Tag Archives: Vouched Atlanta

Awful Interview: Maggie Ginestra

7 Mar
photo by Matt Vrabel

photo by Matt Vrabel

Maggie Ginestra is a recent Atlanta transplant. She’s done a good job adapting to her new habitat with its camellias and balmy, bourboned summers. Her poetry can be found all over the place. For instance – Super Arrow and the Sow’s Ear Poetry Review or in her chapbook Deep in the Safe House. Maggie will be reading at the Animal Bodies Release Party on Thursday, March 14th at Youngblood Boutique!

You just moved to Atlanta about a year ago, right? Are you pleasantly surprised with how A-town holds it down? Disappointed? Confused?

There’s a storm of city-talk we’re all weathering.  Is it always this way?

I’m usually living a few fantasies alongside what’s real, and right now my favorite is that I live where I was born and always have.  The closest I came to this was when I moved to a tiny town that people just don’t move to, so the residents there only knew how to treat me like a local after the initial holding of breath.  I guess I eventually left because it was a tiny town that people just don’t move to.  But no regrets!  It was on the beach, and I made a few life-long friends.

When you ask if I’m pleasantly surprised, disappointed, confused– I have to ask you, since we haven’t met yet, how’d you know I’m always making that face?

Because I can hold little things in my mind better than I can big things, it is easy to love Atlanta.  I know my particular footpath to the farmer’s market in Grant Park on Sunday better than I understand the difficult and/or unconventional paths we are all carving out because “the commute” sucks and public transit is insufficient, for example.

That is the third time someone has mentioned the Grant Park Farmer’s market in the past few days. Does that make it a buzz word? Could you describe the farmer’s market to me? Be as vivid as possible.

The market is on the opposite side of Grant Park from where I live, so it’s a walk around the zoo and then north toward an increasing density of dogs and strollers.  Usually I see Katie Hayes before anyone else. She’s the Market’s prime mover, and she orbits in cowboy boots and a pretty dress, grasping a clipboard but smiling.  Then there are local musicians Billy Mitchell and Emily Kempf, talking about kittens or holding one.  Matt Arnett taps me on the shoulder and introduces me to somebody famous who’s just passing through.  I am worried the Jerusalem artichokes will sell out if I don’t stop talking to all
these nice people.  It’s usually damp because Sundays like rain.  I can’t see all the tents at once because they follow the curve of the walking path, so there’s always the sense that the best vendor is
around the corner, that there’s something new to discover.  The yogurt guy strikes up sardonic conversation while I try to choose between Pumpkin Pie and Tropical Sweet Heat, my two favorite flavors.  I never get both, because I know there’s next week, at least for most of the year.  It must be the buzzword right now because we are smack dab in the middle of 4 market-less months.  It’s insufferable, really.

That is so picturesque! Especially the part with Billy, Emily, and the kittens. Also the artichokes. And the ice cream… okay, the whole thing. What are some other buzz words right now, in your opinion?

So buzzwords are… when spoken, like a button being pressed in some detached laboratory, right? Or a hyperlink to a picture of a naked old man dancing?  Where do they come from!?!?  They make me nervous.  And the Zeitgeist is no fun anymore! We don’t spend any time with our own ideas before we realize everyone else is having them too.  I am worried about this because we all need time with things before sharing them so that each iteration is a little different and make a whole story of existence in a moment, together.  This is different than everyone talking about the farmers market this week, but maybe not. What if people get bored of the farmers market in a few years? That would be so insane!  It’s so the first step to all the right things.

 I think buzzwords and memes are manufactured by the same machine that may or may not resemble a loom. Bad tweets are its byproduct.
Does the future scare you sometimes?

A good ol' fashioned buzzword

A good ol’ fashioned buzzword

No, but I don’t plan to have children.  I’m pretty sure I love the future too well and sort of fly away from the present at inopportune moments.

Oh, and when I fly, literally, in planes, I like to tell myself over and over again that it’s completely insane that I’m suspended in the air–now, in the air, right now, floating, thousands of feet up–until I’m dizzy.  I love it, and it’s not fear at all.  So I’m pretty alright with the future and its fractal of possibilities.  I think
it’s a personality flaw in the survivalist sense.

So if you’re flying over the future, what is the view of next week’s reading like?

From up here, Laura, it just looks like a big bunch of pelicans kicking up phosphorescence in the surf.

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An announcement!

