Malone & Savoca Week (5): Kendra & Matthew Interview Each Other
(note: Kendra’s keyboard is broken so none of her text is capitalized. She would really like it if someone wanted to buy her a computer.)
Matthew: Can you briefly describe the timeline of events surrounding the entirety of Everything is Quiet, from inception to publishing, including the total amount of time that the poems span?
Kendra: okay. four years ago i moved to new york for a job. three years ago i got laid off from that job. three years ago i started drinking everyday and writing a lot because i wanted to just use up my savings instead of getting another job. two years ago, or maybe a little more i started submitting things to magazines. a year ago i compiled a manuscript. six months ago jeremy spencer accepted the manuscript and told me he was releasing it in six months so i could be released with you. i think the poems span about three years of my life. some go back a little farther. some don’t really have time frames at all.
most of your work is grounded in the quietness of domestic life, and the listless struggle of it all. do you ever intend to do this? how does your domestic partner(s) view your work?
Matthew: I’m pretty sure that I don’t intend it in the sense that it is something I really try to convey. What I’m usually trying to do is “get things right”. It’s a whole lot different from “make things right” which I think has more in common with the general idea of being deliberate, which I am not.
I think my domestic partner probably views my poetry as something good that it is “doing something” – that’s a phrase she has used before – but she also feels bored sometimes in reading about her own life, and then other times she enjoys it in the way we all do, and then in one final way, when she reads it she learns things that I was thinking and feeling that she was unaware of previously.
Kendra: do you ever use your work to convey messages to her?
Matthew: Well, I guess in a way I do, but not in a way that is like secretive and with some sort of agenda. When I write poems that address her, I could just as easily be using the telephone, and maybe I even am. But with poems my voice doesn’t get in the way.
There is a poem called I Can Picture You Eating A Banana And Your Seventies Haircut. In it, you use asterisks to separate the sections. You only do this in one other poem in this collection and it portrays time in a similar way, I think. So, the question here is: what does time feel like to you? Does the way time feels change? Do you think of time as separate and apart from space or are they always together?
Kendra: time doesn’t feel like anything that there are english words to describe and that is why i write poetry. yes, i never know what time it is. sometimes i feel like ive slept for days and its only been a few minutes. sometimes i feel like i’ve been staring at you for a few seconds and it’s been almost ten minutes. time isn’t really anything without context. i won’t even pretend to understand the relationship of time and space. i want to understand it, but now i will lie on the floor and just say i don’t know i don’t know i don’t. i’m so sorry.
can you explain the drawings in the book? why are they there, what are they suggesting? did you draw them? how would the book be different without them? and what the fuck is the whole congratulations pigeon about?
Matthew: I wanted to put drawings in my poetry book ever since reading Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen. I guess they are just giving little examples of one way in which things could be visualized. I drew some of them, and traced others. They also serve to break up the book at certain parts, because it doesn’t have any breaks otherwise. The congratulations pigeon one depicts a pigeon graduating. It comes right after a part about how pigeons are really smart and can learn many things.
The poems are often addressed to a ‘you’ even though it is clear that the ‘you’ is a different person often. What do all the yous have in common besides the obvious?
Kendra: yes, there might be thirty different ‘yous’ in the book. what is the obvious? i really don’t know. for me, what they all have in common is that they moved me so much that when i was alone again, i was still thinking of them. and when i think of people i feel a similar sensation to them actually being there with me, so it felt natural to write a second person poem for all of the ‘yous’. often people think things that i have written about family members or platonic friends are poems and stories about lovers, if i don’t indicate the position of the ‘you’ in my life. for instance, i saw a few reactions to ‘rape children’ that said it was about a lover. but it was never about a lover, and it never felt romantic to me. i went to visit daniel bailey because we wanted to meet and he couldn’t come to new york. i felt a lot of love for him on the visit and it was a really moving experience, but there was no romance happening. i think people like romantic love so much, that when it is left vague they will project romance onto the love.
there are a lot of questions in your book. are they rhetorical? what do you feel when you write a question into a poem. do you feel like those questions might be answered, or at least, do you want them answered? do you ever feel defeated by your questions?
Matthew: I guess they’re rhetorical. I mean, I don’t know. They’re just out there without any rules. If someone wants to answer them, I’ll listen. I might think, “no way, man” once I hear the answer or I might not. I feel more defeated by answers, because questions float in the air and asking one is just like pointing at something and saying what it’s called but answers are like grabbing that thing and taking it home and putting it on your wall but never really looking at it again until someone comes over and points at it and says what it’s called and then you say, “oh yeah, that, a lover gave it to me.”
I keep coming back to the poem I Can Picture You Eating A Banana And Your Seventies Haircut and I think it’s because it’s the only “you” poem in the collection in which I want to be both people. Can you hypothesize what is it about that poem that does this to me?
Kendra: i never thought anyone would ask me a question like that. to be honest i’m completely blindsided by it. i think this is definitely a reflection of you and what you desire from things. i think you feel that way because in the poem neither of us makes any progress with anything and things are just a bit stranded, which is how you seem to live your life. can we make lunch now? i’m really hungry.
[Visit Scrambler Books & pick up these two’s books here.]