“A Book Is a Different Kind of Riddle Altogether”: Evan Isoline in Conversation with Vi Khi Nao about PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY

PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY is Evan Isoline’s debut full-length book and was published by 11:11 Press on May 18, 2021.

Vi Khi Nao: I really love your name, Evan Isoline. It reminds me of a waterbottle company from Greenland or something. Though probably a country that fits your book more would be blueland, to match your intoxicating love for the sky. The contents of your collection—their subtitles have exquisite titles such as “CHYMICAL WEDDING,” “THE BLOOD HYPHEN,” “BLADES OF NOON,” “CUBICULUM/SHARK ATTACK”—all reflective of the empyrean, pelagic range of your imagination—though I am curious how you decide to land on the obvious PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY

Evan Isoline: Thanks so much! I can totally see the connection to the Nalgene bottle, or some sort of plastic, chemical or mathematic term. It’s actually an altered version of the Italian for “small islands” which I always kind of liked. Thank you for the kind words regarding the titles for the 9 parts of the book. The titles of these parts were indeed designed to signify a far-reaching personal relationship with the symbol of the “sky”. Empyrean and pelagic are fantastic words. The title PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY became a working title for me fairly early on. I never had the intention or preconception that the book would have anything to do with philosophy in a traditional or linear sense. In the process I started to enjoy thinking about a kid roaming through a video store in the early 90s and finding a VHS tape on the shelf titled PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY in the cult, horror or adult sections by chance. The juvenile intrigue of what might be on that tape. I didn’t know how I would incorporate the title into the book until much later in the process.

VKN: Is that your pen name, then? I noticed that your work is both performative and cinematic—there are themes of room, sky, desert, mouth, God, mother, sun, monster, mastication—this is to say: repetition appears to be a significant part of your book’s existence: repetition thematically and repetition textually and lexically. If repetition were to be prohibited in your work, what kind of book would you produce? Is it unimaginable? What is the primary engine behind your intense desire for hypnotic ecological recycling of words and themes? The first part of your 9 part collection—you opened it with a hallucinatory voyeuristic piece—can you talk about your process of their arrangement? How did you originally envision chaos within chaos, order within order?  This is your first collection. Are there other books you have written prior to this “first”—sometimes our first isn’t our first.  

EI: No, actually my given name is Evan Isoline. The story I’ve heard is that my Italian Great Grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Northern Italy at age 18 and altered his name due to the discrimination at the time toward Italian immigrants and immigrants in general. It wasn’t until more recently that through results from an ancestry website I found that I may not be related to him by blood at all. In that way my name feels strange, almost not mine, but I kind of enjoy that.

YES. Repetition (particularly the obsessive use of particular symbols throughout these 9 sequences) was a very intrinsic part of the book. In it I use the word Part as opposed to a traditional chapter, more like how films are broken up. I don’t see the final piece as a “collection”, as may be the case with a grouping of short stories or poems, but something like a unified arrangement of fragments or sequences.  This work (like other writing I’ve done) started with a very chaotic coagulation of word-pairings, sentences and textual images. For PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY I kept a massive binder of these (along with Google Docs and Notes on my phone) until they would naturally mutate in a bodily, peristaltic kind of way, forms slowly growing and accreting. In this sense, imagining the book without this kind of obsessive or, as you said beautifully, “hypnotic ecological recycling of words and themes” I can’t quite imagine what the book would be. I like making big messes and working inside the mess.

In terms of process, there were many different ways that I wrote and assembled the text. Some portions were hand-written, some were typed and assembled on the computer, some were partially augmented by Markov chain generators, Google Translate and Natural Language Generators, while others large portions were written off the top of my head on my phone at work, on the beach or in the woods. I have an interest in surrealist/dada chance methods, and no doubt to the Gysin/Burroughs cut-up: the understanding that on some constitutional level language is a material, bodily thing, and looking at “writing” as a ritual or conceptual practice, while moving beyond the idea of automatism for automatism’s sake. I personally feel that there are so many ways one can write, draw, or make marks. I don’t think there are any rules, because to me art is not a game. I’m captivated by the possibilities; the permutational effusion of language and its effects. I’m interested in the way I can see and remember words, and how these experiences make me feel. Knowing when to push things further into excess and when to let them be. In relation to the inner experience of the act of writing I’ve found the definitions of transcend and transgress to be astonishingly close.