27 Feb

Youngblood

Running a Vouched table has its restrictions- Christopher & Tyler can attest to this. It is a labor of love that would prove cumbersome otherwise- lugging a table and an oversized rubbermaid of books into different venues, setting up and tearing down. Often, when I side-shuffle with the rubbermaid back to my car after an event, I ponder the limitations of the guerrilla bookstore – how restricted we are by the size, portability, and durability of the books we carry.

Opening a bookstore would contradict the heart of Vouched. It is SO key that we’re nomadic. We have no overhead! No bills to worry about! No employees, really, aside from ourselves! We can keep our price points low and set up the table on a whim if we like. Often, in the Spring and Summer, I contemplate just setting up with some lemonade (+bourbon) on any ol’ sidewalk. We have the freedom to do that.

Still, it is a vexation that certain titles just don’t work with the nature of our guerrilla bookstores. It’s something I’ve struggled with since launching here. That is until Youngblood Boutique approached me a few weeks ago about carrying some of our wares permanently in their store.

Youngblood is a staple here. Located right along the main drag of the Poncey Highlands, they’ve been kicking ass since 2003 by offering a broad variety of fresh work from local and national artists and artisans. Really, their mission is  a broader version of our own. They’ve been fervent supporters of Vouched since we launched here in Atlanta- going so far as to donate their space for our launch reading in July 2011. Here’s a picture from that.

263244_214503008599155_2052809_n

As of March 14th a special run of Vouched Books will be regularly available at the boutique. Being there opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for what can be sold- it’s a thrill to bring a whole new body of literature to the city through this partnership.

To celebrate- we’re throwing a party– a release party taboot! We’re also celebrating the release of David Courtright’s beautiful chapbook of poetry Animal Bodies– lovingly designed, hand-sewn & assembled collection of poetry from Two Steps Press in Athens, GA. It will stir your insides! Our readers for the evening? David Courtright, Molly Brodak, Bruce Covey, and Maggie Ginestra. Plus, there will be music from Christ, Lord! All of this goodness will take place on Thursday, March 14th. Readings will commence at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s a promotional video for the chapbook.

The next few weeks will be full of reviews, interviews, etc. to get you as pumped as I am!

Awful Interview: Jamie Allen

29 Jan

Jamie Allen

If you’ve heard me talk about squirrels in the past six months, Jamie Allen is to blame. He’s the founder of the Inman Park Squirrel Census.  Ping-pong is his current game of choice, but if you ask he also has a lot to say about baseball and cricket. Jamie Allen is in the top five most inquisitive people I have ever met. He’s been published in places like the Missouri Review, The Morning News, McSweeney’s, and Salon. You can hear him read on February 7th at the Goatfarm here in Atlanta. It’s going to be splendid.

Jamie, you are much taller than me. What’s the view like up there? How’s the weather?

I’m 6’2”, just like my father. Inside my head, though, I’m shorter. By that I mean, when I think of myself, I think of myself as being somewhere between 5’10” and 6’0”. And when I come across a picture in which I’m standing next to someone who is shorter than me, I’m always struck by how goony I look. Imagine Woody Allen stuck in my body. Fade in on comedy. That’s my life.

Further to this, I’m always impressed with people taller than me for no other reason than they are taller than me. I stand up straighter when near them, as if it might make some difference in our interaction. But here’s the funny thing about that: I simultaneously and fully realize that other people can live their lives without the advantage of excess height, and do quite well with it. You, Vouched, as you have alluded, are not tall. You’re kind of small. But you possess a comfortable confidence in exactly who you are. You draw people to you. I slump when I stand next to you because I want to be closer to what you have to say. So I guess the view and the weather are the same when we’re standing next to each other.

How can you be so sure? How do you know my blue isn’t your yellow?

You mention colors. I don’t know if this is a coincidence, but I am a big fan of colors. All colors, I don’t care. I’ve done some research on the subject, and I have found that many people have a favorite color. Isn’t this fascinating? I hypothesize that this ranking of colors starts in school. I think it’s learned behavior. A teacher says, “What’s your favorite color?” and it immediately puts the student on the spot. They don’t even realize they have a choice to not have a favorite color. So they pick something. I discovered this when I realized my children have favorite colors. At first, I laughed at them – how can one have a “favorite” color? But then I realized they were serious. And then I realized my favorite color is either red or brown. Do you have a favorite color?

