There are people that exist in your subconscious, just on the periphery of your everyday experience and Nolan Allan is one of those people for me. I’ve been following his Twitter for awhile and I’ve seen his poems pop up on all sorts of places, but no collections or anything yet (I don’t think).
I sent him some questions via Google doc and he had loads of great stuff to say, and he has more on Twitter and Instagram. Get to it.
Do you consider yourself a “writer”? Is that what you identify as?
Not really, tbh. Being a ‘Writer’, capitalized w and all, seems weird, like once you name it and declare yourself that, where do you go from there? No shade toward those who describe themselves as such, because obviously many people do identify with that title and that’s wonderful, labels and declarations are v important, grand narratives and whatnot. I do refer to myself as a writer in all my author bios, so maybe the prior sentiments are me just being real self conscious about the trappings of being a writer in this time period.
For me, writing functions as a therapeutic interpretation of the world, delivered through me. Damn that sounded pretentious. I envision myself as an oyster that filters the silty detritus of my life in a constant attempt/failure to create a beautiful nacreous sphere from the trash world of late capitalism we currently live in. Damn that was even more pretentious. Damn, damn.
Are you writing any “longform” stuff or doing much writing right now?
I mean, always, but right now I’m trying to poop out a chapbook whilst traveling to an island off the coast of Maine. I’m actually writing these answers while in the plane next to my girlfriend and her dad lol, so writing something longer while I’m there is a pretty immediate goal for me. I’m kind of in a creative lull at the moment so I’m hoping being surrounded by some pristine nature will spur something in me.
What are you considering doing for the chapbook? Poems or something else? I’ve been trying to push people to put their tweets and FB statuses in books, like Rachel Bell, Beach Sloth or the Mira/Tao book. I did a small one too recently.
Hmm, I’m thinking mostly poems, it’s how my brain literalizes reality at the moment, though I used to filter myself through 140 character bursts via tweets. I have a huge backlog of tweets in my archive that are just begging to be turned into poems/books, using each tweet as a jumping off point for something else.
Maine is such a fertile environment for my brain, I draw much power and energy from nature and Maine is one of the more nature places you can find in the continental U.S., so it’s working out pretty well. A lot of the poems are coming out in a post apocalyptic tone so we’ll see if I continue in that vein lol.
You have a pretty good Twitter presence. Is twitter the social media outlet that you prefer the most, or is there another one that you enjoy more?
I do enjoy Twitter but I’ve recently fallen off the map in comparison with my activity in years past. For several years it functioned as a really powerful confidence booster for me wrt my writing, the immediacy of faving and retweeting gives you incredible feedback when you’re trying to find your voice. I ran with a pretty deep Weird Poetry Twitter (Ed: don’t know if this is a good link or not) crew, so that really allowed us to bounce and build strange images off each other constantly.
I used to be pretty addicted to Twitter, like in a very real and destructive way, and at a certain point it started hurting my real world relationships, so I cut back drastically. The dopamine burst you get from faves (are) both super dangerous or super empowering for writers. You have to balance the freedom/feedback aspects with the performative/distractive aspects.
Right now I’m trying to build up my Instagram and figure out how to tell stories and inspire/instigate people visually, so that’s a fun challenge.
What makes a good Twitter account?
A good Twitter account, whether it be jokes or poems or banal observations, allows you to rediscover what you already know. My favorite literary theorist is Victor Shklovsky, and his major contribution to the canon is the concept of enstrangement, wherein the best writers force you to see objects and concepts you’re familiar with in a previously unthought of way. This applies to all art, writing included.
What Twitter accounts do you admire?
@petfurniture is my absolute favorite account. Danielle is a huge inspiration/friend to me. She teaches us all how to be better people through her beautiful words.
Other accounts I ‘admire’ are @MOUNTENNUI, @postcrunk, @markleidner, @deray, @timescanner, @insuperlative, @jonnysun, @choplogik, @arealliveghost, @TPHD, @higgityboson, @plantandmineral, @darth__mouth
What’s the state of weird twitter right now anyway? And how would you describe what ‘weird twitter’ is / was?
Oh man I have no idea tbh, I rarely venture forth onto WT/general twitter anymore, except to look at the backlog of tweets from my friends or to check in on the various activists I follow. I know most people I was tweeting with back in the day are still out there keeping the flame alive, but I sadly keep up with only a few of them.
What it was was a creative movement of a couple hundred kindred spirits who simultaneously recognized themselves in each other and began a strange otherworldly dialogue with the fragments lying around our brains. It was beautiful and terrifying and hilarious and instrumental to my development as an artist and, *sentimental voice* I loved every minute of it
Do you listen to music or podcasts? what are your faves right now?
