Winter 2013-2014 Issue.
I imagine Liz might say something along these lines, but I absolutely love reading the submissions for this magazine. There are so many great writers out there. And so many great writers who submit to us especially.
I have a particular interest in poetry, since that’s what I study, and every once in awhile I read a poet’s submission that I just have to share with anyone who will listen. For this issue, I’m happy to present up-and-coming poet Andrew Hofmann to the literary world.
See my interview — conducted via email — with Andrew:
(Get to know him, he’s a really cool guy!)
Which poets inspire you the most? What is your favorite book overall?
I draw a lot of inspiration and appreciation from the modernists such as e. e. cummings, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, et al. Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Merril are another group of temporally linked poets that I like, and John Donne is a pretty cool guy, too. I wish I could name some more recent people but the fact of the matter is that poetry today (in my personal experience) feels stranded in time, largely because nobody seems to talk about interesting poets / poetry happening from the last ten to twenty years. Poetry is a really very misunderstood art-form, in my opinion. I also rub shoulders with poets from the ‘Alt Lit’ community, but I wouldn’t really say I’m associated with them.
The nebulous question of favorites is tricky, but I do have several prosaic influences: Raymond Carver, Flannery O’Connor, Porpentine, David Foster Wallace, and Vladimir Nabokov.
If you had to describe your writing style in one word, what would that word be?
In purple 72 pt. comic-sans font, bolded, italicized, and underlined, highlighted in a beautiful shade of aquamarine that tantalizes the eyes / haunts you in your dreams, printed out on the highest-quality artisanal paper imported from [country], bedazzled with actual diamonds: awful. Printed on the reverse side is a .jpg image (read: sneaky not-violation of the word count) of a really very sincere love letter to somebody who is now dead.
When it comes to writing, what are your bad habits? (chewing on pens, never editing, starting too many projects at once, etc.)
How do you combat these bad habits, if you have any?
I have a bad habit of occasionally executing low-effort conceptual nonsense as a form of writing or art. To ‘combat’ this bad habit, I occasionally don my ‘power armor, karate black belt, and magic wizard robes’ and ‘fight off the hordes of relentless ironic obscurity’ and / or ‘go on a quest to discover the lost treasure of technical excellence in writing.’ Writing (poetry), for me, is a certain kind of emotionally desperate way of playing around with communication, a game of chess at gunpoint. Sometimes I have to remember that I’m at gunpoint, and sometimes I have to remember I’m playing a game of chess and I might as well enjoy myself.
What does your writing space look like right this second?
I am at a desk in a dorm room. To the immediate right of my laptop is a toothbrush and an empty box of Q-tips. Said cotton swabs (all used, having superfluously disposed of wax from the external auditory canal) are dispersed throughout the room because I still haven’t learned proper self-care. To my left is the accompanying toothpaste and a stack of objects, listed in top-down order: an iPhone 4 (with accompanying purple case, slightly damaged), a ResponseCard® XR ‘clicker’ (for usage in large STEM lecture courses wherein the teacher functionally never learns your name), a red wallet, and the following books, again in descending order: Pale Fire, by Vladimir Nabokov; Pyramids & Nightclubs: A Travel Ethnography of Arab and Western Imaginations of Egypt, from King Tut and a Colony of Atlantis to Rumors of Sex Orgies, Urban Legends about a Marauding Prince, and Blond Belly Dancers, by L. L. Wynn; A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, by David Foster Wallace; and The Oxford Book of American Poetry (the 2006 David Lehman Edition), Edited by David Lehman. Behind my computer, impractically, is a printer, so positioned that whenever I want to print anything out I have to balance the PC on my lap or a stack of books, etc., and some copy paper. Above that are two shelves of numerous other books / toiletries. My computer is electrified and I am poking at one kind abstraction to create another.
Outside of literature and books, where do you find inspiration?
I possess a vested interest in the realm of theology: Judeo-Christian, Neo-Pagan, Cults, &c, along with the whole pseudoscience-y out-there aesthetic thing going along with it. Additionally, having been subsumed 24/7 into the pop-cultural global media matrix ever since my slimy arrival on this planet means that that’s a thing I have to address / think about when I write. The cool thing about the internet is that you can find all this weird, extremely human detritus amid the other detritus.
I’m really big into the music of Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Colin Stetson, Sun Ra, et al. I ‘jam’ to their musical compositions in order to ‘pump up’ my psychic state and to ‘elevate my consciousness’ as to write at a more proficient level.
Additionally, when I write, I try to mix autobiography with something like magic realism / preposterous nonsense (from a variety of sources) and/or an inherent playfulness with construction or language.
Which piece of your own writing is your favorite and why?
I try not to qualify my writing as some kind of hierarchy of “pieces Andrew Hofmann likes” because to think otherwise would probably actually be pretty psychically damaging to me as a writer. I’d become so obsessed with “is this better than x” that I’d never write anything again. Further, I’ve deluded myself into believing that the quality of the things I create continues in a linear progression (that is to say, each subsequent piece of writing is better than everything that came before it). Completing a piece of writing is also a bit of high and I’m almost certainly irrevocably addicted. That means, as of now, my current “favorite” poem is titled CALAMARI DAMASHII SEASON TWO FINALE, a pastiche of certain “tropes” in certain “Japanese-Animation” TV shows but also a pretty serious examination of unrequited love and the transformative power of mass media.
What made you decide to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a person who ‘makes art’ for as long as I can remember and a writer specifically since I learned how to read. Being a little kid who really couldn’t even begin to externalize emotions like “the frantic desire to communicate with and be understood by other human beings”, I generally understood my aspirations as a writer for a great percentage of my life as a “desire to be famous and successful.” This equated to a long prepubescent history of trying to write “commercial fiction” and entirely missing the mark with weird, shitty attempts at starting the next bestselling novel that I’d abandon a month later. I didn’t come into my own as a writer of things until I really started to think about poetry seriously and critically engage with its history. It was a touch revelatory, really—the idiosyncrasies of my brain seemed to interlock with this entire system of writing and communication that had been cut off from me up until that point, and the gears started to turn. I could start to articulate things that had previously remained inarticulate. I could craft the gist of my existence into a kind of sanctified place. I became real to myself. I ‘chose’ to be a ‘writer’ because anything else is self-negation.
What is your favorite quote?
I’m not much of an epigrammatic connoisseur, but here goes:
“The meal begins. The first course is a ‘polyrhythmic salad,’ which consists of a box containing a bowl of undressed lettuce leaves, dates and grapes. The box has a crank on the left side. Without using cutlery, the guests eat with their right hand while turning the crank with their left. This produces music to which the waiters dance until the course is finished.”
—Wikipedia, Futurist meals
Here’s a sneak peak of Andrew’s work:
“*the title of this poem is a spoiler”
(be sure to click on the image ^)