I do. Two, actually: mustard and blue. Blue can mean a lot of things though. I don’t mean navy, or cadet, or royal, or cerulean or anything. I mean that weird kind of blue that is between all of those. Do you know what I mean? Try to describe it more successfully than I did.

Oh, I get it now. This is an essay test. OK, well, I think I have mentioned to you, Vouched, that I write terribly to assignment. But I’ll play: I think you mean the color of blue that is in your heart, or a blues singer sitting with his old guitar on a dusty porch on a warm and shiny spring day, or a warm blue taco on a plate in a land of green. With mustard on it? My daughter got me a mustard-colored knit hat for Christmas. I’m very happy with it. My favorite color is now that specific yellow. Do you take your pretzels with mustard? Or do you do that cinnamon-sugar with the sugar sauce thing? Mustard makes me think of pretzels at a baseball game, and that reminds me that I would like to attend more Braves games this year.

Yes, that is the blue I was referring to (all of them). A+, thank you. I hope that Red and Brown’s feelings aren’t hurt now that you’ve left them for Mustard. I do take my pretzels with mustard, especially the whole grain kind if it’s available OR the horseradish kind that really kicks you in the sinuses.
Braves games are fun. What else would you like to do more of this year?

I think there is a movement afoot in which people are against New Year’s resolutions. It’s building momentum, like that wave of hate that large groups of people feel for Valentine’s Day, or the commercialization of love. But now it’s resolutions. More than ever, I’ve heard/read people expressing reservations with or even outright anger towards the idea of making resolutions – one argument being, you know, you’re perfect the way you are, just live your life, or at least don’t buy into something you’re going to fail at anyway. I can see validity in this. But I make a Resolutions & Goals List each year. I fail each time to achieve what’s on that list, but I still do it. And I just did one, so your question is timely. Among the things on my list to do more of: Cuba. Running and eating. Finishing things I start (i.e., stories, ahem). Ping-ponging. Counting squirrels. Reading. Yoga-ing, maybe? Napping, definitely. And appreciating my kids in that silent way that only parents who stare at their children until their children say, “What are you looking at?” can understand.

Are you pro- or anti-New Year’s resolutions, Vouched? I bet you have a big year ahead!

What is with the anti-resolution movement? I think it’s healthy to reflect on your state of affairs and admit to your weaknesses and aspire to do things differently. Coasting through life makes things stagnant. Plus, I like lists. *Steps off of soapbox* I’m pro New Year’s Resolutions. I also hope to always have big years ahead.
How do you respond to your kids when they catch you staring at them? Do you hug them real tight? Do you shrug it off with a, “Oh, nothing.”?

Hugging them, even touching them lightly, would cause them to cry out in pain. They’re like vampires and I’m sunlight. They’re like the Wicked Witch and I’m a bucket of water. I was running in the Peachtree once, right through that section they call Jesus Junction with all the churches. You’ve run this race before, Vouched; you know what I’m talking about. There are people on the side of the road, drinking things and shouting positive reinforcement and ringing bells and spraying hoses, the whole way. So I was making way through the church part, and out of nowhere, it seemed, this priest stepped off the curb with, like, a bucket of I guess it was holy water and this religious-looking sort of object that was about the size and shape of a microphone but was actually built to splash water. (I’m sorry, I know there are names for these things, but I am lazy.) And he dipped that thing in the water and splashed a large amount of it right on my face as I passed. Do you know that for a brief moment when it hit my face I worried that it would burn like acid? But it cooled me instead. Felt great, actually. It was kind of a spiritual experience, right there on Peachtree. I wish my kids would realize the same thing about me. They will. Oh, they will. But now, yeah, I guess I just say, “Oh, nothing.”

Are you a vampire or sunlight?

 I hope to be sunlight, though I’m not sure how to ascertain why. May I be sunlight? From what I’ve seen of True Blood, I’d be a terrible vampire. How would you fare as a vampire?

Haha! Fare. Nice one. I suppose I’d fare on vampire fare. But then if you were sunlight – wait, what are you saying? Do you want to kill me?

 So…*twiddles thumbs*… are you pretty pumped for the reading on February 7th? What do you imagine it will be like? Dream big.

Any reading with you, Vouched, is stimulating and unpredictable. I’m excited to see Rachael, Myke, and Jared tell some stories. That’s all I really need. Thanks for inviting me along!

