Interview with Angelo Colavita

Empty Set Press button c/o Empty Set Press

Empty Set Press button c/o Empty Set Press

Founding editor of Empty Set Press, ANGLEO COLAVITA lives and writes in Philadelphia, where he hosts Oxford Coma, a nihilist poetry reading series. His work has appeared in Apiary Magazine, The Philadelphia Citizen, Mad House, Rolling Thunder Quarterly, Be About It, Outcast Poetry Journal and elsewhere online and in print. His first chapbook, HEROINes, was published in March of 2017. He talked with us about starting his own small press, doing weird things like printing business cards and buying merch tables, and broadening community through publishing.


Tell Tell: Alright, so Empty Set Press. How did it start? What’s it all about?

Angelo Colavita: I have a fondness for experimental poetry, just the weird in general. And there wasn’t a press in Philly that specialized in that, and I wanted to, from other people’s encouragement, publish a book of my stuff. I was reluctant to because most of my poems were written while I was using heroin. I wasn’t that proud of a lot of it. I wanted to move away from, one, that whole mindset, but two, I wasn’t too productive and I didn’t wanna write a fuckin’ “drug book.” So I compiled a chapbook and turned to Chris McCreary and Shanna [Compton] from Bloof Books, and I was like, “Hey, how should I go about publishing this,” and they were both like, “Yeah, you should start your own press,” instead of self-publishing. So I set up the press strictly to release my own poetry and have it be legitimized in some way. When my book came out, it really just had the Empty Set Press logo.


TT: How did you come up with the name?

It was like the ninth name that I picked. Dark Circle was one, because there’s a poem called “Dark Circles” in the chapbook. I was like, “Oh Dark Circles, that’s like, brooding and cool.” And somebody publishes comics under dark circles. All right, well, what’s like “dark circles.” So I picked something like “Black Dot” - I tried so many with “black” as the name, and there’s so many presses already in existence that are like that, like Black Lawrence, Black Radish, so alright fuck that. So my intermediate algebra course was talking about empty set, which is just, “has no value,” and I was like, “Oh that’s so nihilistic.” So I Googled it, and nobody had Empty Set, so that was the name. And the brackets are cool, so I had a logo and everything. Very minimal effort.

So how did you get into publishing other people’s poetry?

So what was advised of me was that I should set up the press, and as soon as I make the money back, publish someone else immediately, and Maryan [Captan] was the first person I had in mind to publish. I was like, “Who do I know that I work with well creatively,” because there’s a difference between editing and proofreading. I mean we were already sending each other poems back and forth; we have the same kind of work ethic; we both like - the weirder writers the better; and I was shocked too - she’d never had anything published like that. So when I had the money, I asked Maryan if she had a manuscript and said I wanted to publish her, and she had this dream manuscript waiting for someone to publish. So she sent it to me; we did the editing, the layout - she had ideas about the double-sided chapbook, which I loved, and we pumped it out in a month, two months. We spent a lot of time on phone chat, through Google Docs. I think that’s the advantage of a small press too. You get to work really closely with the author. I got to put out something I’m proud of, and something that she’s just ecstatic about.

What comes after you have somebody else in with you?

So while I’m editing Maryan’s book, I’m also setting up Empty Set as an LLC, because I’m fine with just printing my logo on the back of my chapbook and it seems legit, but for Maryan’s sake, I wanted this to be something she could actually reference. Setting up a website, making it an LLC, so it’s like, “Empty Set Press, oh, that’s a real press, it’s not just Angelo.” Even though it essentially is Angelo in his fuckin’ bedroom putting together chapbooks, it’s the start of something bigger.

What’s a regular day, then, now that you’ve got a few titles going?