At the time I was writing the manuscript, the word-symbol SKY was something I could pin or fix my compulsions to in what amounted to being a period of 8.5 months in 2019. Before PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY I had completed many smaller-scale writing projects, chapbooks and zines but PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY is my first full-length book.

VKN:  My natural impulse is to quote raw, visceral excerpts from your book, but your book is pageless—meaning—it exists without numbers. I imagine this gesture was intentional. Though I can speculate on why I think it’s pageless—designwise. After all, the ocean and sky and desert and film and camera have no page numbers attached to the bottom/top/side of their existence. It makes sense for you to want your book to reflect more of the cinematic-unraveling-after-the-effect of your mind’s endless, pageless, unbookendable imagination. 

EI: Wow, that is a very mindful and generous read. Yes, the book was left purposefully unpaginated.  But absolutely, Andrew Wilt (of 11:11 Press) and I talked about this and both really felt that a “pagelessness” or absence of page numberswould lend to visual, glyphic, and vertiginous sensibilities I was after. Oceans, skies, deserts, forests … to me these things belong to a symbolic category that has to do with space and has been poetically essentiallized over time. I wanted to play with that idea—to subject natural poetic imagery typically associated with Sublime, Ecstatic, or Mystic experience to the artifice of repetition and mutation. In regard to ideas of the cinematic, or to how cinema might be related here, with PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY I was thinking a lot about lenses, prisms, distortions and refractions—in relation to ritual experiences of seeing. I really wanted to facilitate conditions for an active, viewing experience (with reader and writer trading roles of performativity and spectatorship). I’m really interested in the idea of a “writer-self” and of a “reader-self”, or archaic performance scripts ascribed to the archetypes of Writer and Reader, as well as to the book as an object in general.

To explore this idea I began to imagine the idea of a book believing that it was in fact not a book, but maybe a series of photographs or a film. I found it interesting to consider inanimate objects and animate subjects trading places, or carrying the potential of being more than one thing simultaneously.

VKN: Can you talk more about your relationship with your publisher—(We are pressmates, Evan, obviously!)—what was/is like to work with Andrew? And, how was the initial project evolved with him? 

EI: It was a very exciting and serendipitous experience. I’d met the writer and artist Mike Corrao online in early 2019. He showed interest in some small self-published chapbooks I had begun to make of my own writing and proceeded to write an ekphrastic-theoretic essay about a chapbook I made called MVSHY VMBRA, or O! The Scarcity of Gore. I was amazed, and started to uncover realms of underground literature and independent presses (that prior to this) I had been totally blind too. Meeting Mike (who in turn introduced me to Andrew) was a very inspiring experience and we have collaborated quite a bit since early 2019. 

That’s right! We are now press mates and this is particularly exciting for me as an admirer of your writing and art. It’s been a thrilling experience getting to meet, correspond and collaborate with writers and artists in this ever expanding independent literary network. 

In terms of working with 11:11 on PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY, I was heartened by the fact they showed interest in the project early on. The manuscript, as you can probably imagine, was fairly complex and required lots of transfer from Word to Adobe (type setting, formatting etc.) There were moments where I was concerned about the formatting and the idea that something might get lost in the process, but Mike, Andrew and Tyler at 11:11 really helped bring the vision through and ultimately into the 3-D, and for that I’m very thankful.

VKN: I could tell from your book that it was labor-intensive, but also incredibly satisfying! Your “CHYMICAL WEDDING” part four of your collection is so textually inviting. My eyes were dancing everywhere—my eyes were like at a visual candy stores and they just want to eat up all the shark gummy worms and lexical popcorns and word art—these black boxes with words in white fonts—these different square and rectangular rooms—my favorite of these is the page that begins with “I SEE THE BODIES A BODY WITH ONLY A MOUTH A BODY WITH NO EYES” of this section so that when I came to your stenciled-like phrase “I was so hungry I ate myself” I completely related. How did the design/arrangement/visual design part of it arrive to you? Did you play around with it a lot? Was it organic and intuitive? Or did you fight with it in order to arrive to such black rooms with white words? 