Awful Interview: Rachael Maddux

22 Jan

Rachael Maddux

Are you a fan of tacos? Sandwiches? Nachos? Foods that are dependent on other foods for you to be able to eat them? You and Rachael Maddux have that in common. You probably have more than just that in common, but that’s a start. Rachael and I first met floating down the Chattahoochee River. (True story!) You can read her work in places like the Paris Review’s daily blog, the Oxford American, the Believer, and many other places. She also curates the annual pop-up blog The Unbest. You can hear her read at the Goatfarm on Thursday, February 7th.

So Rachael, why do you like tacos so much?

I should say that in general I’m a really big fan of food that you get into your mouth via other food. Not that I have anything against utensils. Some of my best friends are utensils. But tacos I guess are the most perfect realization of that concept of thin-carby-thing-as-delivery-system. I’m partial to soft-shell flour tortillas, although of course I’ll go for corn and I’ve even been known to wolf down some Old El Paso tacos-from-a-box. It’s more about what’s inside, though. And what’s inside is limitless! The only regular email I get from a place of business that I haven’t re-routed to a sub-folder in my Gmail account is the Weekly Specials update from Taqueria Del Sol, which I always read with great excitement because their special tacos are boss. The Waco is my favorite—barbecued brisket and slaw and some kind of mustardy sauce. Taqueria has kind of ruined me on fish tacos because theirs are so perfect (I recently stopped picking off my pickled jalapenos and that was a big moment). But what’s really great about tacos is that they’re pretty low-commitment—if you have a bad one, you probably still have room for a good one to cancel it out. And like I never say, you’re only as good as your last taco.

Tell me more about the pickled jalapenos moment. The public deserves to know about your revelation.

It was actually part of a much bigger thing that happened last year, which is that I am now into eating spicy foods after a lifetime not being able to handle, like, mild salsa. But my husband, Joe, is a total spicehound and has been all his life (he used to carry around a bottle of Tabasco sauce in a little holster when he was in elementary school) and he also happens to be the primary cook in our relationship. I wouldn’t say that he forced me into this—it’s more like an acquired taste that happened gradually but also seems kind of inevitable. See also: My recent interest in horror movies, Black Sabbath and whiskey. So, yes, for years I would pick all my pickled jalapenos off of my Taqueria Del Sol tacos and push them onto Joe’s plate, but then one day I got real brave and kept them on, and he was sad that he didn’t get bonus peppers, but also proud of me, I think. That plus the first time I was like, “Hey babe, can you hand me the sriracha?” were really special moments in our relationship.

Sometimes I struggle to remember what life was like before rooster sauce, and it all seems so dreary- like life in Pleasantville before Reese Witherspoon came along and sexed up the place. Hey- remember that movie?

I do! Although I’ve only ever seen it on TV so, ironically, all the sexed-up bits were way way less sexed-up. Another “Reese Witherspoon sexes it up” movie (kinda?) is Cruel Intentions, which I saw for the first time recently, and found unexpectedly soul-crushing! I was on a Netflix binge and watched it as a chaser to Young Adult, which was also soul-crushing, though expectedly so. I thought Cruel Intentions would be a goofy proto-Gossip Girl romp through the late-90s, but for some reason it just made me feel awful. The whole night made me hate washed-up ghostwriters and horny teenagers and everyone.

Have you been avoiding up escalators ever since? I still hope for Ryan Phillipe at the top of every escalator, and he’s never there… *SPOILER*

…because he died.

Ryan PhillippeMan, you know, I half expected to have some kind of unseemly sexual attraction to wee Phillipe in that movie, but it just wasn’t happening. I can’t tell if it was him or his character but there was some weird high-strung dorkiness edging right beneath the surface of his cool-guy persona and it really creeped me out. Also he kinda had the NSYNC-era Justin Timberlake ramen-noodle-hair thing going on. In the 90’s I preferred my boys with long, flowing, un-gelled locks, Hanson-style.

Which Hanson brother was your favorite?

Despite my adolescent self’s love of the underdog, which presumably would’ve led me to favor the gangly, brace-faced Isaac, it was beautiful, beautiful Taylor.

If Taylor Hanson was minorly interested (you know, playing it cool) in attending your reading on February 7th, what would adolescent Rachael say to persuade him into attending? What would Rachael now say to persuade him?

