Interview: Kate Adams

Today we’re joined by Kate Adams. Kate is a wonderful young songwriter from Northern Ireland who has recently begun writing poetry as well. She posts singing videos to her Facebook page. Kate has such an admirable enthusiasm and is incredibly engaging, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve recently started writing poems and songs. I’ve always loved music so eventually I just started putting piano accompaniments with the words, the first poem I ever tried putting music to wasn’t my one, it was “Solar” by Philip Larkin.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by Philip Larkin, I really admire how honest his work is and how he was always true to his beliefs. I am also very inspired by my friends. They are also creatives who are LGBT+ and they encourage me so much. We always share work with each other and give feedback, they are very important to me and I write a lot about them.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I took English at a higher level at school and really fell in love with the poetry section. I went to a few poetry readings in local bookstores and it really inspired me to start writing. I have been singing from a very early age with my granda, my dad is also very musical and it kind of rubbed off on me. My brother and I took piano lessons for a few years and he really succeeded at it, but I stuck more to singing.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t, I haven’t really thought about a sign off or signature to be honest. I just tend to write my initials.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

To any young aspiring artist reading this interview I would say: Even if you don’t like what you have created, it’s probably good you made it because it furthered your talent and ability. Everything you do is part of a creative journey you are on. Be proud of what you and always keep true to who you are and what you believe. Be respectful of others and their work and be you 😊

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a HetAce as of right now, but I might be BiAce.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I have had a few people who are part of the LGBT+ community tell me that I don’t belong in “their” community. I have dealt with it by saying stuff like “I mean, here is some material you could read that may sway you…” and then linking them to posts and articles on the topic. It’s infuriating to be oppressed by being excluded and demonised by a group of people who aim to fight oppression.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

I had a conversation very recently with somebody who thought that all asexuals were repulsed and opposed to kissing, masturbation and sex, I explained that that isn’t always the case and that it varies from person to person.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I am still figuring out my own orientation, some people don’t figure it for a very long time, orientation and sexuality are very fluid things and labels can change as you grow as a person. Don’t feel that you should fall under one label either! It’s totally okay to just be you and like what you like. As long you are mindful and respectful of others you’ll go far.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’ve recently started posting videos of me singing on my Facebook page, no original songs yet but you never know what the future holds! Most of the people who like it don’t know about my being asexual, I’m still trying to tell a few people aha.

The link to my page is: https://www.facebook.com/KateAdamsMusic

Thank you, Kate, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Elliott Dunstan

Today we’re joined by Elliott Dunstan. Elliott is an awesome grey-ace trans writer who works in a couple different styles. He’s currently working on an online webnovel (found at Ghosts in Quicksilver), which features an ace main character. When he’s not working on his webnovel, Elliott also writes quite a lot of poetry and he has also published two zines. It’s very obvious that he’s incredibly passionate, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Deep in the Bone
Deep in the Bone

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m a writer of poetry, mythic fiction and queer literature, and I’m happiest when I find those three things intermingling with each other. My primary project right now is Ghosts in Quicksilver, a web-novel about a 17-year-old wannabe private investigator who can speak to the dead. The book features characters from all over the queer spectrum, and the main character is an ace butch lesbian.

I’m also the author of two self-published zines, Deep in the Bone and Home Is Where The Ghosts Are, available in both print and digital formats on my Etsy store. They’re collections of poetry and a short story each, the first centered around mythology and the second telling the story of my semi-haunted apartment.

What inspires you?

Anything and everything. Music is a big one – certain songs inspire visuals which in turn become stories. I’m also inspired by the reflection of mythology onto modern day issues and vice versa; the story of Icarus projected onto somebody’s manic phase, the tale of the Golem in a world where AI is becoming a certainty, or the story of the forbidden love of Eros and Psyche recontextualized as a queer love story.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Always, always, always. I can’t remember a time I didn’t want to be a writer; I learned to read when I was two and how to write a few years later, and even from very early on I was scrawling poetry in margins. Not very good poetry, but poetry nonetheless.

As far as my genres and medium of choice, I prefer to have a certain amount of control over my work, and the business practices of Cory Doctorow is probably what inspired me the most directly to do a webnovel. It’s also a testament to old Dickens novels and Stephen King’s slightly more recent The Green Mile; serial novels have always been around in one form or another. My poetry zines are a little bit more directly inspired by ‘zine culture’ in indie writer/musician circles.  

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I’m not really sure! I suppose there is symbolism I return to, but in general I think my ‘trademark’ would be the clash between darkness and humour. I have a very morbid sense of humour, so I manage to find something funny in almost everything I write. A girl seeing the ghost of her dead sister is scary. A girl arguing with her dead sister and hoping nobody else catches on is hilarious. Dionysus going to the Underworld is a myth. Dionysus catching a cab and striking up a casual conversation with the cabbie while terrorizing them into driving to the Styx is bizarrely entertaining.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

A couple things, I suppose. One, that the whole ‘keep writing no matter what’ phrase is true. It really is. But having a few bad days isn’t going to ruin everything. Two, your writing is never going to be perfect. But you have the right to talk it up like it is, to have pride in your own work, and to have the courage to open up to criticism and filter out the good from the bad. There’s a lot of culture around how you’re ‘supposed’ to talk about something you’re proud of, and I hate it. Be proud of what you’ve made, even if you know you’ll do better next time.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Oof. Uh, all over the place? Somewhere between gray-ace and demisexual, or both at once. Or maybe completely asexual – I haven’t been able to divide up how I feel about things accurately enough to really know. But I know I’m definitely somewhere in there. The actual label I think is less important than being in the right general area.

I’m also somewhere on the aromantic spectrum, although that one’s even harder to pin down. I just know I have a very different way and intensity of feeling those emotions, so

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I actually haven’t dealt with any direct ace prejudice in my artistic field, but I do see it a lot on the platforms where I try to market with social media. I generally deal with it by blocking and moving on – sometimes it means I’m cutting myself out of a potential audience but I consider it worth it.

Offline, it’s mostly the pressure to put romance in my books and stories even when it doesn’t fit, or sexual commentary on my characters when it really, really isn’t appropriate. I have no interest in explaining to people whether my asexual character is a ‘top’ or a ‘bottom’. I count that as ignorance because it’s the running assumption that I’m writing a YA book, it must have something to do with sex. Otherwise teenagers won’t pay attention. Whereas what I’ve discovered is that teenagers and young adults are actually thirsting for a book that doesn’t treat these topics as the be-all, end-all of human existence.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

You can’t be asexual and attractive. You can’t be asexual and still have sex. You can’t be asexual and gay. You can’t be ace from trauma. You can only be ace from trauma. If you’re aromantic, you don’t have a heart. You can’t be aro and ace, that’s just boring.

Basically, there’s too many to count. Asexuality is critically, functionally misunderstood in both mainstream straight communities and queer/LGBT+ circles. I think if I had to pick one, though, it’s the idea that asexuality is just ‘straight lite’ or ‘gay lite’. Being on the ace spectrum doesn’t make my attraction to men or women any less potent – it’s just a different way of feeling and expressing that attraction. And the ‘gay lite’ in particular upsets me because, if two guys are walking down the street holding hands, no homophobe is going to stop and ask if they’re having sex.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

That it’s okay to identify as ace and/or aro. Whether it ends up being temporary, whether it’s a reaction to trauma, whether it’s something you’ve known for years, whether it poked up its head yesterday – it’s okay to identify this way. A lot of people are going to try tell you that it’s not, or that it’s a phase (and what’s so wrong with phases?) and honestly? Ignore them. Your identity is yours to negotiate, nobody else’s.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find me at moonlitwaterwriting.tumblr.com or at elliottmoonlit on Twitter. My Etsy is AnachronistPanic and linked on my Tumblr page, and if you want to read Ghosts in Quicksilver, it’s up to read for free at ghosts-in-quicksilver.tumblr.com.

Thank you, Elliott, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Shalyse

Today we’re joined by Shalyse. Shalyse is a phenomenal author who is currently working on a novel that features a main character who is an asexual POC and also polyamorous. That novel will be published under the name Zephyrrine. Aside from writing, Shalyse is also the founder of DFW Asexual Meetup and has a couple other blogs. Aside from fiction, Shalyse also writes poetry and nonfiction. She’s quite a dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

The primary piece I want to discuss is a book I am writing that features an asexual polyamorous character in a queer polycule. The primary character is a cis-woman of color who is asexual and some of the secondary main characters are multiple men of varying sexualities. This book will also feature aspects of the kink community as well to show the various ways asexual and kink relationships can play out. It is also based in a fictional timeline and with the characters begin from a fictitious civilization that integrates into our modern world. This is a fantasy style novel.

My secondary piece is my poly blog, lettalkaboutpoly.wordpress.com, that seeks to explore polyamory and the intersection that individuals bring to the relationship style. Similar to the way the book will, but with real life experiences.

My other blog is my xoxshalyse.wordpress.com, which host some of my poetry and think pieces.

What inspires you?

The need of visibility and education for alternative lifestyles. I know what it’s like to feel so completely broken because I didn’t know that it was OK to go against the societal norms, especially when my norms seem to contradict watch other.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always written stories and poetry, as well as I used to paint and draw. Creativity and art were my main outlets for dealing with being suicidal and having trouble understanding the illogical world around me. I recently however decided to use my love of writing to promote alternative lifestyles to give us the visibility we need.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

There is a running theme of finding and addressing the dark parts of yourself and embracing it to become whole person that loves and respects yourself.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Just do it. Even if you think it will suck, because it will probably turn out better than you thought.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as a sex repulsed asexual. I am also aromantic and polyamorous, though I engage in relationships as bi/pan – romantic.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not professionally.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That we are celibate and abusive to our partners for disliking or refusing to force ourselves to participate in sexual encounters.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

It’s OK to be confused. Asexuality means you don’t experience sexual attraction. There are a hundred plus ways we can present. There is no rush to figure it all out even in a relationship. Just be honest with yourself and your partners.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

You can find me on Twitter at xoxshalyse.

Thank you, Shalyse, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Fran

Today we’re joined by Fran. Fran is a phenomenal musician who plays a variety of instruments and also participates in her school’s marching band. When she’s not playing music, Fran enjoys doodling and is currently writing a novel, which sounds like a fun adventure (a superhero rom-com, how can you not love that). She has also written some poetry and short stories. It’s very clear that Fran is a dedicated and versatile artist, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Ace Flute

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I just graduated high school and plan to attend university as a double major in music education and music performance. My primary instrument is flute, but I also play saxophone and a little bit of piano, ukulele, and clarinet. I really enjoy playing classical music, but a lot of my passion lies in jazz, and I am a member of my high school marching band and a future member of my college marching band. I also doodle a little bit, and I am writing a rom com superhero novel about a meteorite that wishes that she can become human and the stars grant her wish. It is a wlw romance, but mostly it consists of humor and superhero action. I also write poetry and short stories.

What inspires you?

My hero is Michael Giacchino and other movie soundtrack writers like him. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved getting inspiration for my music from soundtracks. Because of this wonderful music guiding my life, I plan on inspiring others to pursue music by teaching, and maybe even continue my talents into the professional field. For my visual art, I mostly get inspiration from my friends. We all draw together as a hobby so we get inspired by each other often. For my writing I am inspired by my favorite authors, J.K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, David Leviathan, and Rick Riordan. I love writing books with positive outlooks and messages about love and peace.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have loved music and art ever since I was a child. I started playing flute in 4th grade and I have been obsessed with band ever since. I loved watching movies and playing games almost solely for the excellent musical track. It was only a matter of time until I decided it would be my career. I’ve drawn and written for just as long. I wrote many short stories when I was young, and drew in that stereotypical 6th grade anime style that all artists cringe at later in life. My writing and drawing styles are a little bit better now, though I look back at my childhood doodles and stories with fondness.

Ace artwork 3

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Not really. My signature is just my name in cursive.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

If you want to be a musician, do it! Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a “phony career” and that you won’t be able to make a living with it. With hard work and a little thinking outside of the box, you can make a good career out of any art form. Follow your dream and don’t let the downers destroy your passion!