EI: It’s great to hear that this portion felt inviting for you visually/textually. I think this part differs from the others based on the visual formatting and juxtapositions of font/voice. Although the text felt somewhat austere, I was hoping to create a dynamic or engaging reading experience. One where the reader might feel an agency to explore the spatial potential of the page, like a mise-en-scène or the geometry of a stage design. The formal elements of CHYMICAL WEDDING initially took priority over the conceptual elements. At the time I was interested in post-Robbe-Grillet structural conundrums and potentials. The structure of each page felt very intuitive and had to do with ways I was attempting to categorize shapes, styles and voices simultaneously. I wanted to juxtapose a more traditional symbolist/romantic poetics with stark, linear prose sections. I began playing with font and italics etc., text boxes and the use of white and black. This felt like some kind of abstract empirical process or an alchemical movement, trying to marry varying ideas and forms, across a spectrum of dark and light. The title CHYMICAL WEDDING obliquely refers to a Rosicrucian text that I read some time back in my early-mid 20s. This portion of the book was the second part I completed. and for me, felt like a new way of navigating the page. It was exciting to create these shapes, or “rooms” and be able to occupy them. The dead white screen or canvas had been a stifling place to begin and begged for an interference. There are living writers, artists, and publishers who come to mind that are seriously innovating what “literature” can do and how it can act, both digitally and in print, and I very much admire this endeavor.

VKN: Also, happy birthday to you, Evan!!! You turned (?) something yesterday? How does it feel to have your book out on your birthday? Is that right? My days and nights are pageless and numberless—like your filmesque book! And, how did you celebrate it—especially on the heel of COVID nearly, oh so nearly, ending? What is your collaboration with Mike like? What project(s) are you working on with him? Are you able to share? Give us a sample/tease of what is to come between you two? 

EI: Thank you so much Vi! Yes, yesterday was my 35th birthday and was very special though laid back. For me laid back is good and I’m not necessarily rushing to get back to various versions of “normal” social life in the U.S.

Earlier on in the publishing process Andrew asked what my ideal release day for PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY would be, and naturally, I said my birthday. That Andrew was able to make it happen was pretty awesome. There’s something about this first book being published that feels like I completed a project that started a LONG time ago in my head. I think it’s because it is the byproduct of many timelines converging. I didn’t have any understanding of what a first publishing experience might be like but regardless, this felt significant one day before my 35th birthday.

I produced a chapbook edition of Mike Corrao’s writing back in 2019 entitled AVIAN FUNERAL MARCH. This experience led to a rich correspondence and in the middle of lockdown last year Mike and I decided to collaborate on an experimental play, one that would be “impossible” to stage. The writing process was really intuitive and spontaneous. We started at the beginning and finished at the end, sending portions of text back and forth over months of emails. The play has been picked up and will be published which we’re thrilled about. That’s about all I can say at the moment!

VKN: Happy 35th to you ! May you grow to be 135 ! My Bell Curve collection is also coming out on my 42nd birthday. Your collection, from an aesthetic standpoint, also vacillates between extreme density (not necessarily maximalism) and minimalism—for instance the page with “a spider/websick” (also I love the word “websick” so much—I imagine this is how a spider might feel creating webpages with their long limbs and mouths—also themes of your book operating on a conspicuous, but also subliminal level)  from “EARTHLESS (monster of mine)” is significantly textualwise and visceralwise, and from your Part Four “CHYMICAL WEDDING”—both seem to watch the primary themes of your work in that the minimal quality of your sky is drawn, repulsed, compelled, magneticized by the suffocating, asphyxiating aspects of your poetic desire. Did you want to drown the readers? Give them the illusion that they are breathing? Or were you trying to invite your readers into the profound, savage underground, ethereal depths of your dreams/poetic/concupiscent-scape?

EI: Thank you so much that really means a lot! Wow, congratulations, that’s very exciting! I know that for many Bell Curve is a highly anticipated release and I am no exception. How great that the book will appear on your 42nd. And may you see beyond 142 years! 

I’m pleased to hear that you feel a vacillation between extreme density and minimalism in the book. It feels important to note that my background is in visual art (drawing, printmaking, multi-media). I have a bachelor’s degree in drawing/printmaking and a master’s in mult-media art/theory. That being said, my approach to writing has a lot to do with aesthetic concepts and techniques I learned through studying visual art. Certain basic things like dynamic composition, value scale, contrast, color theory, repetition etc. With PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY, I spent a great deal of time meditating on its form and geometry. Building things out and flattening them back into images. I wanted to explore different geometric qualities in writing that I had experienced in visual art, polyhedrons, cubes, and especially triangularity—that is, I was very fascinated by Nikola Tesla’s interest in the numbers 3, 6, and 9, Pascal’s Triangle and the idea of the perfect number. Again, I like the idea of putting various concepts and things together to see what happens.