12-year-old Rachael would come up with something super charming and brilliant and would probably rehearse the whole conversation a few times in front of her bedroom mirror, then chicken out at the last second. Now-Rachael would be like, “Uh, dude, shouldn’t you be home with your fifteen children and/or trying to write a song half as good as ‘MMMBop’? Yeah, get out of here.”

Awful Interview: Myke Johns

15 Jan

Myke Johns is a truly impressive and overall swell fellow. He’s one third of the brains behind Write Club Atlanta (the organization’s self-appointed Consigliere), a voice on WABE, and a new dad. That is a lot of things. To pile on one more thing, he’ll be reading at the next Vouched Presents here in Atlanta on Thursday, February 7th. We decided to talk about some things before the reading and this interview was the result. *SPOILER* Myke Johns may actually be a hologram.

Myke & friend

Myke & friend

So Myke. Why Y? Why not Mike?

I credit my parents with good taste if not originality when they named me Michael. It’s a good name, a strong name, which is why it was one of the most popular name for boys for several hundred thousand years running. Everyone is named Michael. Even you, though you’ve probably already changed your name to something else by now to avoid confusion.

So when I was an idiotic high schooler, I adopted the Y to be more of an Individual and Special and Crap Like That. “Myke” just looks better on the page than it does spelled with an i and now I feel embarrassed and self-conscious about every decision I’ve ever made.

At least you’re not one of those people who tries to give himself a nickname. You remember those people? They were most abundant in High School and College. Self-appointed nicknames never stick.

It depends on how you go about it. You can’t go around telling everyone you know to start calling you “Spuds” or “Krokus” or whatever (quick aside: I just pulled up Krokus’ “Screaming in the Night” video on YouTube just now. I recommend everyone to do the same, as long as we’re talking about high school. Man, what the hell is even going on in that video?). But I had a friend in college–one of the first people I met there, before you start getting to know your classmates or doing extracurricular stuff; when you’re just adrift and trying to find your people so you just see people who look interesting and you go up and talk to them. Like what crazy people do. He was this slight, quiet goth dude. I introduced myself and he told me to call him Jorge. It took me the better part of a year to figure out that wasn’t his real name at all.

So basically, if you want to give yourself a nickname, you have to move to a different town and assume a new identity. Live in secret. Tell no one of your past. Listen to lots of Bauhaus. This is all good advice, I think.

Recently I got into a really confusing conversation. It went like this:

Me: I’m not sure I would be a good spy.
Friend: You would be a great spy. Are you a spy?
Me: You would be a great spy. Are you a spy?
Friend: NoooOOoo. I’d be a terrible spy. If I were a spy and someone asked me if I were a spy I would be all like, “NoooOOoo. I’d be a terrible spy.”
Me: Wait…so are you spy?
Friend: Wait…are you?

So, Myke. Are you a spy?

Writers kind of are in general, aren’t they? Always paying attention to our friend’s stories and watching new acquaintances for quirks–mining every interaction for material. It’s kind of despicable, really. What was the last thing you stole from someone’s real life to inhabit a story of yours?

My friend saw John Goodman eating a donut. You?

Oh man, that is good. My friend has a celebrity food story that I tell a lot: she was at Hartsfield, waiting in the terminal, in line for frozen yogurt. She gets to the counter and the woman working there has that combination of bored and pissed off that working in food service will put you in. As she’s ringing her up, she sighs and grumbles “that Rod Stewart’s singin’ again.”

My friend perks her ears up and yeah, there’s music wafting from the bar next door. She peeks around the wall and sure enough, Rod Stewart is sitting there at the piano with the same hair do he’s had since 1972, singing to a group of people gathered there. “Huh!” my friend thinks, takes her frozen yogurt, and takes a seat.

A while later, she’s walking back to her gate with her cone and here comes Rod Stewart, walking straight at her, not watching where he’s going and just clocks into her, spinning her around and nearly making her drop her froyo. She watches him walk away and as he does he glances back over his shoulder with this look like “why weren’t you watching where I was going?”

My friend was stunned. She says she regrets to this day that she missed her one opportunity to shout at Rod Stewart to go fuck himself.

Why so smug, Rod?

Why so smug, Rod?

So many things to ask Rod Stewart! Like: why did he have to leave Faces? Why such tight pants for so many years?
If you could ask Rod Stewart one thing, what would it be? Would it be, “Have I told you lately that I love you, Rod?”

