Awful Interview: Lauren Traetto

26 Aug

Vouched Books got a new table recently, this one out there on that West Coast, San Francisco-style, thanks to Lauren Traetto, former Vouched ATL Lovely Assistant and overall rad gal. I thought it’d be nice to chitty-chat with her to give the Vouched online audience a chance to meet her and the table. Here we go:

1. So, the third Vouched table went BOOM a few weeks ago with you, Ms. Lauren Traetto, going West Coast. You’ve launched Vouched San Francisco and it seems to really be hoppin’ along. So so, let’s start with the obvious question: what’s the best drink you’ve had since you’ve been out in SF?

Usually I just carry a bottle of gin in my pocketbook for backyard readings and lit meetings. But that doesn’t sound very classy. The best real drink I have had since I’ve been here was at a trendy new lit-themed bar (I know) called Novela. The drink was named “Atticus Finch” (I KNOW), and was built out of bourbon, Earl Grey honey, and balsamic bitters. Drinking it felt like taking part in a crusade for justice–but that may just have been the liquor talking (I have the alcohol tolerance of a baby) (I think the preferred nomenclature is “one-drink-wonder”).

Vouched SF2. Okay okay. Srsly, Vouched chatter time: tell us about the launch, the table, the Vouched SF goodness. Where have you been setting up? Where will you be soon? What’re the plans for the future–reading series, places to pop up, etc.?

Our launch was the first week of July, and boy oh boy was it fun. First we set up at this event in Oakland called Art Murmur aka First Fridays, which is like a madhouse old-timey bazaar with funnel cake and naked people in body paint and possibly, later: danger. (Vouched SF is not afraid of anything.) Then we packed up shop and sped off into the city to set up at a private lit party. Saturday we set up on a painted piano at Duende for Quiet Lightning’s segment of Beast Crawl, which  is like if the apocalypse were a fun park where writers take over the city of Oakland. Then Sunday we set up at Portuguese Artists Colony and Tuesday at The Rumpus + Quiet Lightning event–two of the loveliest/liveliest readings I’ve seen in a long time.

You can expect to see us in the future at all Quiet Lightning events, Portuguese Artists Colony’s reading series, 826 Valencia events, Write Club, and many more still in the works. Our own reading series probably will not kick off until the fall or winter, though plans are brewing for a September reading with one of our partners, and there are rumors of some future thing happening on an aircraft carrier in the bay. We will neither confirm nor deny any rumors at this time.

3. Give us folks who aren’t gonna be there the scoop: what’re the books you’ll be having on this SF table?

Oh man. So many books I am excited about. If I were a body builder and/or had a packmule, I would carry everything I love. But since I actually have to get these books on BART most of the time, some self-control is in order. Here’s an incomplete (and constantly changing/growing!) list of books we currently carry or plan to carry in the future:


Snowflake/Different Streets by Eileen Myles (Wave Books)

Animals by Janey Smith (Plain Wrap Press)

I want to Die by Walter Mackey (Plain Wrap Press)

Dark Matter by Aase Berg (Black Ocean)

Pink Thunder by Michael Zapruder (Black Ocean)

Fjords Vol. 1 by Zachary Schomberg (Black Ocean)

48 Pornos by Tyler Gobble (Safety Third) HEY THAT’S YOU!

Poeta en San Francisco by Barbara Jane Reyes (Tinfish Press)

Hider Roser by Ben Mirov (Octopus Books)

I Was Not Even Born by Wendy Xu and Nick Sturm (Coconut Books)

Science by Emily Toder (Coconut Books)

Hold It Down by Gina Myers (Coconut Books)

Homage to Homage to Homage to Creeley by Joshua Ware (Furniture Press Books)


An Island of 50 by Ben Brooks (MudLuscious)

Falcons on the Floor by Justin Sirois (Publishing Genius)

Fun Camp by Gabe Durham (Publishing Genius)

Executive Privilege by Dale Vigor and Teri Dee Strung (Baby Robot Press)

Stretchyhead by Ian Tuttle (PAC Books)

BadBadBad by Jesus Angel Garcia (New Pulp Press)

May We Shed These Human Bodies by Amber Sparks (Curbside Splendor)

They Could No Longer Contain Themselves (Rose Metal Press)

Strategies Against Extinction by Michael Nye (Queen’s Ferry Press)


Inscriptions for Headstones by Matthew Vollmer (Outpost19)


Noon Annual (Noon, Inc.)