Thank you for the close and perceptive reading of the text! If it was going to be a book, I really wanted it to vibrate, and to do this I wanted to present a text with multiple layers and connotations, and for it to present built-in aleatory pathways where a reader could feel some agency to associate and roam a little. Or open the book at any point and start reading. This is not to suggest there wasn’t some personal antagonism or cruelty animating my poetic desire as you say. On some level there are stylistic allusions to a literature that existed or exists to intoxicate, distort, and confront. Primarily though, I would like to activate or open up possibilites of the “writing” experience for myself. Responding to PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY the writer, philopsopher and publisher Gary Shipley wrote that the book wants to “grasp the entire sky to fold its hidden aspect into a secret weapon and blow our brains out across the heavens.”  There is a violence in me no doubt that wants to antagonize the reader/spectator on some level, but ultimately the desire to confront myself in the act of writing feels most important. If I were to, as you say, find ways to invite the reader “into the profound, savage underground, ethereal depths” of my “dreams/poetic/concupiscent-scape” this would approach and ideal experience for me.

VKN: We come from similar backgrounds, Evan! Of the three mediums (drawing, printmaking, multi-media), which medium is your favorite? The visual art and I are soulmates. In the ethos of soulfulness, your work also has long blocks of prose (some of them were born from your dream(s)—it is so delightful to see your mind operating at different modes of register, which I think what dreaming/filming is like—where we move through different worlds—but the ones that get born into books are linguistic, literary worlds. There is one line—actually lines—from one of your long prose sections that I love: “My neighbor was a tall skinny woman, slightly shorter than me … She looked at me very suspiciously at first, her skin like partially dried papier-mâché pulled tightly over a slumping and dented wire skeleton”—it reminds me of the book by Salvador Plascencia’s The People of Paper (please forgive if my memory fails to accurately summarize this since I read that book a decade or so ago), where the protagonist tries to make love to a woman made of paper and he ends up with paper injuries such as papercuts. What is your experience with translating from dream into reality like? From images to language? And, do your dreams cut you like the way paper cuts someone? If they don’t cut you, do they force you to turn themselves into books? Where do your dreams go after they leave you—sprawled out, sudorific on the bedsheet of life? 

EI: That’s so great! I love your visual art and that you have such a soulful connection to it! I really enjoyed experimenting with multi-media installation art when I was in graduate school. Interfering with space. Leaving strange things behind for people to find. Like the aftermath of a vandalism, or a ritual habitation of space. It felt theatrical to me. As is the case with a published piece of writing, much of the time a work of art is observed the piece’s creator is already absent, but in a sense not very far away. Growing up, this facet of creativity and art always made me think of the phenomenon of God.

Now that I am primarily focused on literary projects I feel a great freedom working with text, its possibilities feel expansive and liberating in their relative disengagement from materiality. But as I’m sure you know, turning text into a book is a different kind of riddle altogether. I think for me I find a lot in common with writing and the physicality of installation art, sculpture and performance–the latter you had mentioned earlier. But in the end, it is writing and drawing that are inseparable in my mind. They are the base activity in which I relate symbolically to the world.

The connection that you bring up between dreaming and filming is very poignant in terms of how cameras and eyes work I think and how I began conceiving the piece. For instance, at one point I started to frequent fairly obscure internet forums and blogs dealing with the symbolism of dreams. Over time, this became quite fascinating—a kind of voyeuristic experience—the vast majority of posts had concerned phobias and nightmares. People either weren’t having happy dreams or weren’t posting about them. I couldn’t believe how detailed and visual this personal information was that they were sharing. It was intriguing and could be surprisingly disturbing as well. I became particularly interested in and followed certain individuals who exhibited radical religious, political and suicidal ideologies, becoming convinced the world was going to end or had already ended. There must be something about the tectonic grind between dream and reality that is destined to give way to violence.