Regular day, I’m online almost all day. Whether I’m on social media, looking up other presses, other writers, just trying to keep a strong presence, so people see the name, see what we’re doing, and so I see what other people are doing too. Like, as far as community: Healthy competition is good, but I don’t want to say I’m competing. I want to have something different to offer. In my head, Empty Set is doing something nobody else is really doing, as far as the experimental stuff, and rather than seeing that as “the new shit,” this is “a new shit” that can just coexist with popular work. Like bedfellows or Mad House, tremendously popular. Why would I want to step on toes? I’d rather work side by side with them. It just makes the community stronger. So some of the social media isn’t about me. It’s other people’s stuff, readings that have nothing to do with us, stuff related to what we’re doing, even just related in the sense of, “There’s this awesome reading across town, go check out Kassidi Jones at Pecola Breedlove.”

So I spend a lot of time online, check my emails a million times a day. Then usually I’ll come to a coffee shop and I’ll try to have somebody’s manuscript and do some editing - which is where I learn a lot of layout. A lot of [running the press] is learning as I go too. I’m limited because I don’t have professional programs or anything, so I’m learning little tricks. Like, if I get halfway through, save it as a .pdf, and then put it back into a .doc form, I can change other things that I couldn’t do initially, so I’m learning little loopholes with that. So [Maryan Captan’s] Copy/Body was a huge learning experience for me, as far as the actual construction.

What’s one thing you didn’t know you needed to know?

Money. I knew I needed money, but it doesn’t end at filing for your LLC and all that. So - roughly $500 to get registered as a small press business, but then you have your domain name, hosting. I’m completely illiterate when it comes to HTML, so I do Squarespace, which is great, because I get my domain name, they host, and I can do all my commerce. Then there’s knowing sales tax laws, and just, accesories, like a table to sell merch, a banner, business cards, transportation, microphones and amps for readings at weird venues. And printing. I went through Fireball Printing, and they were great. They were mostly doing art prints, and so it was really nice paper, and they were really willing to cooperate with all the weird layout shit. And, again, highlighting the whole community thing, I had a local artist do the cover, I used a local printer, and it just broadens the community and the audience that’s gonna be buying.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened because of Empty Set?

I think a lot of things are weird. I went from being this piece of shit who didn’t do anything with his life, and now I’m, like, driven. I’m doing [Philadelphia's Small Press / Hand Made Poetry & Book Arts Festival] Philalalia, and I have a table there, and it’s a big deal to Empty Set. I thought it was weird that I got business cards with my name on them. It was weird writing my first rejection letter for an unsolicited manuscript. I’m not at a point where I’m accepting unsolicited manuscripts, but I still read them, because who knows, somebody might blow me away.

The weirdest thing is that I didn’t realize I would like it this much. The press is another creative outlet. Like, the creativity shouldn’t end with the poems. The chapbook itself is art. The branding is art. The readings, the event is art. Just all of it.

What are the ideas for the future, under Empty Set?

There’s gonna be a heavier tie-in with [the nihilist reading series I host,] Oxford Coma. There’s a million writers in Philly. I want to know who’s up-and-coming, who’s new - I want new stuff. The ideal situation with Oxford Coma is that you have these established writers, and then get somebody new in there, who kind of vets for what Empty Set publishes.

I just want other people to be as excited about it as I am. I’m a bleak guy, for the most part. So Oxford Coma and Empty Set, they’re typically dark, but not necessarily just that. There’s gotta be more than just being miserable. You’ve gotta be innovative and willing to try goofy things. Like with Patrick [Blagrave]’s, like, “Here’s thirty poems I wrote to Sallie Mae,” perfect, that’s great. Cynthia Jones’ book is gonna be all poems about trauma with color-coded pages for trigger warnings. Chris McCreary and Mike Lamoureux’s book are all incantations for various demons. Love it. That’s the stuff I wanna publish. My predominant concern is Philadelphia and its immediate surrounding area, and who doesn’t have a platform for their work - people doing experimental stuff. And sticking with the chapbook as art. It’s a part of poetry history. Like, early Ginsberg published as chapbooks through City Lights, and it all started like that. The chapbook is where it’s at. I will publish perfect-bound books at some point, but I like the old school saddle-stitch. But smooth paper, nice cover stock, like - keeping with the tradition, but modernized.