I listen to a lot of rap, especially my local hip hop station because they are amazing (shout out 102jamz), and then lots of bleepy bloopy computer music. Been getting into a lot of ‘goth’ music rn? If I’m writing something I’ll usually put on a Kanye album, probably 808’s and Heartbreak because that’s his best one, fact. I’m super out of the loop wrt music, so if I’m looking for something new I just go see what my friend Drew wrote about recently for Noisey lol (hi Drew).
How’d you get into indie lit stuff?
I started reading Tao Lin in college, and was actually on a committee that arranged for him to come do a reading when Richard Yates came out, which was obviously hilarious and awkward in the best way possible. He was dating Megan Boyle at the time so it was really strange to read Taipei years later and get a glimpse at his perspective of that time. From reading their stuff it was a pretty easy jump to other ‘alt lit’ folks, and I guess I’ve been nibbling at the edges of that scene ever since, not withstanding all the terrible shit that happened a few months ago that led to its general disbanding. Did that sound stupid? Does asking a self aware question in an interview mean I’ve reached peak alt lit? Is this interview the final nail in the coffin of alt lit (thank god)?
What stuff are you reading right now? Or writers you’re into?
I’m currently finishing Margaret Atwood’s most recent trilogy of books, the MaddAddam series, which is just so so wonderful, I highly recommend it to everyone. I’m looking forward to buying the Left journal or quarterly or whatever Jackson’s calling it when I get back home, he’s gathered some of the best contemporary weirdo writers in one volume. I’ve been reading a lot of trans/non binary authors lately, as everyone should. Joshua Jennifer Espinoza is simply amazing and her social media presence is perfection. Shout out to all the authors who were with her on the recent Trans Planet reading tour, Jos, Manuel, Die, and Sara. They are all beautiful amazing people whom are avant garde as fuck, if that French shit means anything these days.
It’s hell of stereotypical but my favorite author is Cormac McCarthy. His linguistic powers are incredible, untouchable. I could die happy were I to be thought of as a pale imitation of his grandeur. If forced to choose one book to read for the rest of my life, it would be Blood Meridian. It contains multitudes and I doubt I’ll ever really unpack all of it or its influence on my psyche. Cormac has a lot to do with Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) imo, meaning his writing levels the playing field between humans and non-humans, destroying the artificial boundaries our self-centered consciousnesses have created in order to assure ourselves that the world is ours. There’s a graduate thesis in there somewhere I could write if anyone out there wants to be my Medici family lol.
I read a lot of Critical Theory (laaaaaame) having to do with out nascent post-capitalist possibilities, lots of non-fiction nature writing, lots of science books about plants and minerals and mushrooms and biomes to inspire my fiction, and of course, where would I/we be without Wikipedia? Wikipedia is what I imagined the future would be like as a nerdy child, this thing that exists that any expert or layman could peer review and edit and update for the benefit of humanity. That was hell of cloying but you get the picture.
Do you mind talking about what your current job is? And what do you hope your “career” to be?
Not at all, I’m a waiter at an upscale farm-to-table restaurant in North Carolina, which is strangely not what I majored in in college lol.
I really enjoy it, despite being a walking stereotype of whiteness/portlandia, interacting with humans in that manner is something I’ve been doing for over ten years now, so that and writing are kind of all I know. The hours I work/the relatively generous amount I get paid for those hours allow me to have a nice long day to do fun stuffs with my girlfriend, read/write at my leisure, play with my cats, romp in the woods etc etc. Getting to talk to and deal with all types of people when they’re hungry is a godsend for someone who writes, some of the shit I deal with is impossible to make up, but just as often my day is made by facilitating a gustatory/aesthetic experience that genuinely makes someone happier, and isn’t that what art is for?
Food is starting to become more widely accepted as an art form, and we just got a new chef who’s really trying to do cool shit, which I love. I grew up homeschooled in the rainy forested mountains of western North Carolina so I know a lot about weird delicious stuff that grows in the woods, and I’ve been finding and foraging (nerd alert) a lot of stuff for our chef and making it so that he can create these really cool arcane dishes. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, like I’m one of those fish that swims in and out of a shark’s mouth and cleans their teeth lol.
The word ‘career’ is extremely foreign and inhospitable to my being. I reject the idea of a career, *sentimental voice* I just want to be, man (lol).
Unfortunately, in this current time and place, one is required to have a job if you don’t want to die, but I guess my goal is to make that aspect of my life either as insignificant as possible, or on the flipside, to make it help me become a better person, which is what a career would be I guess? Damn, I think I blew it on the last question lol. Reading back over this answer I think sound slightly crazy, but oh well that’s pretty much correct so thanks for reading to the end y’all, much obliged.