I am not aware of The People of Paper but will now have to read it! Wow these are really beautiful and evocative thoughts you have related to dream and to the surface-nature of paper and sudorific bedsheets. I have definitely come out of dreams with “cuts” of some form, in a figurative sense, or have in some way been marked by my dreams. Though a lot of the time I find my dreams frustrating and very boring. The boringness interests me too. This particular section you are addressing (LIGHTNING HEAD) was written in a fairly quick stream-of-consciousness kind of way and I pulled quite a bit from dreams, films and travel experiences. I would say that, more than anything specific, it was the ACT of dreaming, and the ACT of watching a film, and the ACT of traveling that interested me the most. I’m one of the people who never came out of the theatre when 2001: A Space Odyssey ended. To get some of the textural minutia and detail in LIGHTNING HEAD I started collecting and analyzing bad YELP reviews of motels that I would find online. The entire section in some way deals with certain Oedipal concepts I was relating to apocalyptic cults and to the image of the Pietà, particularly Michelangelo’s carved Carrara marble in St. Peter’s Basilica. I was once again exploring mental constellations.

When dreams leave maybe that means we leave the place of dream, or simply that awakening is tantamount to a different form of wandering and desire. It could be that humans have more than one self. I suppose looking at a piece of art as nothing more than a potentially objectionable residue left over from a person’s dreams makes a lot of sense to me. More than wanting an answer or proof I’ve grown to enjoy the mystery involved in being human; I like artifice, veils, surfaces and masks … frames and tensions. Going back to film or to theater, conflict and anticipation are imperative to arriving at some feeling of fulfillment or catharsis.

VKN: Why is your relationship to the ocean so erotic? Though your relationship to the sky is also erotic–it seems that that eroticism is a slight bit different. Is there a distinction between the different types of eroticism that manifests in your love for the sky/ocean? Or could one lump your philosophies of desire into one? And, while at it, I have a light question for you: what is the meaning of existence, Evan? Surely it is not number 42. Or is it? I hope not!

EI: If there is a sense of eroticism in my relation to the ocean in the book I think it is to do with the “ocean” as a representation or a simulation. This has to do with ideas the symbol might invoke: immensity, voidness, amnesia, fear. The ocean as a symbol (which in turn is metamorphosed into sky, desert, woods etc.) is effective in placing an anthropological subject in a place of uncertainty or even danger. To be clear, these paraphilic relations to objects, placesand natural phenomena in the book are not necessarily my own, or even a character’s I had in mind. I was imagining a type of first-person writing where I could explore new symbolic territories. At this point, I think if my relationship to symbolic language carries with it feelings of eroticism it may be because “art” to me is more of a state than a thing. A profoundly symbolic realm of interpretation and association where one can get lost and navigate patterns.

Haha! Maybe the answer to the question “What is the meaning of existence?” is 42??! It seems like an appropriate answer for a computer to give. Forgive me, but for a human, that question seems flawed if one considers there to be not be one singular meaning of life, but many.

VKN: Without going into too much psychoanalytic depth, your work carries a range of interests—some are bright like the sky and aquatic like the sea, but inside that sky is cloudy depths of difficult subjects such as self-killing, death, masturbation, terror, suicide—how do you manage the dark aspects of your work? (Though I don’t classify masturbation as dark! Rarely ever!)  How do you invite them in and still give them so much life/light? Also, this may feel non sequitur, but do you like Coke or Pepsi? What kind of soft-drink or drink guy are you? (alcohol could be mentioned/included)?

EI: I’m very glad you wanted to bring up some of the darker themes and connotations in the book. When I began writing the manuscript in spring 2019 a young man jumped off of the large bridge and into the river estuary where I live. The town is small and people knew this person. I heard he was in his early 20s. Someone I was close to worked with him—their desks were right fnext to each other. She said that at one point in the day he just got up and walked out of work, and that this struck people as strange. He never returned. Local authorities and Coast Guard could not locate his body. A large amount of time passed before his body was recovered way up the Washington coast. The way that this affected people on a local level felt palpable and emotional, although sadly many people have jumped off of that bridge since I’ve been here. Though I did not know a thing about him, this particular instance made me very emotional and I remember the weather that day being so blue and wet and cloudy that I felt like I was dreaming or going to drift away. That night I revisited work from the late Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader; specifically the pieces I’m Too Sad to Tell You and In Search of the Miraculous. 

