What’s your favorite song to dance to?
Wynonie Harris – Quiet Whiskey
Describe your personal hell.
Populated by undecided voters only; ketchup is the only condiment; only thing to drink is milk; all heat, no shade; lots of paper and no pens; only sound is piped-in conversation from exhibition openings across the world
What’s something that always makes you laugh?
Being tickled on my side; memories of good people and the funny decisions they made
You’re sucked into a bad movie and you have to choose a point in history to live out the rest of your years. What time do you choose and why?
I’m no Stephen King, but the idealist in me would like to go back and change the history of one of the world’s most violent and disastrous series of events – the problem is that there are too many to choose from, and most of the egregious singular events are simply moments within bigger patterns of rewarding the exploitation and oppression of other people. Picking one, how about going back to the 13th Century and attempting to reverse the outcome of the Crusades. Maybe that would have made things better? I don’t know, but it’s hard to think things could have gone worse. Preventing Reagan and Thatcher from being born sounds delightful as well. The hell of corporate oppression that the entire world is suffering from seems to stem from a lot of their happiness to enjoin corporate interests with government collusion.
But for a personally indulgent answer, I’d go back to 1952 purely for the possibility of living through the next decade+ of live jazz. What happened between 1952-1968 is just wild. But I would do anything to hear Ellington, Parker, Dolphy, Mingus, Desmond, Coltrane, etc.
What’s a gif that you can relate to?
I’m not a gif guy but I just googled “relative gifs” and the first thing I saw was the Simpsons sitting on a couch and it reminded me of Homer lifting his fifth beer and leaving a stain of beer-can rings in the shape of the Olympics symbol. That’s my kind of imagination.
You’re hit by lightning. What happens?
I have a poem about a field of “lightninged ice” – a place where lightning strikes into an ice field and each strike pulls its exact shape back up out of the ice and it remains frozen, a forest of reverse-lightninged ice. I imagine something similar internally: I would keep the lightning inside me and occasionally cough little static charges.
It’s snowing outside, how do you feel?
Fantastic. When the weather is bad and you don’t have demands, you are free to do as you please: play in it, watch it, feel snuggled by the fact that you aren’t in it. Possibilities are so wonderfully deep. (Plus I grew up in South Carolina and only got the chance to play in the snow once for real as a kid. Luckily I was about 12 I think so I could really enjoy it.
I don’t feel this way by the sun: heat makes a lot of the things I want to do outside impossible. And yet it somehow diminishes the pleasantness of being inside as well.
What’s a cat picture you can get behind?
I can’t answer this without thinking of a novel my friend Dwight is writing, one of the theses of which is that the internet exists only to spread images of cats because: the more cats, the more toxoplasmosis, endlessly. The book is outrageous because it is so real and so thoroughly researched and so superficially outrageous. Whenever I see an image of a cat on a shirt in a store window, I can only think of his book and the thesis that he elaborately justifies, and which is just one of the many theses regarding contemporary consciousness and culture in the book.
Where did you write most of your book? Why?
All of it in my office. I needed to have papers everywhere because I had a lot of documents to sort through – medical reports, legal stuff, my files I was keeping during the time the book narrates, etc. Plus I could sleep there (don’t tell the landlord!) and get up and go right back to it. I’ve got a small fridge, an electric kettle, and a loveseat in there – plus all my books – so it’s a very cozy place for me.
What are your struggles and strengths as a writer?
My strength is that I’m good at recognizing how to communicate in a way that others will understand and be entertained by; my struggle is that what I want to communicate isn’t often what people are interested in thinking about. I like wildness – wild imagery, wild uses of sounds, wild ideas. And what’s wild to me is sometimes extra-wild to a civilian.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What works, what doesn’t, what doesn’t but you still try anyway?
I write down little thoughts and reactions all the time – I fill dozens of notebooks every year. I have a writing pad next to my bed, another one next to the one chair in my apartment, another in my car, and a notebook in my bag at all times. I fill a page and I tear it off and type it up (or research whatever I jotted down to learn more about.) Because I have multiple things I’m working on at all times, each little note goes into its place: fodder for my Horizon Poems series; descriptions of “projects;” bollard stuff of course; new poems/ raw lines; songs; rants; additions to working poems; etc.
The real work comes when I get invited to do a reading. I will start looking at all the current poems I’ve been working on. I’ll open em all up as well as my file of raw lines and see what I like from the raw stuff that I can coax and coagulate into relevance to the issues being investigated in whatever current poem I’m trying to finish. Usually, I’ll have to read a poem in front of an audience before I figure out how to complete it. A lot of poems that I’ve been reading for a decade or more only exist on paper because of all the notes of how I’ve changed it over the years.
That account describes my general everyday writing. But it’s different once I focus in on bigger, more specific projects. For example, I just completed writing a poem for every episode of Gilmore Girls. I developed a strategy looking at each episode and taking notes of certain features of each episode, and then formulated each poem based on the text I collected. But every big project requires a different set of habits. I’m currently working on a graphic novel using only images from all the airline safety cards I’ve stolen over the last 20+ years in combination with images from exercise LP instruction booklets (while each set of instructions is quite similar from plane to plane and from exercise routine to exercise routine, the way the actions are depicted varies extraordinarily.) I need to scan all these things and then I will start talking about my mom and how her favorite fruit used to be strawberries, and how I value insight and imagination over storytelling and then move on from there…
ANDREW CHOATE is a writer who was born and raised in South Carolina. He is the author of Langquage Makes Plastic of the Body (Palm Press), Stingray Clapping (Insert Blanc Press), and Too Many Times I See Every Thing Just the Way It Is (Poetics Research Bureau.) I Love You More, a collection of his texts for performance, is forthcoming from Insert Blanc. His writings on music and art have been published in The Wire, Signal to Noise, The Attic, Coda, Art Ltd., d’Art International, and Facsimile.
As @saintbollard he photographs and organizes performances around bollards. He won the award for Best Visual/ Performance Art, as well as the Warwick Broadhead Memorial Award at the 2016 Dunedin Fringe Festival in New Zealand. His visual work has been exhibited at the Yerevan Center for Contemporary Art, the Torrance Art Museum, Barnsdall Art Park, The University of Western Australia, Mullany High, the Giradeau Chapel, High Energy Constructs, Overca$h Gallery and, most recently, General Projects, where he had his first solo show, Demon Purse, in 2018. Corroballorations, a duo show with Joe Williamson at PS Kaufman in 2018, elicited sparks of approval.