Ace artwork 2

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I identify as an Asexual Lesbian. I experience no sexual attraction, but I am romantically attracted to girls exclusively.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I’ve had people tell me that you can’t have a romantic relationship without sex and that I’ll “change my mind”. It used to bother me, but now I just let the words wash over me. I know that I’ll find someone who will understand and love that part about me. I can’t help it that their concept of relationships is so small-minded. I don’t experience that often, though. Most people in my field are very accepting.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That I can’t experience a romantic relationship. Many people lump asexual and aromantic together without realizing that they are both different. You can be both, or just one or the other. There are also people who think I’m just innocent. It’s true that I’m a bit innocent in some areas, I don’t like to cuss, I don’t have a dirty mind, I would rather watch Disney movies than anything with too much sex or violence, but that has nothing to do with my orientation. I know how sex works. I just don’t want to have it.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Don’t feel like you have to rush into a label. And your label can be fluid and change over time. I know that I may change my label in the future. Just like your favorite color changes over time, so can your label. Also, I know it’s hard living in a world where sex can be prioritized over a healthy and understanding relationship. Be who you are. Because “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter won’t mind”. Your identity is a beautiful thing!

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I don’t really have a website or anything. Most of my work is just in my ensembles or in my community.

Ace art 1

Thank you, Fran, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Adalyn Caroline

Today we’re joined by Adalyn Caroline. Adalyn is a phenomenal and unique writer who specializes in hint fiction. She dabbles in fantasy, though also does quite a bit of writing in a genre she calls “fictionalized nonfiction.” When she’s not working on fiction, Adalyn also likes to write poetry. She is an incredibly talented writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Am I Perfect Yet
Am I Perfect Yet

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer. I dabble in children’s stories and poetry. Most of my pieces are short story or hint fictions (less than 25 words).  The majority of my pieces are my own personal genre of “fictionalized nonfiction” but I do dabble in some fantasy. Like most writers, I tend to write in third person, however I am working on another piece that is in first person, and is chronicling the journey of discovering my sexuality and orientation.

What inspires you?

Everything, honestly. But I do tend to pull a lot from real life and from other literary pieces that really touch me. To quote Mark Twain, there is no such thing as an original idea.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

My long term goal is to eventually get into the publishing industry as an editor, but I was always interested in writing. I remember writing these little books when was I was kid that helped me escape the harsh reality that was my life at the time. Although, I didn’t know then that’s what it was. And as I grew older, I focused more on refining my writing skills because of my anxiety.

Untitled5_HintFiction
Untitled 5 (Hint Fiction)

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

There are technically two. The protagonists are always demisexual, even if they don’t straight out identify as it. The other one is that each of my protagonists has an article of clothing, or a trinket or a pillow, etc. that is a turtle.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Don’t feel like your work is subpar. Ever. And if you think your work is too similar to something that’s already out there, remember: There is no such thing as an original idea. We build off everything around us.

We're All Mad Here
We’re All Mad Here

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a biromantic asexual.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I tend to keep my sexuality to myself, aside from a few close friends. That being said, I have not experienced any prejudice. I find that those who are truly artistic, are more open-minded and aren’t as judgmental.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Well, there are several that I have gotten but the most common one is that asexuality doesn’t exist. Quite frankly, it’s the most heartbreaking thing I hear, especially when it comes from someone whom I’ve grown to trust and feel like I might be able to come out to. Alternatively, I also get a lot of comments that those who identify as asexual can be ‘fixed’ with sex-therapy.

Winter_HintFiction
Winter (Hint Fiction)

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I struggled with coming to terms of the biromantism portion of my sexuality for a long time. I had a traumatic experience when I was twelve involving a rape accusation and for the longest time I shied away from that part of who I was. I also didn’t realize I identified as asexual until I started to talk to a friend of mine who is extremely active and vocal with the LGBTQ+ community and she pretty much opened my eyes to asexuality.

My advice is this: don’t let anyone tell you you’re broken. You aren’t. Your sexuality and orientation plays a big part of who you are and it’s better to have a small support group of people you can trust than to try to change who you are.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I am currently working on uploading my work onto a Wattpad account. However, that is taking me a little while to finish up due to some personal complications. I am hoping to have everything up by the end of the August. I am also in the process of potentially developing a WordPress site.

If you would like to receive an email of when my work is up, you can reach me at Adalyn.Caroline23@gmail.com

Wonderland_HintFiction
Wonderland (Hint Fiction)

Thank you, Adalyn, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Chrystal Kyees

Today we’re joined by Chrystal Kyees. Chrystal is a phenomenal visual artist and writer. She’s currently working on a graphic novel that sounds positively fascinating. She has also written a lot of poetry and a fantasy novel. It’s very apparent that Chrystal is incredibly dedicated, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

Selfie
Selfie

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a writer and visual artist. My current graphic novel project is in the research phase but I do plan on posting it on Tumblr when it finally gets underway. I am very excited about this current story! The main character is asexual and agender! It is set in South Wales and is called Twilight Cafe (Caffi Cyfnos). I have one completed fantasy novel and more than a few poems.

