2014 was a banner year for both Dalton Day and Annie Clark; the eponymously titled St Vincent was on numerous Best of 2014 music lists, and Dalton found his poems popping up all over the net in journals like PANK, Hobart, The Bohemyth, Ampersand Review, Electric Cereal and heaping helpings of other sites. His capacity for wonder and joy is infectious, and when he mentioned he was shopping a chapbook of poems inspired by St Vincent, it was an obvious choice to court him to be the first title on FreezeRay Press. All this, and he helps edit this mag too.
St. Vincent because when I saw her perform live on March 5th, 2014, I was some kind of mountain. I was filled with flocks of panic, from different directions about different things. My grandmother was very sick & I was spending most of my days & nights going back & forth from hospitals. I felt a pressure to do so many things with my life, to be in so many different places & times & moments & I felt like more shadow than body & all of it was getting the goodness of me.
& then I saw St. Vincent, whose music I hadn’t listened to very much before, & the rooms in my heart rattled. All of a sudden, my panic had a sound, a shape, a spectrum of light & storm that was this woman, so recklessly precise on that stage. At one point she said to the audience something about how when you see people sometimes you imagine their faces as baby faces still attached to their adult bodies. & I was all YES. & my heart was all flutterscaped! & my eyes were all RAIN. When she performed “Prince Johnny” & became a river down a flight of stairs on stage, I felt so landed, so here, so unghost. When she performed “Strange Mercy” against one lone light like a moon like THE moon, I was shiverless & safe & safe & safe. I wept, because this woman was pointing out the doorway in a room of badness.
2. Tell us a bit about the process of assembling this chapbook. Did you set out from the start to create a suite of poems, or did the idea emerge after the poems started manifesting? Are the poems tied to individual songs/albums? Or are they born more from a general response to Annie's music?
I wrote “What We Expect” first, & it was just a one off poem based on feelings the music overwhelmed me with. But I was so overwhelmed, I wrote another, & another, & then hello forest, I noticed a chapbook forming. I think I had around thirty or so total, before I made the cuts, trying to assemble the poems which made the most sense together, which was the truest to the feelings, to the songs, to my panic.
3. The book's title is a reference from the song "Huey Newton", which Annie has said was written in an Ambien haze. What's the significance of that title/song to you, and does it inform what's going on inside the pages?
Oh, that song. That song is such a DREAM, both literally & in heartspeak. It’s such a quintessential example of what St. Vincent’s art does for me: calms me, but also illustrates the unsettled dust I carry through so much of me, & plays it all back, into the world. That moment at 2:38 when the song just unthroats - just ropes you in with lightning & grace, oh that KILLS me backwards, every time. That transition from dream to sharp, that’s the poems. That’s the title. That’s the endlessness yes yes yes! “perpetual night?” THAT. She gets it so loudly, so bloomingly. There are tears in my eyes RIGHT NOW.
4. Let's say FreezeRay Press had a music division and could release a Fake Knife soundtrack. What songs would absolutely positively have to be on the mix?
1. [Sound of trees growing, but rapidly sped up, over the course of three minutes, a distant gunshot heard, probably a hunter, missing a deer, & is that, thunder? How nice.]
2. “Cruel,” St. Vincent
3. “Mood Indigo,” Charles Mingus
4. “Electric Lady,” Janelle Monaé
5. “Huey Newton,” St. Vincent
6. “The Forest Awakes, “St. Vincent & David Byrne
7. “Loneliness #3 (Night Talking,” Arcade Fire, from the Her Soundtrack
8. “POWER,” Kanye West
9. “Marrow,” St. Vincent
10. “Don’t Swallow the Cap,” The National
11. “Myth,” Beach House
12. “Severed Crossed Fingers,” St. Vincent
5. Jeremy Radin was kind enough to contribute a foreword love letter to both you and Annie, and I know the love is mutual. Are there any other poets whose work you were geeking out on while writing these poems?
Oh, Jeremy Jeremy Jeremy. The love IS mutual. The love IS astronomical. The love IS a new planet with lightbulbs growing on the trees & where paw prints are the global currency. If Annie Clark is the sky of my creative heart idols,, then Jeremy damn Radin is the whole ground. He has been my mentor, my heart re-petal-er, my city of if you’ll keep going, I’ll keep going. I love him so much, & if anyone is reading this, STOP & go read Jeremy’s work, GO HERE NOW.
But I am always geeking out over so many poets all the time forever.
Sara Woods, who designed the cover of Fake Knife, has helped me so much as me being a poet person body wing. Her book, “Wolf Doctors” was something like a bible, something like a flotation device for me this year. Bless all her dreams & hearts & yeses. May she never stop writing poems or being in this world. I LOVE Sara. (moonbears.biz)
Heather Christle. I read all her books this year & was completely defogged. She inspired me to play in my poems, to turn my getting overwhelmed by everything in this world into poems into sounds into shapes into lights. GOODNESS I love her poetry. Sometimes I can’t be sure if I have a favorite poet & then sometimes I have no doubt it’s Heather Christle.
John Mortara. John was someone else who helped me with so much of my growing this year. They made a tree out of me. They write such necessary, visceral poems. They are such an example of the importance of light & poetry & kindness & I love love love them. I can’t get their upcoming book, some planet, in the next few months, fast enough. (johnmortara.com)
Cassandra de Alba. Cassandra is the first, & only, person outside of those who worked on it, to read my book. Because I trust her. Because I believe in her sensibilities & arrival through the air of this world. Because when I read her poems I just want them to be projected momentarily across clouds because folks need such shaking up. Yes yes. http://outsidewarmafghans.tumblr.com/
THANK YOU SO MUCH ALL OF YOU YES YOU & YOU & SAY HEY TO YOUR DOG FOR ME PLZ