Bottom line—certain events, emotions and subjects amounted in a way that pushed me in a certain direction. It all felt connected and I think in a social kind of way I needed to grieve and exorcise, even for losses that weren’t mine personally. Though there is no doubt that writing at the time was a mechanism I designed to channel and understand my own self-destructivity. I was overwhelmed. Screens, work, political vitriol, narcissism, greed, addiction, racial hatred, porn, captivity, war, terror, ads, all conglomerating into a virulent onslaught of visual information … in regard to the bleeding edge of the virtual and the real I was looking for ways in and ways out.

Now to rapidly shift gears, beverage-wise (I love this question! Ideally I would always have some kind of beverage in arms reach), I love coffee, herbal tea, beer, wine, Tequila and Gin. I don’t drink soda much anymore these days, but I love coffee to my own detriment! Espresso on ice. I really appreciate good water as I get older as well.

VKN: The vomit—eating vomits—toilet bowl scene from your book also was hard to digest. I had to remove myself in order to read/process it. Re: the young man:  I am sorry to hear that!! That must have been devastating for you to witness peripherally. Like dreams, they find their way into our work. Sometimes surreptitiously/ sometimes blatantly. Bridge-jumping always feels like time traveling to me—a way to cross from one reality to another. To cross into an extreme end of the spectrum.

What are you working on now, Evan? And, do you wear boxers or briefs or lingerie (!)? And, if one had a book (one that you love or even hate !)  designed/printed/laminated on it, which book would you choose to have on it? With a back and front cover? If I were to wear briefs, I would want this line from your book to be stenciled on it: “DURING SLEEP MY MOUTH IS FULL OF CYAN GEOMETRY.” In fact, I just want to wear briefs (only—which unfortunately I don’t own any!) while reading your PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY and gazing at Tiffany Lin’s Instagram account. I think her Instagram account and your book are soulmates. She takes pictures of clouds with her camera and uploaded them there. There is even a post about “The Sky We Built” !  Too bad I had to read it wearing all Eskimoesque outfits because I am always so cold.

EI: That’s really interesting to know that the text is capable of inducing an intense reaction like this. When I was 22 I studied painting and printmaking in Italy and tore off by myself on buses and trains through western Europe (Rome, Paris, Berlin, Prague …) and found myself in some very squalid and disgusting rooms. The more I ran out of money the more squalid and sketchy they became. This developed into a curiosity involved with visiting and experiencing spaces like this in the U.S. as well. Or maybe thinking about physically filthy or abandoned spaces as projections of an interior mental or spiritual kind of space. 

Yes, I totally understand what you mean. For some time I’ve imagined self-destructive and onanistic acts being an anology for something obscure. These subjects carry prominent social stigmas that limit the way people are able to relate to them. A frustration with this is partially where the bookemanated from I think.

Thank you for asking! I am a good way into my second full-length project. Similar to PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY this will be very visual and even more design oriented. I admire the work of the Bauhaus, Swiss typography and Russian constructivist design. I would like to push the potential for graphic design, visual art and literature to coalesce, though, I must say, it feels important not to exclude conventional literary structures and styles. My new piece is using first-person narration and design elements to explore transhistorical (or maybe pseudohistorical) poetic monologues. It is very diagrammatic and growing off of some of my experimentation in PHILOSOPHY OF THE SKY.

Ooh la la! I am a boxer briefs person but would not object to the idea of a man enjoying to wear lingerie. If I had one book to laminate or print on my undies maybe it would be Dante’s Inferno, where the mountain and its seven terraces are all present! Or maybe just your average self-help book from Barnes and Noble. Hahaha, I love that! Maybe having briefs produced with that line could be a smart marketing decision for me to get my words out there. I guess I’ll leave it to the reader to make what they will of it. To wear it as they want. I just took a look at Tiffany Lin’s sky imagery and I totally know what you mean. I was just thinking about this earlier. Since finishing the writing I’ll see images of a blue sky on my phone or catch a glimpse of it out the window, or walk into a wide-open space, stop and look up and feel transported right back into the obsessive, abductive emotions I was possessed by while writing it.

Vi Khi Nao is the author of four poetry collections: Human Tetris (11:11 Press, 2019) Sheep Machine (Black Sun Lit, 2018), Umbilical Hospital (Press 1913, 2017), The Old Philosopher (winner of the Nightboat Prize for 2014), and of the short stories collection, A Brief Alphabet of Torture (winner of the 2016 FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize), the novel, Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016). Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She was the Fall 2019 fellow at the Black Mountain Institute: vikhinao.com.

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