Tuesday, June 13, 2017

12 or 20 questions with Judson Hamilton

Judson Hamilton lives in Wrocław, Poland. He’s published a couple of chapbooks with Greying Ghost Press, a novella with Black Scat Books and most recently a short story collection called Gross in Feather, Loud in Voice. He’s a contributor at Queen Mob’s Teahouse. Twitter: @judson_hamilton

1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
The first book I published was a chapbook called Celebrity Slumbers it didn’t change my day to day life but it showed me that publication was possible. My most recent work is a book of short stories and my first was a book of prose poems so in that respect that aren’t much alike but I like to think I’m a better writer now.

2 - How did you come to poetry first, as opposed to, say, fiction or non-fiction?
I kind of came to both at the same time actually. I’ve no idea how though.

3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
There is a lengthy amount of time where I’m just living with it and then it all starts to come together pretty quickly from there.

4 - Where does a poem or work of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
Everything starts with a tone or an image, a voice or a line and expands from there. I’ll just start writing things down, collecting fragments or scenes and see where it goes making notes along the way until something coalesces.

5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
I have only done one reading in my life and that was not long ago in Berlin. It was fun but it isn’t a big part of my process.

6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
If I have theoretical concerns I’m unaware of them.

7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
I’ve seen this question a lot and frankly it has always puzzled me. It seems to me that the writer has no role in society per se. A writer should write and that’s all. Some write to entertain, some to tackle the big questions, and some for political reasons but it all boils down to the same thing in the end and I’m loath to reduce it to one role.

8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
I’ve only worked with an outside editor a few times and it has always gone pretty smoothly (thankfully).

9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
“Onward through the fog!”, which was the slogan for a headshop in Austin, Texas called Oat Willie’s (not sure if it is around anymore). It has always seemed to me to be applicable to just about any situation. Good solid life advice.

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to prose)? What do you see as the appeal?
I have a tendency to meander between them whenever I get bored.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
I have always written on the go so I make a lot of notes on my phone and then dump them into a notebook that I work in whenever my schedule permits. Later that gets dumped onto the computer and the editing phase begins. Texts get combed over until they are done.

12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
I don’t need much inspiration these days – just time. But I suppose if I needed some I’d go for a long walk or to an art museum.

13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Sawdust and Azaleas in heat.

14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
I don’t know what is directly influential these days but I’ve been listening to a lot of beat tapes recently and classical music. I’ve got a large park near my house and that must exert some influence on me as I’ve spent a lot of time there. I love installation art and contemporary abstract art, graffiti etc. Perhaps not science directly but I find robotics and outer space, life in the Anthropocene, and synthetic biology pretty exciting.

15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
I really like the work of Will Self, Claire Donato, Jenny Boully, Nicola Barker, and Tove Jansson. I could go on and on.

16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Write some longer texts. Travel more.

17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I don’t work professionally as a writer but what would I do instead? I have no idea.

18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
It started off as something I enjoyed doing and has become an inseparable part of my life.

19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?

20 - What are you currently working on?
I just finished a poetry manuscript called The New Make Believe and have just started tinkering with some longer prose ideas.

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