My friend Stephen Danos (author of Playhouse State, H_NGM_N Books, and alumnus of Columbia College Chicago’s Creative Writing – Poetry MFA program!) tapped my shoulder in this epic game of tag for the project “The Next Big Thing,” a self-interview for writers with recent or forthcoming books (or, I guess, projects in process, as well). After I answer the questions, I have the pleasure of tagging more writers to do the same! I’m writing about my collaborative collection written with Chas Hoppe, The Diegesis.
What is the working title of the book?
Where did the idea for the book come from?
I had a bunch of leftover poems from working on When the Wolves Quit and This is the Way to Rule. They were poems that I knew, as I was writing them, they wouldn’t fit with Wolves but might fit with Rule. So, there were these poems that were kind about film, the idea of how a film is made, and the filmmakers, actors, and archetypes. I had between 10-20 pages, and they were definitely speaking to each other. They were, in ways, cinematic and, in other ways, theoretical. Think of them as deleted scenes from other projects.
I was re-reading Chas’s thesis and thought, Curse-word, I should write a book with him. Ten minutes later, I was emailing him about it. After he agreed, we set up ground rules for five sections and said, “Let’s do this, and what we get is what we get.” I didn’t tell him what I thought it would be about, but I knew it had something to do with a city and all these deleted scene. But, by the time we started actually working on it, it was clear that cinema and theory and pop-culture and nostalgia would all be interwoven. We didn’t know how it would come together, oo we just wrote.
What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry. Hybrid. (This question makes me nervous.)
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
It’s an ensemble piece: Big Cast
Maybe the cast of Henry Fool…
…but more likely all those “mumblecore” folks: Greta Gerwig, the Duplass brothers, Swanberg, Bujalski, Kent Osborne, Justin Rice, Chris Lankenau, Erin Fisher, plus Lines and Blood folks: Sage Price, Sean Frazier, Sarah C. Davis, Patrick Dizney, and Jon Bowden.
Aaron Katz & Joe Swanberg would co-direct.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An interrogation of cinema, film theory, pop-culture, the ’90s, city-life, writing/poetry, memories, and the ways they converge.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
We met like four times in person to write. I’d write a line, Chas would write a line, and so on. I’d take it, type it up, and send it to him. “The Opening Crawl” and “Credits” were pretty much as we wrote them, with the exception of copy-edits. The others had different rules and processes. I’d say it took us a year. I first emailed him on December 30th, 2010, and I just found an old email from early December 2011 saying that I would have the ordered manuscript for revision soon. After that, we tweaked and tweaked little stuff. The majority of the work we did in that first year.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Cinema and Filmmaking
Film Studies (I took a lot of film studies classes in college/grad school and went to a few conferences to present papers on film.)
My youth in the ’90s
Jenny Boully’s poems and “essays”
The need to write something not tied to a narrative
The records I own and listen to
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Chas and I set rules that we started breaking. Sometimes we wrote each others’ footnotes. Sometimes we wrote our own. Sometimes we mixed it up. Only certain things were allowed to be capitalized. During some sections we were not allowed to use “i”. The middle sections are literally the poems leftover from the editing room of my other books. (I think it’s the same for Chas.). But, those deleted scenes turned into its own narrative, its own film, its own thing. Sometimes we did not understand each others’ references. The footnotes are not meant to be read as the poem is happening—a collision of voices.
There are many references throughout of many different films, songs, bands, etc, etc. Kudos if you can find them all.
Also, my litter brother, Jordan designed the cover.
My twin brother, Caleb made the book trailer.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
To Whom It May Concern,
I would love an agent to represent me.
My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:
My friend Stephen Danos (author of Playhouse State, H_NGM_N Books, and alumnus of Columbia College Chicago’s Creative Writing – Poetry MFA program!) tapped my shoulder in this epic game of tag for …