Q&A: Sasha Fletcher
Q: What style of music do you think most closely resembles your poetry? A: I don’t know but I always listen to the Walkmen so I guess there is that. There is this anthology series I like called ECCENTRIC SOUL, and everything is a little distorted, a little blown-out, and really full of feeling. I don’t know that it resembles my work but I’d like to think it does a little. It is a nice thought to have at any rate. I feel like it’s hard for me to see things like that about my work. I will say that it is really loud, and really tender, and really insistent. I will say that.
Q: Did you choose your writing style or did it choose you? What does your style allow you to do with your poetry that other styles would not?
A. Sort of a mix? In 2007 I realized I wanted to get more serious so I looked at what I was doing and what all the writers I’d been reading were doing and I tried to cut what they were doing out of my writing and then I tried to build it up from there, and then other things happen. I think that how I write lets me do a lot. But I also know that this is actually really at this point the only way that I can write.
In terms of what it allows me to do, I feel like the voice I use comes off as readable. I think that because it’s a very insistent voice that is relatively easy to read and at least a little engaging, that I can get a reader to follow me along to some weird places. I like that the voice I write in lets me surprise myself. I think if you can’t surprise yourself, you can’t surprise the reader, and that if the work doesn’t try to change itself, that if there isn’t some small sort of revolution happening, then just kind of fuck it.
A poem should change you in one way or another. Art should change you. It should open something up inside of you. And I think it’s easier to ask a lot of a reader when you either give them something in return or don’t let them realize you’re asking something of them in the first place. And I think the way I tend to write let’s me do that.
Q: How do you choose what a poem will look like on the page?
A: In terms of visuals, I don’t want my poem to look weird. I want it to look totally normal on the page. I want people to not assume something weird is going to happen. I want it to appear normal and accessible, so that when weird things start happening people have less of a reason to question things.
Q: How do you choose your punctuation or lack thereof? Does it have more to do with grammar, visual cues, or auditory/musical cues?
A: Everything used to be visual for me. And now I try to make it have to do with the sound and the sense of it.
Q: Do you think that punctuation can be equated with musical notation symbols such as note value, rests, and dynamic markings? How do you think of white space? Between words and stanzas? As it relates to the size and shape of the paper your work is printed on?
A: Yes. I mean, I like white space. Visually. In general. I like it aesthetically. For my own work I try to avoid that, because I don’t know how to make the visual aspect of it be as essential as whatever it is saying. I came out of a practice where form and function had to necessitate each other. I like a good margin though. I like a nice 2 inch margin all around. I like in books, when a poem goes for more than two pages, I like when the top lines line up with the first line rather than the title. I like the idea of things lining up.
Q: Do you think your poetry gives visual auditory cues to the reader? Do you think the reader hears the way you read your poetry by sight alone? If not, what do you think impedes this transfer of information?
A: I mean, I try. I never used line breaks for the longest time because I didn’t understand them. They were just arbitrary visual things. I thought that was how a poem looks. I try to use lines as breaths at this point. I don’t know if that impedes the transfer of information, but it’s how I think of it.
Q: How do you notate your poetry to make up for the lack of your voice being there? Do you try?
A: No, not really. I think all we can do is try to make the work as close to what we want it to be, and then understand that when it’s out in the world it’s out in the world.
Q: Do you consider yourself a performer of your poetry, or a reader? How come?
A: A performer. I do think a reading is mostly a performance. You’re on a sort of stage and there’s an audience. Being read to is a sort of an intimate thing I think. And I don’t think that always translates well to a crowd. Especially since a lot of readings happen in bars and coffee shops where there are already people there.
Q: How would you describe your performance/reading style? Do you think that popular reading styles have shaped the way you read, or have you actively worked against the pull of mainstream performance style?
A: I think I would describe my performance style as intensely tender at a high volume. Going to readings shaped how I read in that I thought a lot of readers were really really boring and I do not want to be a boring performer. It seems rude to go up on a stage and not try to be as engaging as possible.
Q: Do you think you’re the best performer/reader of your own work? A: Yes.
you are a beauty and i am alright
I told you to pretend that I was attractive and it worked. I took your hand in mine and we walked to the punch bowl and punched someone in the mouth. We went for the easy joke with pride. We went for the door with great purpose. After that we started a life. We stacked wood in piles like they were birds. We call this a cabin because that is what it is. There is a radio in the corner and it is playing static all night long because that’s the only station we like and there are whole nights where I could pull my limbs off and knock all of your teeth out because I just love you so much. You tell me to try it. You dare me. Upstairs the night sky is a stampede of horses just begging to be broken. I tell you to hike up your dress and show me your legs your knees your thighs and everything in between and when you do the whole world collapses around us and we finally learn the meaning of love it was right there in front of us the whole time. It was so obvious that I am not even going to talk about it.
Sasha Fletcher is author of the novella When All Our Days Are Numbered Marching Bands Will Fill the Streets & We Will Not Hear Them Because We Will Be Upstairs in the Clouds (mud luscious press, 2010), and several chapbooks of poetry including the forthcoming dear gloria, dear madeline, dear siobhan, dear ethel, dear eloise, dear wendy, dear becky, dear lisa, dear liza, dear michelle, dear tamika, dear tanya, tonight (Big Lucks Books, 2014). With Leigh Stein, he runs The Book Report reading series.