I would excitedly ask him what it was like working with Brian Adams on that song from the Three Musketeers soundtrack. Then I would ask him why he nearly made my friend drop her frozen yogurt at the Atlanta airport. Then I would ask what Sting was like. Understand that I would leave very little time for him to actually respond.

Well, naturally. Celebrities are real weirdos. If you became a celebrity, how would you go about being weird?

Oh man, if I had the money and resources to just follow my natural impulses and bring them to fruition, I think that would take care of it. WRITE CLUB bouts between senators and reality television stars? Done. That solo album of acoustic Anaal Nathrakh covers? Released on iTunes. That magazine where it’s basically just me insulting guitarists? Published and on the racks of every grocery store coast to coast. I’d basically just tumble down the rabbit hole of self-indulgence and see where it leads. Probably to collaborations with holograms.

All roads lead to collaborations with holograms. Of the readers you will be reading with on February 7th at the Goatfarm- who do you think is most likely a hologram: Jamie Allen, Rachael Maddux, or Jared Yates-Sexton? Why?

I’d go with Jamie Allen due to his involvement in the Inman Park Squirrel Census–one of the most genuinely bizarre things I’ve encountered in Atlanta. I’m kind of envious that it’s already been done or I would totally have done that when I went hypothetically celebrity cray cray. Anyway, I figure being a hologram would be helpful in doing that work. If it’s not Jamie, it really could be anyone, though you know the saying: if you look to your left and to your right and can’t figure out who is actually a hologram, it’s probably you.

Tonight! The Creative Loafing Fiction Contest reveals the meaning of Life!

10 Jan

FictionContest

I’m really excited to be setting up the Vouched table at Creative Loafing’s Fiction contest again tonight. Last year’s party was full of shenanigans, and there’s no doubt this year’s will have more of the same. You may wonder what makes me so confident. Well here’s a list.

  1. It’s freezies!
  2. Not only is it free to get in, but there’s FREE PIZZA
  3. Write Club Atlanta will have a mini-bout.
  4. The winners will be reading!
  5. Creative Loafing is donating their sales to the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
  6. Sans Abri is playing tunes.
  7. I’ll be there slinging books, duh.

See you tonight! 7pm at the Highland Ballroom.

Awful Interview: The Return of the Holiday Hangover

3 Jan

holiday-hangover

It’s the return of the Holiday Hangover! You may recall the event that HydeATL and I threw last year to cope with our post-holiday blues. Well, we’re going to battle with them again. Once again, here is a medley of responses to Holiday-themed Awful Interview questions from some of the evening’s readers. It’s kind of like a casserole, but with more words. The Holiday Hangover will take place at the Highland Ballroom this Saturday, January 5th at 8pm. Hope to see you there!

Where do snowmen go when they die?

Lauren Traetto: I’m pretty sure snowmen live forever in a dormant state until you put a top hat on their heads and they begin to dance around. Or until you pretend that one is a parson who will marry you and your sweetheart, like in the song “Winter Wonderland.” Have you ever looked into the lyrics of that song? The couple actually pretends that a snowman is a specific clergyman from their community and have a two way conversation with it. That’s fucked up. Later they have a delusion that he is a circus clown who the neighborhood kids beat to a pulp.

Julian Modugno: The water cycle.

Tony Jenkins: All the melted snow is used by mixologists in seasonal, period-correct cocktails that will set you back $15 each.

What winter warmer does Santa keep in his flask?

Noah Gardenswartz: The blood of Jewish children.

Tony Jenkins: A single-malt scotch that is at least 18-years-old. Santa is more sophisticated than people give him credit for.

Jayne O’Connor: Peppermint schnapps. He’s not the hard ass you think he is.

What is that cranberry stuff anyway?

Julian Modugno: This seems to be the sort of question better asked to a Christian.

Lauren Traetto: Holiday art.  A delightful sculpture that is at once delicious, nutritious, AND beautiful–all while delivering a biting commentary on emotional manipulation, consumption, and production during the holiday season. But as for the ingredients, it’s quite possibly made out of snowman pulp after the neighborhood kids have gotten to them. Or reindeer hooves.

If you were a character in a classic holiday movie, who would you be? Why?

Noah Gardenswartz: I’d be Tim Allen in The Santa Clause because Tim Allen gets all the pussy.

Laura Straub: Howard Langston, obviously

Who would win in a Christmas-Carol-off: Frank Sinatra or Bing Crosby?

