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Thursday, October 1, 2009
D. Scott Miller interviews giovanni singleton
D. Scott Miller: In what ways does truth - however you define it - enter into your work?
giovanni singleton: Not sure if truth of my own making/definition enters into my work. Such has proven to be a rather nasty stumbling block in previous writing endeavors. The work, I feel, brings a certain truth along with it. And it isn't always pleasant, reasonable, recognizable, or even coherent to me. Honesty and trust are perhaps more my domain.
DSM:Reading your work, particularly ascension, I'm struck by the dream-like nature of your imagery. How do dreams play within your work? How do you capture the ethereal quality of a dream or translate it into something accessible to the reader?
gs: Those are good questions. Tough. I often find playing in the back of my mind the lyrics of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, the last line of which is "Life is but a dream." What I am interested in are ways in which it might be possible to give "dream" and "reality" equal weight and measure. Neither is elevated above the other. I'd like to see/think of them as being both plausible and implausible. I am reminded of the Lankavatara Sutra's words "Things are not as they seem nor or they otherwise." This then dismantles the dualistic relationship between dream and reality. I like that open field. Dreams can be useful when not appended to Hope and Fear which again makes for a field that's open. I think an ethereal quality is somewhat necessary in order to deal with struggle and with its cessation. Impermanence as well as a connection/recognition of something greater than the "I" is also in the language of dream or the ethereal. No real in unreal. No real in real either.
DSM: Boundaries (between artist and subject, reader and writer, subject and object, object and other) sometimes seem to disappear in your larger pieces. Is this intentional or just a by-product of your process?
gs: In most instances in a life, good boundaries are important. Mind the fence. However, it is a big relief when the veil drops away and reveals the interconnectedness that holds the universe together. I wasn't aware that working on larger/longer pieces allowed for this to happen but I suppose it does. It's the removal of excess. Spaciousness is amazing canvas, I think. Erasable too.
D. Scot Miller is a Bay Area writer, visual artist , teacher, curator. He sits on the board of directors of nocturnes (re)view, and is a regular contributor to The East Bay Express, San Francisco Bay Guardian, Popmatters, and Mosaic Magazine. He is completing a book of poems, his Afro-surreal novel, Knot Frum Hear, and has recently published his old fashioned manifesto simply titled: AfroSurreal.
giovanni singleton, a native of Richmond, VA and former debutant, is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view, a journal dedicated to innovative and experimental work of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces. Her work has appeared in a number of publications including Aufgabe, Callaloo, MiPOesias.com, Alehouse, Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets for the Millennium, the Best of Fence: An Anthology, and is forthcoming in What I Say: Innovative Poetries by Black Artists in America and Writing Self and Community: African American Poetry After the Civil Rights Movement. Work from her AMERICAN LETTERS series was selected for San Francisco’s 1st Visual Poetry & Performance Festival. Her recently completed manuscript ascension is informed by the music and life of Alice Coltrane. She collects bookmarks and enjoys figs and greek style yogurt.