INTERVIEW TOPICS: 'a strong feeling that I was living my own life, which I had chosen for myself' // being a writer in New York // refried beans and basement parties // writing from necessity // Frank O’Hara
I’m really interested in how people think about their home – which for this purpose I’ll define as the place where you most feel that you ‘belong’ or the place that you feel most ‘belongs’ to you. It seems like you’ve travelled and moved around a lot, what are some of the different cities you’ve lived in? Out of those places, does one feel more like home to you than another, or does it change a lot? Or do you reject that idea altogether? What’s the ideal type of place that you’d like to live in?
The cities I have lived in are York, Liverpool, Montreal, Toronto and briefly Baltimore.
Currently I am living somewhere very rural.
In a couple of months, I will move again.
I don’t know if I have ever felt a sense of belonging anywhere, geographically.
I do remember a particular morning in bed, in Brooklyn, when I felt like I was in the right place.
But I think that we could probably have been anywhere.
I can remember being in the ocean at various points in my life, and feeling like I wanted to stay there.
I can remember a specific Saturday in Toronto, when I knew that I didn’t have plans to see anybody until the evening, and I went to this second-hand bookstore in Parkdale which is owned by this cute, old couple, and I bought a book that I had ordered online, literally the night before, because I didn’t want to wait for delivery. And then I went to buy groceries at the shitty Price Chopper close to my apartment (I would almost always just eat rice and about 4 vegetables and drink cheap wine from the lcbo), and it was winter and completely unremarkable from any other Saturday, except that I had a strong feeling that I was living my own life, which I had chosen for myself.
When I think about home, it’s more like little moments with particular people, rather than, for example, the place where I grew up or the places I went to school. And I take comfort in the fact that I can carry around the same book or the same songs on my ipod and read or listen to them anywhere in the world, and they’ll always be exactly the same, wherever I am.
I think i was writing poems before i had read any voluntarily/outside of school. i remember being in primary school and mum proud that a teacher was excited about an owl poem i wrote. i was confused because it was a poem with 5 lines and v little feeling.
i read a lot of fantasy novels so when i did writing in class i wanted to create something escapist like that. i’d write too many pages and miss the due date while other kids could sort their shit out in a few paragraphs (just like this impending 5 page response to yr question haha). anyway, yeah, the poems i read were the ones you find in the middle of books like Lord Of The Rings or Enid Blyton. i rewrote a Lord of the Rings poem- the ‘all that is gold does not glitter’ one - and thinking about it i still feel like the embarrassed dorky kid that wrote it but heavier.
so all through high school and ever since
there have been bits of paper with messy writing scrawled over them & scattered around my room
it looks mental& scary like something u would expect from a serial killer and i dont let ppl in my room haha.
my writing comes from a selfish place. i do it to empty myself out and find some clarity
so it can be hard to decide whether it is worthwhile for others to read.
ultimately poetry/writing can make a connection that is difficult to achieve in everyday interactions and i appreciate the ability to feel other ppl thru their writing. so i try to get brave and share sometimes
Gene Morgan owns Settlement Goods & Design in Houston Texas. He started the online literary magazine Bear Parade, which published a lot of early work by Tao Lin, Noah Cicero, Zachary German and Ellen Kennedy, among others. He started HTML Giant with Blake Butler: ‘the internet literature magazine blog of the future.’
How and when did Bear Parade get started? Who was involved in editorial decisions, like choosing which works to publish?
The site started in 2005, I think. I’m going to work off of memory here, but I feel like I started as the result of a “dare” from Tao Lin.
I had published Tao in a zine I put together, and was/am really excited about all of his work. I feel like there were a lot of interesting things going on with online literature at the time, and I said something about wanting to do a website geared towards the kind of writing I was interested in, and he encouraged me to do it.
From there, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I just asked Tao to send me something. What he sent was ”this emotion was a little ebook”. I read it, loved it, and wanted to publish the entire thing. He told me to pay him $50, and I did.
Choosing the work from then on was basically just “who’s out there that we’d like to see on the site.” Tao’s much better read and known than me, so I relied on him a great deal to solicit writers, while I provided the $50 and work of building and designing the site.