If I told you that there is a woman who trains tigers for the circus, listens to classical Indian music, and is capable of picking up 35 marbles with her toes faster than anyone else you know, would you think she sounded a little too good to be true? I would. Well guess what? She exists! and ‘She’ is Amy McDaniel. She is also one of the founders of Atlanta’s Solar Anus Reading series, is a contributor over at HTML Giant and the author of the chapbook Selected Adult Lessons from Agnes Fox Press. She will be gracing our ears at this Sunday’s Vouched Atlanta launch reading, which you will all be attending, amiright?
I’ve heard you’re moving to Bangladesh. Do you think you’ll come back in two years with a pet tiger? Have you started listening to a lot of tunes by Satyajit Ray and Ravi Shankar?
The scientific name for the Bengal tiger is tigris tigris tigris, so I plan to acquire triplet tigers and name them Tigris, Tigris, and Tigris. I have been listening to the classical Indian channel on Pandora, but more than that I’ve been listening to ghazals sung by Farida Khanum, whose voice expresses all the tease mixed with longing that the ghazal form demands. Because I’m going to ask my students to write a traditional ghazal, which is a really difficult form, I tried it for myself, and you’ll hear the results at the Vouched reading. I’m not going to sing it, though.
Would you ever consider joining the circus with Tigris, Tigris, and Tigris? How would that affect your writing? Also, about the singing of the ghazals- why so shy?
Well, I just started physical therapy for a nastily sprained ankle, and my PT told me that I have more range of motion in my left foot than anyone he’s ever seen, AND, that I can pick up 35 marbles with my toes faster than any other patient. So, yes, we would absolutely join the circus. I don’t feel that it would affect my writing because in my heart I’ve always been a circus performer with three pet tigers.
As far as singing, I wouldn’t say I’m shy so much as… considerate of the feelings of others.
35 marbles? That’s a whole new kind of nimble. Really, I’m impressed. Were you surprised when you found out you were so adept at grabbing things with your toes, or was this a talent you were aware you had?
I was unsurprised. My toe hero is David Byrne, who writes, “What exactly IS happening in between my toes, anyway? It’s all slightly loopy innuendo, ecstatic, sexy and borderline disgusting.”
I have pied grec — Greek foot — which means my second toe is longer than my great toe, and which also means that, dynastically speaking, I am Ptolemaic (like Cleopatra) rather than Middle Kingdom. Lady Liberty also has pied grec.
So does Uma Thurman! Are there any other physical perks of being a pied grec aside from marble-picking-upping?
A lady never tells. What I will say is that the term shrimp job was introduced into the language by John Waters in his first feature film, Mondo Trasho, about a woman who is accosted by a foot fetishist, who sucks her toes in a public park — forcibly. Later, a mad doctor amputates her feet. Dangers of this sort loom over us pieds grecs from birth, and it is incumbent upon us to be hyper-vigilant at all times!
That sounds absolutely terrifying. You must be paranoid 100% of the time and rarely wear sandals. Do you like scary movies? Really scary movies that make you remember why you were afraid of the dark once?
The last scary movie I remember seeing was Love, Actually. I liked it okay. It really doesn’t take much to frighten me, especially because the things in scary movies can really happen. For instance, yesterday, a crazy-eyed college student with the eyebrows of Burt Reynolds approached me in a parking lot and said that she’d noticed my injured ankle (see above), and wanted me to know that Satan attacks us through our bodies. So maybe I need to re-watch The Exorcist and take it a little more seriously this time.
That does sound serious. When I first watched The Exorcist I developed a crush on the priest, which is really weird on many levels, but especially now after doing a picture search of him on Google.
Do you think Satan would be more prone to attack you through your injured ankle or your super-powered toes?
I’m so distracted by your crush confession that I can barely focus on this question. I’m worried that you are using it as a diversion tactic, a trap, so that I will admit that I have inside knowledge on how Satan operates. I DON’T KNOW! But Satan, if you’re out there, please don’t mess with my ears. That really freaks me out.
It may or may not have been a diversion. What would you say to encourage people (not Satan) to come to our reading this Sunday, July 24th?
Every session, before giving me the ultrasound-massage thing with all the goo, my physical therapist asks me what part of my ankle hurts the most, and I can’t just point, I have to say, “The anterior tibiofibular ligament.” Poetry is like a gooey ultrasound massage in that way. People should come to the reading if they are tired of just pointing, and want instead, finally, to know the real name of something real.