What inspires you?

All the things!

In all seriousness however, I do mean that. I am deeply affected by my surroundings. I am constantly taking a moment to absorb and crystallize events in my mind. I want to hold it all. I am also influenced by fairy-tales, myths, science fiction, and love in its many complex and strange manifestations.

9.23.11
9.23.11

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Oh, I have almost always combined words and illustration. I recall having a notebook when I was perhaps five or six, that had framing on top of ruled lines so that it allowed for a story book type format. I still think about that notebook from time to time.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

Purple prose? Ha!

I think in most of my works you’ll find a mythic quality and no small amount of magic. That’s not to boast that my work will transform a person, but that I consciously put elements of magic realism and magical thinking into what I do.

Simpsons Commision
Simpsons Commission

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Do what you love and don’t let what people think make you lose yourself in either direction. Keep creating and never stop. The world needs more creation.

Blaspheme 6.29.11
Blaspheme 6.29.11

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am demisexual and outside of my partner I am sex repulsed.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I have not but I am extremely solitary. I am sure with my newest project I will get backlash from a few people and I have not yet decided how I am going to handle it. For now I am observing how other artists take it and I am making mental notes.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Allosexuals have a really difficult time conceptualizing that their experience is not universal. Also that asexuality is not equivalent to lack of desire, a lack of a need for other physical comforts, nor is it a rejection of another person’s affection.

Persephone 6.27.11
Persephone 6.27.11

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

You’re not broken or wrong or missing something inside yourself. You are whole and perfectly designed. Don’t waste time on people who will not see who you are and refuse to change their opinions. If you would like a partner, you will find one and if you do not, that is just as valid. Having a relationship (or sex within or without that structure) is not some sort of achievement you have to reach. You’re just fine.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

For now I am solely on Tumblr and with only one main blog, iamacollectionofmiscellanyandtea.tumblr.com. This is my personal blog so while it contains my art, it will also contain other fragments of my interests. It is also where I will make any announcements of any projects I have waiting in the wings.

Janeway
Janeway

Thank you, Chrystal, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Dominique Cyprès

Today we’re joined by Dominique Cyprès. Dominique is a phenomenal writer who has dabbled with various forms including fiction and nonfiction. Their first love is poetry and they have written plenty of different kinds of poetry. They have a story in Unburied Fables, an anthology from Creative Aces. It’s obvious they’re a passionate and dedicated writer, as you’ll soon read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

dogs-front-cover

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’ve dabbled in a lot of different sorts of writing – from fiction to creative non-fiction, poetry in both verse and prose. As someone with an overlapping interest in tech, I’ve also experimented a little with interactive fiction. I’m really interested in what new ground can still be broken with Infocom-style text adventures.

I’ve also forayed a little into video editing and stereographic photography. I’m pretty much the prototypical “jack of all trades” in that I keep trying new media and I don’t often stick with one and try to master it. In the end, though, everything seems to come back to poetry. I often find that when I’m working on fiction, or text adventures, or visual media, I’m compelled to find a way to inject poetry into that medium.

What inspires you?

My primary motivation in making art is a sort of practical mysticism; my goal is to give voice to the enormous wonder and bewilderment I feel trying to make sense of both the natural world and interpersonal interaction. As an autistic person, I often find myself in the sort of situation that Temple Grandin refers to as being “an anthropologist on Mars.” The world often seems an altogether foreign place to me, and my art (when I have the time to make it) acts essentially as fields notes on this inscrutable country.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

The artistic role models who have most informed the direction I take in poetry are probably Emily Dickinson, Miyazawa Kenji (whose work I have read only in English translation), and Charles Simic. Dickinson and Miyazawa together really pulled me toward poetry as a medium in the first place, and their biographies and work share certain themes in common. Both were disabled and regarded as odd by their communities. Both expressed in their work an immense love of humanity and of nature, but wrote from a perspective of looking upon these subjects from the outside, and both wrote largely for themselves and did not manage to sell much of their work to professional publications during their lifetimes.