Modernized old school chapbooks of weirdos. . . I’ll work on that mission statement.

Ready to submit to empty set press? Let's get your chap finished.

Interview with Zachary Green

Zachary Zalman Green  currently resides in Minneapolis with no pets to speak of, refers to himself as a "flatlander", and maintains mountains in his head. He is the co-founding editor of Ghost Proposal magazine. Green's work has appeared in interrupture, Whiskey Island, Ilk, Columbia Poetry Review, Jellyfish Magazine, and elsewhere. He was selected as an honorable mention in nonfiction judged by Johnathan Lethem for plain china's national anthology of best undergraduate writing 2011, and a recipient of the 2010 and 2011 Elma Stuckey Poetry Award. He sat down with us to chat about his writing playlist, Ginsberg, Ruefle, and his poetry path.

Can we talk about your poetry path? How did you end up here? Where else did you think you were going to go? What does here even look like?

Poetry, and I guess a lot of where I am now, almost always has felt accidental. In high school I considered myself a wannabe journalist and when the beat of cafeteria politics dried up I started a zine with a friend. At the time we thought we were the only ones who needed to contribute. It was called Ink Stains & Coffee Flowers. To this day I love how juvenile the whole operation was, from the title to its production. My friend Leah and I would throw together an issue, splash some ink on it as if we were Ralph Steadman disciples, and then make copies at her dad's law office late at night. So this was kind of my first attempt at writing for an audience and having the hubris to think I had content worth sharing.

That very same friend told me about Columbia College Chicago. At the time it had the only undergraduate program where you could study poetry, specifically. However, yet again, when I went to visit, I thought that I was going to study fiction, my "poetry" hadn't taken shape yet. Having a negative reaction to that department all together I enrolled in the poetry program, maybe largely because one of the first faculty I met there was a Red Sox fan which appealed to my father and a Ginsberg scholar which appealed to me. 

However, in my senior year of college I was having doubts. I had some teachers telling me to pursue grad school which then was a conventional way of saying go spend more money so you can publish a book and get teaching gigs (and probably still is). I thought I was going to quit it all together and become a cheese farmer or an architect, I had at least told my friends as much. Then I moved back to NH, and did neither of those things. I got a job at an art gallery, I started a magazine, I left the magazine, and quite frankly, around 2013/2014 started to see my way out of poetry. 

Here to me now looks a lot like letting each day unfold, but truly in that way. I don't have much control over it anymore and I am not too concerned about that. In my early-twenties I was horribly fucking stubborn about goals and needing to be settled into a comfortable life. Now I freelance in the film industry and work in the strangest of places from week to week, day to day. So if here is a thing, it is being and trying to identify that presence of mind when it happens, then maybe writing a thing or two from there.  

What about inspiration? What were you reading/seeing/thinking about when you wrote The Number You Are Trying to Reach? What was the publication process for that like?

The thing with being inspired is that we often think it has to railroad us into the ground, or that we have to travel and blow any kind of savings on doing so (which I have done too many times now). TNYATTR was more subtle than that and the thing about the book is that it's not poetry, poetic maybe, but not poetry. 

I had just moved back east from Seattle and considered the whole thing a total failure. Before I left I had going away parties, I packed up everything, gave away my drum kit, wasn't coming back to New Hampshire. And then of course, I just...did, I came back with my tail between my legs. And I took the long way back, nearly losing my mind in Kansas and my 2006 Honda CR-V breaking down on Staten Island, with some sort of bizarre breakup happening on top of all of that. I quickly accelerated to bottom and at 25 you feel entitled to nothing but many victories, great brunches. 