Lauren Traetto: Jon Moskowitz once made a great mashup of Frank Sinatra and Notorious B.I.G. songs.  Anybody with Biggie in his corner wins. No question.

Tony Jenkins: Bing Crosby was great, but I’m not sure I could ever pick against Sinatra, no matter the competition.

Jayne O’Connor: Frank Sinatra is the Chairman of my board.

(*editorial note* Frank Sinatra won unanimously.) 

What’s your most uncomfortable Christmas memory? 

Julian Modugno: Watching all those horny hens peck at the corpses of Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Tony Jenkins: Christmas 2012 was uncomfortable as hell, since I had ear surgery three days before. Nothing like singing “Here Comes Santa Claus” as blood drips out of your ear and down your neck.

When Santa was in trouble Rudolph used his nose to guide Santa’s sled. Which of your attributes would be helpful if Santa was in trouble?

Jayne O’Connor: I have a pretty nice set of headlights myself.

Noah Gardenswartz: I’m usually high, and could eat whatever milk and cookies he doesn’t want.

Julian Modugno: Whichever trait of mine Santa trusted, I can assure you it would lead to his eventual downfall.

Explain the game of Dreidel in 200 words or less.

Tony Jenkins: You spin the Dreidel really hard and whoever it lands on has to take off their clothes. La’ Heim!! Wait. I’m wrong. It’s actually “whomever.”

Jayne O’Connor: You spin it and win chocolate gold!

Name three additional uses for fruit cake. 

Lauren Traetto: 1. Ballast 2. Jack stand 3. Castaway-style imaginary friend

Julian Modugno: 1. thing that takes up space in your fridge to make it more efficient. 2. easy punchline on a three-camera sitcom 3. homophobic slur

Noah Gardenswartz: 1. Give it to your worst enemy. 2.To give your neighbor’s dog diarrhea. 3. Throw it in the middle of the street and surround it by caution tape and make it a residential dada art exhibit.

Laura Straub’s END O’ THE YEAR list

21 Dec


My futon’s favorite people:
Matt Bell & Brian Oliu, Amber Sparks, and Tyler Gobble.

Cool Presses that started working with Vouched the past six months: Lazy Fascist, Sarabande Books, Queen’s Ferry Press, Curbside Splendor, Spooky Girlfriend, and Black Ocean.

COVER ART: May We Shed These Human Bodies and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan, Vol. 1

People I’m still confused to have not met IRL yet: Mel Bosworth and Christy Crutchfield

My Husband’s Budding Bromances: Ben Kopel, Tyler Gobble, and Kory Calico

Top 5 Stage Presences in no specific order: xTx, Devan Goldstein (when reading and also when he sings the shit out of some Bon Jovi), Amy McDaniel, Zach Schomburg, Peter Davis.

Favorite Dance Party: Lit Party @ AWP- duh! 

Thing that makes me feel like !!! every time I read it: Ravi Mangla’s Visiting Writers from Uncanny Valley Press

Favorite special thing: Electric lit’s recommendations in my inbox. SO RAD. Also Matthew Salesses’ Writer in Residence series at Necessary Fiction.

These book tours came and BLEW ME AWAY: Bloof books tour, The Southern Comfort Reading Tour, & the Over the Top tour.

Awful Interviews that still make me laugh big and large:  Joshua Ware, Michael Nye, Matt Bell, & Nicholas Tecosky (who still owes me an arm wrestle…)

ATL Bookmarks @ Creative Loafing: 7 Atlanta Literary Events To Hit This Week

12 Nov

Here’s a list of this week’s literary happenings up at Creative Loafing! The VouchedATL table will be set up at two of the seven events listed: this Wednesday at Write Club Atlanta ch. 18: Turkeys and other Foul Things and WE AIM TO MAKE YOU SO EXCITED! (Kill Your Darlings and VouchedATL present readings from Nick Sturm, Molly Brodak, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Kory Oliver, Laura Straub, and P.I. Navarro).

Read more about these and more events at Creative Loafing.

Awful Interview: Amber Sparks

17 Oct

You may have heard of Amber Sparks. If you haven’t heard of her yet, and are just now reading her name, Amber Sparks, for the first (and second) time, you may assume she has super powers. For instance, you may imagine sparkles coming out of her fingertips. This is a safe assumption. The latest bit of  lightning her hands have produced is this book called May We Shed These Human Bodies, recently released from Curbside Splendor. She’s coming to read for Vouched Presents in Atlanta on Nov. 9th, so we got to talking…

So, Amber- your new book is titled May We Shed These Human Bodies. How does one go about shedding her human body? In my mind it would look like something out of the 1988 film Beetle Juice.

