Interview with Zeke Hudson

blue lake

Zeke Hudson Zeke Hudson is the author of Blue Lake (Thrush press) and the editor for West Wind Review . Zeke writes in his chapbook (or chapbook length poem), Blue Lake

"there is no reason why i can never remember where to put the return address on a letter

where the heart is, beats /"

If this excites you as much as it does me, you can buy it from Lulu

TellTell: Tell Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Zeke: Oh gosh. I feel like most of the normal “get-to-know-you” information might be a little predictable: I got a BA in English, I like writing, I read a lot, etc.

So about me? Well, I floss. I don't like having my sheets tucked-in. I love a good protein shake. For most of my life I have avoided wearing blue jeans. Blue's not really my color, and denim is a questionable fabric*, so I've sported a good deal of khakis on my finely-sculpted lower bod. However, I picked up a nice pair of dark jeans at the Buffalo Exchange in Berkeley a couple days ago, and I think I'm finally starting to understand what all the hype is about.

*I realize this is a contentious statement.

TellTell: When did you start writing? What was it like? Was there ever an "aha" moment where you felt like a writer?

Zeke: I'm not sure if there was a moment at which I really started writing—I've done it on and off since I learned how. Much of my writing throughout high school and early college were rap lyrics (I used to rap (quite well, actually)) and cummings-inspired poems. It wasn't until a few years ago that I made a conscious decision to pursue writing as a vaguely profession-oriented field, though. As far as an “aha” moment, I don't think I've had one yet. I feel more like a writer now than I did last year, and even more than I did the year before that, so I guess I'm getting there incrementally.

Tell Tell: Can we see a picture of your writing desk?

TellTell: Ah. A bed. I've seen this before! So do you always write on your bed?

Zeke: No. I usually write on my laptop either on my bed or a big chair & ottoman combo. I'd send a picture of those, but I'm about 6 hours from my house right now. Just imagine a very sexy bed and a slightly less sexy chair & ottoman.

TellTell: Sexy bed. Got it!

TellTell: You edit a poetry magazine called the West Wind Review. How did you get involved with that?

Zeke: West Wind Review is Southern Oregon University's literary magazine. I graduated last year, and when I realized I'd be in Ashland for another year, I talked with K. Silem Mohammad (the faculty editor) about editing the journal. We've published some of my favorite authors and some incredible work, and it gets better year by year. It really was an honor and a pleasure. Also, although West Wind Review prints a large amount of poetry, we print fiction as well. But  because we tend towards the avant-garde, a lot of the fiction we print might look like poetry. Kinda.

TellTell: Do you notice a trend with younger writers? Is there anything that multiple people are writing about?

Zeke: I'm seeing a lot of this New Sincerity stuff. I get it. Like, in general, I think irony has outlived its use as a subversive tool in the avant-garde, so the NS seems like a reasonable evolution of the postmodern.

TellTell (according to Wikipedia: "New sincerity is a movement a contrast to the cold, irony-laden poetry dominating the journals and magazines and new books of poetry.")

Zeke: Also, NS writers tend to write about themselves. It's a beautifully narcissistic exploration of the mundane and the everyday. It's all “I ate eggs for breakfast and it made me have feelings” or whatever, or “I remember getting drunk with my friends and oh! The nostalgia!” That sort of thing.It might sound like I'm a big hater, and in some ways I am (because some of it is unforgivably pedestrian), but I like the influx of emotion to a field* that is usually defined by understatement; the New Sincerity allows for a certain focus on the relationship between humans and civilization, and for a much-needed catharsis... it provides an artistic outlet for a group of young people who are inheriting an increasingly impersonal world, an economic crisis, and the realization that they might never distinguish themselves. People can relate to that.

*Writing

TellTell: Okay, what was the worst line of poetry you have ever read? Or worst poem? Or worst poet?

Zeke: Having read submissions for a literary magazine, I've seen a lot of pretty terrible writing. I'm not comfortable calling out established authors for terrible writing. Some lauded poets have produced a stupefying amount of boring, hackneyed, or uninspired writing that revolves around platitudinous epiphanic reveals that lack any semblance of intellectual complexity, but a lot of people love that shit. Oh! Or, okay. You know how at readings, some people read in “poet voice”? Well, some people write that way.

TellTell: Oh god..."poet voice..." On a happier note, where do you get your inspiration? Are there specific places you need to go to write, or are you like J.K Rowling? Writing on napkins and stuff?

Zeke: I do my best writing when I have nothing in particular to say. Or if I have a deadline of some sort. Otherwise, it's whatever. Recurring themes include physics, astronomy, nostalgia, and semiotics. I usually use my cheap-o laptop, but I also have a few journals, and I just bought a Smith Corona Classic typewriter.

TellTell: Any embarrassing poetry moments? Bad readings? Accidentally sent a mean poem to an ex?

Zeke: I got far, far too drunk at AWP and spent the night throwing up in my hotel. I could barely stand the next day. And I had a big zit on my forehead. That counts, right?

TellTell: Oh yeah. I'd say that not only counts but it sounds like fun! What poets or books of poetry influence you?

Zeke: Oh gosh. Keats? I'm a rabid fan of the Modernists, like Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot. Louis Zukofsky and Lorine Niedecker deserve mentions. Jack Spicer. Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, Joe Brainard. Alice Notley. I admire the Language poets, like Ron Silliman, Rae Armantrout, and Lyn Hejinian.

For current stuff, I love what Steve Roggenbuck is doing for the scene, and my friends Sarah Cunningham and Amber Nelson have been producing work that makes me need to write. I'm also a member of a couple online writing groups, and the people in there keep me on my toes.

TellTell: Let's talk about your chapbook! How did you come up with the name for the chapbook?

Zeke: Blue Lake is a very small town about 5 miles inland from Arcata, California. Most of the images in the poem are directly inspired by the ~4 hour drive from Ashland (Oregon) to Blue Lake.

TellTell: How did you get the idea for your book?

Zeke: I decided to write a Valentine's day poem for my girlfriend. It originally fit on one page, but I didn't get to see her on Valentine's day, so I filled it out a bit. By the time I presented it to her, it was... long.

TellTell: How long did it take you to get it published?

Zeke: After I put together the manuscript, I sent it to Thrush Press (Thrush Poetry Journal's press). They quickly established themselves with a dedication that most new journals don't have, and their commitment to poetry, quality, and their artists is amazing, so I wanted to work with them.

They accepted the manuscript within a few days, and it took less than two months from acceptance to copy-in-hand.

TellTell: Wow! That's fast.  What was it like when you got your first copy of the book?

Zeke: Man. It really could have gone either way. I think form and presentation are important in poetry, and there are definitely more wrong ways to present Blue Lake than there are right. The editors at Thrush Press totally nailed it, though. I can't imagine the chap looking any different. It's perfect.

So, I was happy.

TellTell: What do you hope for in your writing? Is there something that you are trying to get across in every poem? Or, in other words: why do you write?

Zeke: I'm just looking for people to understand me.

It's harder with poetry than with my fiction, especially because my poetry is informed largely by the avant-garde. Thus, people who don't often read poetry don't “understand” it, and people who prefer more conservative lyric narrative poetry might not appreciate the way I write. But all it requires is a capacity for emotion and a little intuitive leap.

I'm searching for a more intense method of communication. I want to make people feel what I'm feeling. In that sense, I think I write moods as much as I write things.