This is an interview with Davis Land and you can find more about Davis Land here.
do you consider yourself a ‘writer’? Is that what you tell people when they ask?
I think I’m introduced as a writer, or participate in spaces that recognize me as a writer, more often than I self identify as one. I don’t know if I’ve done any one thing long enough, or have been “successful” enough, to be totally “branded” (I hate those words (is it a cliche to hate those words?)) as anything. Really I just like creating things, I like listening to and telling stories, I like expressing stories and ideas in interesting ways. So if “writer” falls under that (which I think it does), then yeah, I would consider myself a writer, though maybe not as my primary defining quality.
but you do a lot of radio stuff, too right? actually i just clicked on your Facebook page and noticed you were interning in Woods Hole. That’s like the mecca of public radio now. My neighbor went there last year for the Transom Workshop. Here’s his podcast: http://www.neighborsaudioshow.com/ and he just started this podcast collective: http://www.theheardradio.com.
Yeah! I am just starting out in the radio world. Interning at Transom is a great and I’m learning a ton. Audio storytelling is such a creative, challenging, and inspiring medium to me. I wish more people would recognize the power of it. Often when I send podcasts or stories to friends of mine I feel like they just kind of ignore it and think I’m the weird person who still thinks radio is relevant. But it is! There’s so much great work being done in radio that just isn’t being and can’t be done anywhere else, you just have to take the plunge into giving it a try.
what shows or podcasts do you recommend? or what are your faves right now?
I listen to a lot but the top ones I’ve recently subscribed to are: Love + Radio, Mystery Show, Pitch, Neighbors, Nocturne, and The Anxious Machine (those last three are from The Heard collective). I there’s any show writers should be listening to it’s The Memory Palace.
why did you ‘re-brand’ alien mouth from ‘mostly water…’ and what do you hope to accomplish w/ ‘alien mouth’?
The initial push was that I began to hate the name. The title was too long and there wasn’t a way to abbreviate it that made much sense. When I started mostly water it was kind of a one time thing and the name made a lot of sense for that one time, then I got the crazy idea to do it monthly without much planning at all. We ended up putting mostly water on hold for a while because I moved to Massachusetts for the summer and James Leaf (the managing editor) moved to Germany for the summer. The purpose of mostly water was really to bring in great writing to expose in Bryan, Texas (all the copies of mostly water were handed out for free in Bryan) and with the two of us in different locations there was no good way to continue that model.
With Alien Mouth we’ve shifted focus to just making cool things with cool people. We moved the publication online both to bring in a wider readership and to allow us to publish a higher quality physical edition quarterly (used to be James and I, in my bedroom, printing on the cheapest laser printer we could buy, but now we’ll be doing perfect-bound editions with nice soft covers you’ll want to put your face on). Personally I want to put more focus on reviews, articles, and other non-fiction like one of those big kid journals.
but do you think journals are losing their “brands”? Isn’t it just as valuable to have an interesting article or blog post shared rather than “collected”? So…defend the concept of a journal.
This isn’t something I’ve thought a lot about. Personally I value having a curated collection of things (whether to read, listen to, watch, etc…) just because it is so easy to be overwhelmed by all of the content out there. To have a group or person I trust put together a list gives me precise places to look and I like that. I also feel like if I find a journal that consistently publishes writing that I like or that I find innovative I can trust that journal to continually deliver stuff like that. So for the “success” or visibility of a journal/site maybe it is better to publish “sharable content” (who is the BuzzFeed of indie lit?) but if I’m looking for things that really suit my taste I’m much more likely to stick with a journal or even a newsletter that compiles different pieces all in one place rather than my Facebook feed, though I find a lot of new and exciting stuff that way as well.
do you personally submit poems or stories to a lot of places?
Not as often as a lot of people. Every three or four months I’ll send out a few poems but I don’t put a lot of focus on submitting. Most of the writing I do ends up in longer form projects with ideas/overarching themes or storylines that don’t really fit into the format of a journal or ezine. Often I’ll self pub my own collections (by often I mean like, every six months or so). I think mostly what keeps me from submitting to more places, even for chapbook contests that would accept longer form projects, is insecurity in my own writing.
what was your introduction to indie literature? what authors or writers have you been excited about recently?
In 2012, a friend of mine tagged a poem on Tumblr with, “alt lit” and I thought it was a joke riffing off of like, “alt rock” or something. But I started seeing one or two more people tagging with that and went digging. I think the first journal I started reading was Bear Parade. The first “alt lit” book I bought was Megan Boyle’s selected unpublished blog posts of a mexican panda express employee and I thought it rocked. Of course a lot has changed since.
Last March I did some readings with Oliver Mol while he was in Texas and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, strangely (and shamefully) that was my first introduction to his work. I feel like anything Luck K Shaw gets her hands on turns to gold. manuel arturo abreu did the cover art for my last chapbook and ever since I’ve been continually impressed, educated, and smitten by their work. Beyza Ozer is doing great stuff with their writing and being in charge of seven trillion different projects. John Mortara gets the award for the most extensive, awesome, and inspiring tour of the year, if not ever. I recently picked up Nick Flynn’s new book, My Feelings, and I’ve loved it just like all the rest of his stuff. I have a bajillion other people I want to talk about as well, but I’ll leave it at that.
i follow you on spotify and i think we listen to some of the same stuff, like some emo and punk rock stuff. but what music do you most personally identify with?
That’s a tough question. Recently I’ve been listening to Hop Along’s first album (from when they still called “Hop Along, Queen Ansleis), Freshman Year, and I’ve “identified” with it a lot.
Identifying with music is an odd thing for me though because I don’t really listen to the lyrics of a song. Most often I hear the vocals as just another instrument. What I feel in music is more the rhythm and general tone than actual subject matter. Listening to music helps me understand things that I’m otherwise having a hard time phrasing or putting into language. I’m a very anxious person and a lot of times whatever I’m listening to helps me work through that anxiety or helps me reach a headspace where my mind isn’t racing with 200 thoughts at once. Punk in particular gives me a place to specifically focus that energy where I can get out of my head for a few minutes. Techno and ambient both put me into a more muted focus where it’s like I’m not thinking at all and I can just focus on work work whatever I’m doing. Both of those are really nice feelings. There’s also (and I’ll make this my last point on music because I could write about it forever) a way that more emotional music helps me sort out my emotions. Sometimes it takes the mood of certain songs to help me recognize the way I feel towards something, like it gives me permission to feel. Often I just try to remain unaffected because I get scared that my feelings aren’t valid or that I am not allowed to feel them, music helps me get past that.