Simic’s influence on me comes through his seminal Pulitzer-prize winning volume The World Doesn’t End, and largely has to do with his pioneering work on the form of prose poetry, and his use of ambiguous and discordant sensory images to cultivate what poets refer to as “negative capability,” the ability to draw art out of questions that have no answers, out of confusion and non-rational thought.

I tend to think of art as something I am inclined to do, and not as a feature of who I am, perhaps because I’ve long had it drilled into my head that writing poetry alone is not a viable professional path for someone who needs to support themself and their family financially. I’ve heard this even from former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand, who derives much of his personal income from his work as a college professor.

As a young person I wanted to devote my life to art in some way professionally. As I neared the end of high school I told my parents I wanted to study acting full-time in college and choose that as my field. They asked where I would find the money to feed myself and I didn’t really have an answer, so I studied psychology instead, and wound up dropping out of college after three years when I reached a point where my undiagnosed learning disabilities had started to make it impossible to complete my coursework.

At that point, in 2012, my self-esteem just bottomed out entirely, and one thing to I did in an effort to pull it back up was to take a bunch of poetry I had been working on while I was at school (where I was pursuing a creative writing minor) and build on that work, flesh out its themes a little bit, and compile it into a book I could have printed through a major self-publishing-platform. That was Dogs from your childhood & other unrealities. I had neither the money nor the energy to engage in any serious promotion for it at the time, but being able to share my work with some appreciative friends in that manner was the kind of encouragement I needed.

Now I’m working on a new volume of poems. It’s necessarily very different from my last book, because I’ve changed a lot since 2012. It’s in verse, whereas my last book was entirely in prose. It’s much more concerned with overtly political questions, with the relationships between the wage worker and their work, with the struggles of a young and growing family. I hardly find time to work on it, as a full-time retail worker, part-time student, and parent, but I’m excited to share the personal growth I’ve experienced in this form.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I often feel that I’m walking a metaphorical tightrope in my work, attempting to balance impulses toward self-deprecation, disillusionment, and cynicism on one hand and an irrepressible sense of naïve wonder on the other. That’s a feature of my everyday life, too, but I expect it comes out a lot in what I make.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

My advice would be to try to hold on to your art, to what you do that moves you on a deep level, even when it doesn’t pay the bills. And if you have to step aside from making art because you’re depressed or just too busy struggling to survive for a while, you need not be ashamed. Go back to your art when you’re ready and let it accept you with open arms.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I’m asexual, and I’ve identified myself as such since age 20 when I first heard about other asexual people. I’m quoiromantic. I’m married now; I have two spouses and a child, and the fact that I’m asexual doesn’t come up very often in my day-to-day life. But if I had never identified myself as asexual in the first place, I probably wouldn’t be married now, because it was identifying as asexual that allowed me first to accept myself for who I am, and then to find people who understood and accepted me enough to start a family with me.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

There’s a strong push for writers of creative non-fiction and poetry today to candidly confess intimate details of their personal lives, and that very often includes one’s sex life and sexuality. That can be an uncomfortable demand for an asexual writer and I encourage other writers to share only what they can share confidently. As it happens, though, I have made very few connections “in my field”, so I don’t yet have any direct experience with ignorance around ace issues directed at me as a writer.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

As much as you can insist to people that asexuality is your sexual orientation, some people will be determined to see it as a medical symptom that you should somehow be treating, or as an ideological position. There’s only so much myth-dispelling educational material you can provide to someone before it becomes a waste of time.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

The decision to reclassify Pluto as a dwarf planet, and not as a proper planet, was an arbitrary taxonomic exercise, motivated by mounting discoveries of Pluto-sized objects in our solar system. Essentially, if we continued to count Pluto as a planet, there would be so many newly-found planets of similar size that we could never hope to make elementary school children memorize all their names. But Pluto is still out there in the Kuiper belt, and it’s still an important target for scientific research.

Similarly, your experiences as an asexual person are real and an important part of your life even when other people find it inconvenient to acknowledge them.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

Dogs from your childhood & other unrealities is still available in print and as a free e-book via my blog. My next book, tentatively titled dead monochrome doggerel, is still in the works and I’ll be sure to announce it on my blog when it’s ready.

Thank you, Dominique, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.