So anyway, I was feeling nostalgic one afternoon, and had my desk set up in my sister's old bedroom at my parents house. I charged up my old cell phone and was thinking of a few people and began listening to their voicemails, which for whatever reason I never deleted. For the longest time I had no way to communicate what happened in Seattle and didn't really want to get into what that realization of actually being poor and entirely on your own feels like, when you are just sort of cut off and horribly depressed; it's very human and maybe even common so I knew I had to get at it from a different way. However, it was still too close to exchange words with. I thought that I would let those people tell the story, it seemed fitting, everyone checked in and often, as if they knew I was miserable without me ever needing to say so, and sometimes I did. The book carries on that way, it's everyone who meant something to me then weighing in or shaping my life, or taking away from it. There's a whole narrative just in the omission of myself from the book. 

At the time I think I was reading Mary Ruefle's Madness Rack and Honey. They are essays that are entirely about being a poet without being a poet. And I love that. To this day it's still kind of a gross word to me, I mean I use it a lot because it is convenient and among writers they know what you are talking about, and among lay people they either want to kiss you or ridicule you up into that tree you were daydreaming under (because that is all we do, right?). I was falling in love with creative nonfiction at the time as well and the possibilities there, to be completely confessional while also tailoring your manner of writing into being more palatial.

It took me until about August 2016 to finally complete the manuscript. I had thought of having a friend put it out who lives in Seattle but had also wanted to see if it had any legs at a press outside of people I knew. I initially submitted it to a small press in Portland, OR who had put out a book by my editor, Delphine Bedient (Down and Out on a Yacht). I was absolutely in love with Delphine's work and the care with which it was printed, a simple letterpress dust jacket and hundreds of vignettes of simple and tragic happenings. The press ended up passing on my manuscript but cleverly sent it along to Delphine and she wrote back saying it was perfect for her imprint, Quotidian Press. I have had work picked up by journals here and there but never had any luck with my poetry manuscript coming out of undergrad so it was really refreshing at how nearly effortless it seemed, or rather that I had finally found the right place with the right project. In any case, we spent a lot longer editing the manuscript than I thought would be possible, especially since they were verbatim voicemail transcriptions. Delphine is absolutely meticulous and did a beautiful job taking this book to the next level.

You co-founded Ghost Proposal. Can you talk a bit about that? 

Out of poetry college I knew two things: you must start a journal and host a reading series to maintain relevancy in that world. Of course I am being facetious, but I really thought that is what it took and then eventually that initiative would get me a job in publishing on a larger scale or that I could put out books and make a living that way. One, it's not nearly as inventive or easy as it seems (thanks Donald Trump, being a poet was harder than I thought), and two, you'll try anything to make a return on going blindingly into debt for studying poetry as an undergrad and eventually find you have to think about your future in broader terms, maybe.

Careerism aside, I had met Naomi, my co-editor who is now Editor-in-Chief of Ghost Proposal, via some letters of mine that she was editing for another journal, plain china, an anthology of undergraduate writing. She was an absolutely astounding editor to work with and I needed to meet her. So we got some pizza in Bennington, VT and talked about having a journal together (sounds kind of like having a baby), and then hung out in her bucolic red house in a mountain valley, and talked more about it. Then a few months later, when I was living in Northampton, MA I was biking alongside a river through some reeds and the title came to me, so I texted her 'ghost proposal.' We put out three issues together, I loved doing it and being the new kids on the block, so-to-speak, who were somehow able to entice nationally recognized writers to contribute just because we asked. However, it was my first time really running a journal and developing a staff and doing so collaboratively. I fucked a few things up and a few things that were beyond my control lead me to eventually leaving the magazine. Naomi is still running it to this day and doing a fantastic job (also, they have a chapbook contest going on right now and you all should submit to it)!

If you had to make a writing playlist, what 10 songs would be on there.

"The Glow Pt. 2" - The Microphones
"Haunt" - Pile
"C.L. Rosarian" - Mutual Benefit
"Crown" - Run The Jewels
"My Old Friend" - Sam Amidon
"White Fire" - Angel Olsen
"Sitting Around Waiting To Die" - Townes Van Zandt
" 'Ol 55" - Tom Waits
"Girl From The North Country" - Bob Dylan
"High Rise" - Cross Record

I could do this all day. I used think that scoring a film meant you just picked out the music for the soundtrack and I wanted to have that job. Still do. 

