It’s 12pm and I’m in Chicago. Austin is in Arizona where it is 11am. Our interview is about to start so I’m rushing to make coffee and get to my Mac on time even though we’ve both demonstrated that scheduling doesn’t really matter to either of us. I get to the computer two minutes early and can’t decide whether I should just message Austin that ‘I’m ready’ or just wait the two minutes. During this time I drink my coffee, put “All Too Well (ten minute version)” on repeat, and read LOTUS & THE APOCALYPSE a bit more so I’m prepped for the interview. The short poetry collection captures so much of my attention that I totally miss Austin messaging me that they’re ready to begin. I stop reading and we begin…
( I recommend playing Taylor Swift on repeat while reading this)
Interesting. When I think “lotus” purity somehow always comes to mind. So it’s fun to actually think of it as the opposite of that. What got you into writing this collection? I sensed a great deal of nostalgia.
I like the idea of it meaning rebirth. When I see a Lotus flower it always does give off that feeling.
One of my favorite artists is Mac Miller. In his last 2 albums, Mac talked about the world as a series of cycles, of ups and downs and highs and lows. Sometimes we’re swimming through the waters of life. Other times we’re treading water, just trying to keep our head above water. And sometimes we’re drowning. For a while I felt like I was drowning, but writing this book helped me start to swim again.
I think people definitely will relate to this collection. With each poem, there is a feeling of catharsis. I really like that you mentioned Mac Miller. I was just listening to “Swimming” earlier today. That and Taylor Swift (basic I know)…did you actively consider his words while writing this?
Swimming is my favorite album of all time. I see swimming as a poetry collection, really. Each song leads into the next and the whole album feels so cohesive. You can listen to it front to back and feel like you’ve entered a while different world, and made it out alive.
Mac’s music, among others, have definitely helped me with my mental health. I definitely listened to swimming a lot while writing this book. It helps to know someone else out there has fought back against their fears and had the strength to challenge them. If someone else can do it, so can you.
When did you begin work on Lotus? I’m going to call it that for short lol
2 years!! That’s insane. Everything has felt kinda fucked for a while. When it clicked in my head that I was writing this story about a character named Lotus, who is faced with his world ending, I went at it feverishly. Writing all night, editing editing editing. Tweaking each poem 1 word at a time. And that was fun as hell. It felt like I was able to create this universe that I could step in to that felt safe to me, because there were no secrets and all my vulnerabilities were right there to look at and face.
How do you decide when a project like this is complete?
For this book, I had a vision in my head of what it would turn out to be. Lotus felt done when I could read it all the way through, and I felt like I had successfully translated that vision from my head to the page. And I think that in a way, it also felt done when I started to feel better.
It takes a lot of trust in yourself to feel that way. To be prepared to let it go and hand it to other people. I know for me I always feel most vulnerable towards the end but you seem to have a lot of confidence in this which I love. You’ve already done a wide variety of projects in your life by now. I even interviewed you a bit ago about Street Sorrows which was a pretty progressive body of work. How do you think your style and voice have changed as you’ve grown?
Thank you so much. Street Sorrows was one of my favorite projects to work on for sure. I think that over the years, I’ve just learned to not hold back in my writing. Honesty is the key to connection, which is the key to togetherness. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Trying to take care of each other in whatever ways we can. Whether that’s out in the world, or in the pages of a book.
Tea Hacic-Vlahovic wrote this awesome book called LIFE OF THE PARTY. It came out in 2020 actually, but it’s great and she’s great.
I love Amanda Gorman too! Nice Choices. It’s been pretty fun interviewing you, like always. Is there anything you’d like to add about Lotus before we officially wrap up?