Author of "Trinity" in ISSUE 02 and his thoughts about Joni Mitchell, his writing space, and not being a victim.
What are you reading these days? Do you love/hate/feel neutral about it, and why?
These days I'm reading a lot of Joni Mitchell interviews. Besides the historic value and the fresh angle on her music, it's just a joy to spend time with someone so authoritative and opinionated. Her work is an example to artists of any medium.
Could you provide for us a passage of writing that deeply shifts something inside you?
The first thing that came to mind was a poem by Mary Oliver titled, "A House, or a Million Dollars." (Oliver, Mary. Felicity. Penguin, 2015.) I was working the latest in a long line of shit jobs. The lack of cash and purpose weighed a lot on my relationships. This short poem reminded me that the material world is speeding away, and the Kingdom of Love is fast upon us.
When you are working on a piece, what inspirations do you draw from?
I remember those happy moments I've thought to myself, "I'm alive. I can die now." Writing is not life; it's extra.
What craft elements are you most interested in/attached to within your writing?
I enjoy what enjambment can do. Like a spring, you can tighten lines to the margin and build tension for a lux release at the end.
Who (or what) are some of your writing obsessions, and why?
William Carlos Williams showed me that a poem is a shell on a beach. If someone comes along and hears the ocean in it, so be it.
What are some ways in which you get through a block in your creative work?
I sometimes free-write; just go, let fly. But re-reading that shit is dull, and the catharsis I initially wanted from writing has given way to longer-lived desires.
Nowadays if I don't want to write, I don't. If I have nothing to say, I listen, go for a walk, fold laundry, dance, make money for my family.
Tell us about your writing/creative space looks like.
My desk is tucked into a corner flanked by two windows. It has three flat-white legs and a glossy white triangle top splattered with oil paints. There's a brass table lamp in the corner with a bell-shade made of banyan leaves. Beside it sits the singing bowl my sister gifted me-- filled with magazine clippings. On the other side is a picture of me and my husband on Easter. We're standing in the shade on the newborn grass in front of a needly evergreen, my arm wrapped around his shoulder, his wrapped around my waist. I'm in khaki pants and a pastel pink button-up. He's in gray slacks and a baby blue dress shirt. We're smiling at each other.
But mostly I write outside.
Regarding your piece in Issue 02, what does it mean for/to you?
Sometimes I wish I could see my love's face and my own in one babe. Sometimes I wish I was born to another family, one that wouldn't blink at the name of my date, whether Gracie or James, that would merely notice if one Christmas I brought home Jesús and the next, María. Sometimes I wish I could forget that I'm different, that when I told a story beginning, "my husband," no one's eyes lit up in recognition– my flamboyant hands– or interrupted with a, "that's great!" to assure me: my difference would not be burned at the witch's feet.
I don't wish to be a victim, "existing in the false paradise of shame."* (*quote from John Trudell) I wish to extend my ferocious sense of self to my fellow man, and I do mean man; as in, "wo-man" without the "wo", a convenience of the tongue more than chosen, a corruption of "wif-(pronounced "weef", meaning wife)-man", or: man as seen through a lens.
All over the world, for most of recorded history, it has been illegal, dangerous, or deadly to present as queer. To a remarkable degree– in the West at least– it is now safe. In certain circles it's popular. Those brazen queers that came before, that paved the way for the rights we now enjoy, were moved– by an inner voice, an outside force– and were interrupted: so fought, that in our day we might flow unmolested. If someone's in your way, you have this legacy. If not, what are you waiting for?
I know there are many colors in the one light, many walks of life. I know all too well how different we are. What I want to remember is mutual. What I want to pass on was given to me. Straight folks with hearts of gold and minds of mercury have transformed the world for better in the past and will continue to do so. Because queer people of the same heart and mind have been right this whole time: being queer doesn't make one less (nor more) human than anyone else. It's not desirable. What makes us human is impersonal.
Is there anything else you would like to share with other writers?
We write to be read; or, as Joni says, "Work is meant to be shared."
Chase lives and loves in Athens, Ga, with his husband and puppy. You'll find him providing massage therapy during the work week and by Sandy Creek when the day is free.