Would you rather every piece of art you see be a May Ray piece or have every song you hear be a Frank Ocean song? I’m not giving you a lot of options here, but this will help us understand you a bit better.

I think a Frank Ocean song. Music does something to me that 2D or 3D work can't touch. Also I always remember the lyrics as "Got a fresh pair of Nikes" and it's a nice thought because I always wonder how people who really invest in their Nike game keep them so damn clean! I can't do it. 

What’s your opinion on the “state of poetry”?

I think the moment we put something into a "state", we isolate it. Like the state of Israel, for example, who doesn't feel beholden to identify Palestine as a state, to be political for a moment. I use this example because it is extreme and I think it can be extreme to classify in such ways. I think the state of poetry is that it lives in a world unto itself and that is dangerous, that is why few people outside of those who write it, read it, and largely why I ran away from the writing world for a while. It's probably why I also come off as cynical about it. I think poetry is and more often than not, benefits from being a state of being or living. If we live our lives poetically, we write better (ideally) and are still present and involved in the world. I am still wary about writing in our current climate if what I am saying is not directly/indirectly to the end of freeing us in some way. I still haven't figured that out exactly but I am trying to make it more of a conscious effort.

If anything though, I am learning now that I can't be caught up in the 'why' or 'what' is going to happen to poetry but that we must continue to write or create in some capacity because it is really our last weapon of change for those charged with having such an outlet or talent, if you will. 

What are you reading right now? What did you start reading but stopped 10 minutes later and haven’t started again?

Right now I am reading a few things,10th of December by George Saunders which is totally surprising and fresh and moving to me and Jane Wong's Overpour, which is fucking flawless. I started reading Farenheit 451 because I am so embarrassed about how few classic novels I have read but put it down because it wasn't too long after the election and it was just too much. 

If there is any book you could have written but didn’t, what would it be?

I would have loved to have written Actual Air by David Berman. It's pitch-perfect in my mind and the dude just went away after writing it. I wish we all had the wisdom to sometimes just stop and find the new or next thing.  

And, finally, what’s a day-in-the-life like for Zachary?

If I am not working on a film set (which is my current occupation), I am usually seeking out the best bowl of ramen in Minneapolis, riding my bike to a lake, pitching my hammock with some kinda new beverage I am trying out that week, a book, a fruit thing and staying put until the sun falls out of the sky. So yeah, sleeping under trees, okay. But until I do that, I am likely in bed for a while, thinking that I need to be writing more.

Ryan Bollenbach's In the House on the Cusp of Light

Ryan Bollenbach - In the House on the Cusp of Light

Tell Tell Poetry: This book is amazing. Can you talk about the process of writing it and finding a publisher? What was working with H_NGM_N like?

Ryan Bollenbach: First off, thanks so much Kallie! I really appreciate the kind words and for asking me to do this. As for the process, well, I had a long-running obsession with writing letters. At a time, this was part of an 85 pg manuscript that was nothing but letters. Letters to inanimate objects, abstract concepts, singer-songwriters etc.

This poem started as multiple smaller letters addressed to the season “Summer” that weren’t attached to each other. Many of the other kinds of letters were fairly heady and abstract. Because I wrote this in summer, in Alabama, which is so damn hot and visceral, I felt like it’d make sense for the summer letters to be a bit more direct. Because summer is also extremely bright and gets into everything in Alabama (and I have blue eyes, really susceptible to light), I felt compelled to draw attention to the amplification that artifice, repetition and the reuse of metaphor, was doing to its subjects in the early poems. At a point, I decided to embrace the oversaturation (like an overexposed photo) as a source of energy, contemplation, and complication, rather than something I would try to minimize or edit out of the poem.

Once I decided to move toward the artifice and find its limits, I realized the poems I was writing to “Summer” made more sense together, and I took what work I had already done and turned over what was going on in those poems as many times as I could. It was a quick, and reactive process. It felt a little viral at the time.