Various and sundry issues of Quiet Lightning’s Sparkle and Blink

4. You used to live in ATL and assisted Laura with her Vouched table there for a bit. How did you come to be involved with Laura and Vouched Books? What made you wanna start your own table?

Actually, Laura and I go way back. Wikipedia has a picture of our ancestors (Teddy Roosevelt and James Garfield, Jr.) hanging out together back in the day (See attached). That is not a joke.

In this century, Laura and I first met through PURGE, an online magazine we both wrote for. Our relationship went something like this:

1. Laura and I joke about how we are always overwhelming our editor at PURGE with our boundless enthusiasm; Joke morphs into a number of grand ideas that just get bigger and bigger.

1(a). (Do not joke about anything with either of us unless you want all your dreams to come true).

2. I begin volunteering with Vouched because I love the books and I love Laura. Laura gives me the title Lovely Assistant (which I shared with brighter and more charming volunteer, deer-shaped lamp Doey Zechanel).



(Laura and I are wearing hilarious matching outfits, lit by Doey Zechanel’s sultry glow)

Me: Hey! I’m thinking about moving to The San Francisco Bay Area!

Laura: !!!! You totally should! You would thrive there!

Me: I know!!!

(Laura goes onstage to compete in Write Club, returns covered in opponent’s blood, picking teeth with his/her bones. Eyes all asparkle like she’s been serenading woodland creatures.)

Laura: OMG (Puts hand on my arm; her big Disney princess eyes all serious-like.) You should bring Vouched to San Francisco.


Laura: !!!!!

Me: !!!!!!!

Doey Zechanel: /glitterglitterglitter

(Laura belches primly; opponent’s soul floats from her mouth, haunts the local Green’s liquor store parking lot forever.)

5. Tell us more about yourself as a writer, artist, musician, person. Weren’t you in a sexy band? What’s your own writing like?

You must be referring to my stint performing with an Afro-Cuban horror punk cover band, years ago. That’s another thing that started out as a joke. My salsa partner and I used to dress up as orishas or Catrinas and dance with a machete. Sometimes he would unfurl my sash and twirl me back in so it became a blindfold (inadvisable on rickety stages). There was also a time or two I climbed up and danced upon the stand-up bass while the bassist strummed away. Those were the coolest things we ever did–mostly we would dance completely unchoreographed and at breakneck speed, and my main objective was to avoid getting dropped on my head. I mostly succeeded.

I feel like that’s also a pretty accurate description of my writing. Blindfolded; unchoreographed; objective of not falling on my head.

6. What, in your opinion, does Vouched SF add to that area’s arts and lit community? What can you and Vouched learn from that community?

There is so much we can learn from the SF art and lit community! It’s a huge, well-established scene here, yet everyone has welcomed Vouched with wide-open arms and beers. I like to think of us as a really enthusiastic little sister who shows up at events and helps however we can. But like, a little sister with go-go-Gadget arms and legs and laser eyes. Kind, loving laser eyes. Also we should have that detective hat he wears, with the go-go-Gadget propeller. And the propeller should be made of books. It’s not great for flying, but we don’t need to fly anyway. We like it here.

Vouched fills the same gap in San Francisco as in all our other cities–people care a lot about small presses here, and yet there is still an overwhelming need to promote them. Organizations like Small Press Distribution in Berkeley are already doing a fantastic job in that arena, and partnering with them only turns us into sort of an unstoppable Voltron(TM) of small press love. We want to bring together as many people that care about literature as we possibly can, and the Bay Area community is really ripe for that.

Plus we have the gin in my pocketbook. We can add gin to the arts and lit community. God knows there’s never enough gin.*

*Vouched Books does not endorse the SF Vicereine’s habit of drinking like an old lady from backwoods New England. We encourage our readers to show a little more self-respect.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: