Awful Interview: Amy Herschleb

25 Oct

Would you like to fall in love with Amy Herschleb a bit? She wrote in her poem Bathtime: “Things which burn and do not float include whisky and my heart.” It’s her statements like this that made me know she had to read at the next Vouched Presents. That, and the fact that she shares things. She shares her Canadian Club Whisky. She offered to share her hand-me-downs once (we were both a little drunk and warm-faced) and I was twitterpated. Most importantly, she shares her words. You should come hear them. She also shared her time with me, so we could conduct this awful interview:

Vouched: As a red-head, do you feel especially empowered by Autumn?

Amy: I saw a maple tree at the 57th Fighter Group the other day, green underneath and red from above & at the edges. I wanted to point at it and yell, “that’s me!” There was a good breeze coming off the airfield. I didn’t yell. I didn’t think the person I was with would’ve understood. And I was full of mimosas.

Vouched:  Were you drinking and flying?

Amy: No, that’s overrated. Unless we’re talking balanced on someone’s feet pretending to be the entire airplane with your arms out and getting your ribs bruised. But it’s hard to get a good flight like that, these days.

Vouched:  Those are hard to find these days, I used to fly around like that all the time! What  are some other things that are hard to find?

Amy: The exact right words when they really matter, the buttons that fell off my favorite jacket, the super-sneakiest back way to anywhere, and tigers.

Vouched:  Where is your favorite place to write? Also, what are your thoughts on hip-hop?

Amy:  I think porches might be the ideal places to write. The Platonic Porch. And Joe’s, which used to be my favorite top-secret writing destination until I started meeting people. Atlanta is the largest small town. You can’t hide. And as for hip-hop, I’d say we’re equally relevant to each other. I like to be fair.

Vouched:  I read somewhere that you intend to become ‘obnoxiously famous’. Is that still true? If so, what’s your five-year plan?

Amy: Hahaha… What about ‘notorious’? I think that would be a lot more fun. And I may be allergic to plans. Or just supremely incapable of making them

Vouched: ‘Notorious’ is much more suiting of you. Like the B.I.G.! In a recent interview you did with [the lovely] Melysa Martinez over at Kill Your Darlings you mentioned that you said that your poems can also function as a kind of blueprint. So, would you be comfortable in saying that writing is your plan?

Amy: I kind of intended a reverse blueprint, but not a map, either. More like a detailed diagram of what exists. An x-ray–can you x-ray buildings? With speculative areas. I really don’t anticipate myself. My approach to writing these days is a series of impromptu scribblings. And the only way to make a complete picture of it is through the accretion of these tiny fragments that just float around my life. Like when you get a bunch of duckweed together and all of a sudden it’s a green blanket on the water, keeping it warm, instead of confetti.

Vouched: That sounds incredibly magical. You’re somewhat new to Atlanta, yes? Has your transplant here influenced your writing at all? What are some things you’ve discovered about the Southeast that you love? Some things you’ve discovered that you don’t love?

Amy: Coming back to the South terrified me a little. There were things I took for granted about San Francisco and things I had romanticized about the South–chivalry, rocking chairs, seasons. When I first came back I wrote a long series of poems that were about submerging myself in this romance & rurality, of being the southern spinster, pine mulch, ‘possums killed by bobcats. And in Atlanta it was this layer of decay trapped between nostalgia and new growth, an urgency attached to rebuilding my life & work. Strata, or as AS Byatt puts it so beautifully, laminations. All of Atlanta constantly demolished & rebuilt and layers of paint & ruin & condos and that being at the same time the lens through which I work and live. Waves throwing themselves on the rocks are how I feel about Atlanta & writing.

Vouched: If Atlanta is waves throwing themselves at rocks, what is San Francisco to you?

Amy: A kingdom by the sea. My origin myth. A lover I took for granted and may now never return to… I like the melodrama of that one. San Francisco has moved on, but I’m always going to be wondering what would’ve been different had I been worthy of her.

Vouched: In a bar brawl, which Disney Princess would come out on top:  Cinderella, Jasmine, Pocahontas, or Sleeping Beauty? Why?

Amy: That’s a tough one… Pocahontas was kinda into non-violent protest and jumping off of things, Sleeping Beauty would probably be passed out under a table somewhere, and Cinderella would be preoccupied with curfew… I guess Jasmine. She at least seemed to have a sense of adventure. And has her hair tied up so it can’t just get ripped out, you know?

Vouched:  I bet Jasmine could really throw a punch. Is there anything you would like to say to entice Atlantans to come to our reading on the ninth?

Amy: Danger. Excitement. Tigers. Rain on the roof. Trompe l’oeil. Magicians. Chess. Cedar trees. And most importantly, nothing else is going to cure the ache.

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