As for working with h_ngm_n: it was great. They allowed me to provide my own cover art (done by my friend Katy Rossing). The layout was mostly done when I sent it to them. They responded quickly to the small revisions I suggested. I sent it to h_ngm_n in part because of the awesome chaps they've done in the past (Carrie Lorig, Nick Sturm, and Wendy Xu come to mind), but also because I think an online hub to download free chapbooks is the ideal place for the form. 

The book incorporates a lot of art and artists into the poems. What were you looking at and thinking about as you were writing?

A lot was swirling around in my head at the time. This is what I remember: Sutures (a consistently torqued idea in Eric Baus’s “The To Sound”; Photography as a medium (my mother is a wonderful nature photographer so that whole way of perceiving, as a process and product, is really important to this poem); The human eye (hence the Dali); A ( possible mis)reading of Joyelle McSweeney’s Necropastoral idea of the collapse of past, present, and future; the relationship between artifice and non-fiction (specifically from Brian Oliu’s “So You Know It’s Me” and Heidi Lynn Staples’ “Take Care Fake Bear Torque Cake”); and the way narrative moved in Colin Winnette’s amazing chapbook “Loudermilk” which we published in issue 42.1 of Black Warrior Review, the first issue that I was poetry editor for. I think I write best from a constellation of ideas.

My favorite line from the book is “his cancer is suburbing, one of many / houses inside my body inside your body.” Does the “your” shift throughout the collection, or is it the same body?

My hope is that the body, and the address “you” is always morphing and being repositioned in productive ways that create new contexts. Especially with the 2nd person, I try to use the implications of the “you” as “Summer” (the straight reading) and that confessional tool of the veiled “I.” 

 The body morphs in this collection, the moths come to and retreat from the light, the cancer spreads and doesn’t spread. Everything is brewing in this book, and it seems to blend memory and myth. What is it like to write from a memory? What does it feel like?

I’ve always had a lot of trepidation about writing straight non-fiction. Partially because my memory for details is not great, partially because (and more importantly for me), I haven’t figured out how to write directly about someone in a way that feels more productive than, say, having a conversation with someone about a particular subject (which is not to say I don’t love a good long talk about big subjects; I certainly do).

The mythologization of memory that happens in this book, I think, is my attempt to make something new (quite removed from the “real”) and generative from my own thinking and memories: an alternative space to try configurations out. In the case of this poem, the impetus is thinking through my childhood and my relationship with my mother, both from my childhood perspective and from my current perspective looking back.    

Damn: “i heard he looked a lot like a rat. / i heard he looked a lot like me.” This collection is stunning. This isn’t a question, just a statement. Can we please talk about your author photo and how awesome it is? Who took it and where were you?

This photo was taken by my longtime homie Laura Cooper. We went to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida while I was down in Florida for winter break. It was 82 degrees (In December, no lie), hence the t-shirt. There was this curtain of feathery-looking lights I found, and, well, sometimes I like to be draped.

Can you please send us a playlist to listen to while we read your manuscript?

Oh man, I always think about poems with music, but, for some reason, not this one. Try printing the poem out and reading it while sitting in the middle of an asphalt parking lot on the hottest day of summer. I’d bet you can almost hear the heat.

Read Ryan's book from H_NGM_N here. 

Interview with Tone Škrjanec

Book cover image from Tavern Books.

Book cover image from Tavern Books.

When we read Skin, we couldn't put it down. We were sad. We were frightened. Skin made us feel less alone. We are super excited that Tone took some time to chat with us about his collection, out in 2014 from Tavern Books. If you haven't grabbed a copy yet, we think you're gonna need it.

Tone Škrjanec, the noted poet and translator, was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1953, and is widely regarded as belonging to the literary vanguard of his generation. He graduated in Sociology from the University of Ljubljana, had a short career teaching, and worked as a journalist for ten years. Since 1990, he has been a program coordinator at the Cultural Centre KUD France Prešeren in Ljubljana. (Bio from Tavern Books.)