I love Beetle Juice! I had a huge crush on Michael Keaton in that movie. Yes, I know. That’s odd. I don’t really know how someone would shed their human body, but I picture it sort of like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly, or maybe David Naughton in An American Werewolf in London. I imagine there is a lot of pain, a lot of suffering. I imagine it’s not very pretty and it’s a messy, grisly thing. We don’t give up these bodies easily, I think, much as we might want to.

If you were to go through the agonizing process of shedding your human body- what would you want to turn into?

I’d be a tiger. I’ve given long thought to that one. Sleek, fierce, gorgeous, fast, powerful, terrifying–almost at the top of the food chain. As a small weak-looking female person, there is something awfully attractive about the idea of being beautiful and strong and deadly.

I couldn’t agree more! Plus, you’d make a great tiger. What would you do, as a tiger, in Washington D.C?
Would you become a lobbyist?

Ha! I think more likely I’d go after the lobbyists. Actually, what I would do is just go sit on the floor of Congress and lick my lips and stare pointedly at the Republicans until agreed to every single Democratic piece of legislation put forward. I’d browse on the leg of a Congressman or two, if he or she started getting all legislatey about women’s lady parts.

Sounds like you’d be quite the menace! What’s your favorite Memorial/Museum in Washington D.C.? Also- what do people who live in D.C do in the evenings? It’s difficult to imagine day-to-day life in D.C. beyond field trips.

Hmm…I’d say the Lincoln Memorial. It’s incredible. It’s the one memorial here that I feel really humbled by, every time I go. Museum, oh, probably the Hirschhorn, which is the modern art museum. It’s free! Ha! D.C. is just like any other city – you have the tiny part of the city, the Mall, which is the touristy part. And then there’s the rest of the city, which is actually a pretty fun and hip city with tons of good restaurants and bars, a good music scene, and even a burgeoning lit scene! It’s a very young city, and very international. It’s like any tourist city: there’s a secret city inside that the locals live in and love. So I do what anyone does: go out to eat, meet friends for happy hour, go to museums and galleries, catch shows, go to bookstores – just live in the city.

Have you ever been in any of the secret underground tunnels throughout the city? I heard you have those. Do you have secret passages in your apartment/house even?

Nope! Those are only for VIPs. You know, the people “worth” saving if something terrible happens. I definitely am not one of those people.  I wish my apartment had secret passages. I’ve always wanted to live in a house that had them. But in reality it would probably give me nightmares and I’d never sleep, expecting some ghost to come walking through one any second.

I know what you mean! Do you have nightmares often? I used to. Especially whenever I fall asleep to David Lynch films.

Oh, yes, terrible nightmares. I used to have more when I was younger, and I become a bit of an insomniac because of it. I think my body was afraid to let me sleep. Not after watching anything particular (though my sister used to have terrible nightmares after episodes of Twin Peaks!) but I have a lot of lucid dreams, so I’m one hundred percent convinced at the time that bugs are crawling all over the bed or an intruder has entered the room or whatever. The other nightmare I have, and have had since I was very small, is the one where I’m in a huge old house and there’s a murderer hiding somewhere, waiting to kill me, and none of the light switches work. I’m running from room to room and can’t turn on any lights. I still sleep with the lights on when I’m alone or in a hotel or strange place, and I can’t STAND the kind of haunted houses where you walk through and it’s dark and people grab you.  This is beginning to sound like therapy. Oops.

How does that make you feel?

Ha! Actually, sort of relieved. Can I just let you sort out my problems?

Sure thing! Well, as long as you don’t have a bounty on your head. Is anyone out to get you?

Well, literally, no. But metaphorically, yes. That is to say paranoiacly, yes. That is to say, EVERYONE is out to get me.    

Amber, I hate to break it to you, but on November 9th you’ll be reading in Atlanta with a few of those everyones (Michael Nye, Caroline Murphy, Jamie Iredell, and Kate Sweeney) to some additional everyones. So- anything you need to say to everyone?

Yes! I love you all and you damn writers will be the undoing of me yet, I guess. But what a way to be undone. I can’t wait!