Tell Tell Poetry: "The smell of the skin" starts with the idea of touch, and yet, in the beginning, the "I" isn't capitalized until the poem "Prague early in the afternoon." The poems then go back and forth between the lowercase "I" and the capitalized I. Was this the way the poems were written, or did this come after?

Tone: In the original Slovene book everything was written and printed and no letters were capitalized, even the names (of the persons, cities, rivers...). But you must know that in Slovene "I" (that is "jaz") is normally not capitalized and in English it normally is. And that is why and how some capitalizes “I's” entered the book. In any way it is not very important and has no special meaning, but if anyone finds something in it even better.

The speaker transitions between states and places: from the lake to the forest to the house, and yet remains tethered to a psychical space by observing the natural world. Did any objects or observations surprised you as you wrote the collection?

Oh, yes, a good surprise makes a good poem. And though it looks all the same everything is permanently changing. Yesterday there was nothing and today if I look through the window there is snow on the roofs.

 Everything in this collection is shifting: "something black like a bird," "everything's crooked," "everything depends on clouds," "everything very faint." What do we miss when we look at everything at once? What do we find when we focus on the fly, the leaf, and the orange oranges? In other words, do you believe we must have both?

 Very simple, when we focus on the fly, the leaf, the orange oranges we see the fly or the leaf or the oranges, and if we look at everything at once we see all the stuff all mixed together and in relation. And there is the difference. And off course we have it both and in the same time.

 The sense of time is haunting in this collection. The idea of yesterday, of waiting for something, of having everything change and manipulate and interact with the body. How did these poems come together for the book and which was the newest poem written?

Time is such a tricky and relative phenomena, so very very little happens just »now«, for now being so short and the past and the future so vast. The book was written between 2003-2006 with no special plan but at in the end fitted to the title. In anyway the title came later, the poems made the title and the book.  

 What were you seeing, looking at, and thinking about when writing this?

I think that it is all written in the book.

 I agree with your sentiment: "everything very weird," and yet it is through that almost lonely observation that peace comes. Do you feel a certain sense of peace or unsettling when you write?

 When I write I feel the mixture of both. It's a special kind of restless or like being high peace.

 You often translate work yourself. What was it like working with a translator on this collection? Do you feel that the original feelings or ideas were properly preserved in translation?

 I never translate my work myself. I like to translate from English to Slovene, but not into English, I don't feel good enough. It was a nice experience to work with the translators of the book, we were all the time in contact and I know that my poems were properly translated. As well as I know that in translation you always loose some but also win some.

 The poems in this collection often echo like the best haiku do. What words from your collection echo through you most often, if any?


 The last few lines of the poem "Dust":

  ...we always have our naked body
which glitters like a star.

always beautiful as a star.
and i don't want to go home.

One of my favorite lines is from the poem "Prague early in the afternoon," where you write, "met a lip which reminded me / of a train in the afternoon." What is your favorite line from the collection?

 I don't know, can't say, there is so much lines. And thank you for your favorite line.

I loved seeing through the speaker in this collection. What books and speakers do you return to in order to better see?

 Issa, Basho, Jure Detela (slovenian poet, 1951-1992)...

What is today like for Tone?

It's cold, some snow and gray, not nice. Just like the world and the entire situation in the world. It looks we are hurrying nowhere.      

 What are you currently working on, listening to, seeing, and touching?

 I am working on a new book of poems that must be finished quite soon. The title of the book will be Breathe (I believe) and will be published in Ljubljana in this autumn. I am listening to Goat, Captain Beefheart, John Coltrane, Brigitte Fontaine and a lot of others, seeing mostly what I can see through the window (gray), and touching – hm, there is always a lot of things to touch. And waiting for the spring (sorry but today is the coldest day in this season).


Tone was translated by Matthew Rohrer and Ana Pepelnik