Kōan Brink and Simon Brown both published chapbooks with above/ground press in 2021. After reading each other, they decided to correspond.
From: Kōan Brink
To: Simon Brown
Date: Dec. 26, 2021 19:53
Ah! I wasn’t even planning to start my questions today, and then, the January issue of American Vogue was so terrible I thought “I need to read something good,” and I started rereading your chapbook again and I had so many thoughts.
These poems make me feel quietly happy, like I’m able to feel happy because they’re not forcing happiness upon me. I think that makes me feel content, actually, not happy. The word “happiness” often has a construction to it for me, whereas “content-ness” I think possesses a quality of being from the ground up, and I feel the ground in these poems, even with their playfulness and bright melancholies. Or, like you’re writing down your dreams and giving them a soft path in the form of a poem.
Okay, the first thing that I got really excited about was that I sense this slight surrealist, absurdist quality akin to “The Nose” (one of my favorite short stories of all time) going on in a few of the poems. It’s an uncanny feeling while reading that the work very much still takes place in this world, but it’s a kind of dream within the ordinary, not fantastical. I’m thinking in particular of the poem “The Change,” which I think is one of my favorite poems in the chapbook, and which also has strands of The Brothers Karamazov humming in it for me:
“... I was headed to confession, would you like me to pick you up some holy water? Just then, a seagull swooped down, cawing stridently. Holy water!? But all water is holy! Interesting! I said, trying to sound intelligent. I always hide my accent so as to not stick out in the village...”
Do you enjoy reading Russian authors, or is this something I have completely made up in my mind? I feel a slight embarrassment about how little fiction I actually read—my daily reading intake is often some kind of too sweet cocktail of fashion/literary magazine, Instagram, natural wine label and Chantal Akerman film. I sometimes read poems, too! What have you been reading during the pandemic? And is there one book you have read in its entirety multiple times, like a hymn book for you?
Second, now that I have gone on a Russian tangent that may or not be arbitrary, I would guess you are a fire sun sign astrologically, but I am also going off the fact that Gogol was an Aries, and I could be completely wrong and this could be offensive. My second guess is Aquarius, my third guess is Pisces. When is your birthday?
Third, kleenexes appear a few times in these poems. As someone with perpetual sinus issues who grew up in a very cold climate, I appreciate their appearance, like a kind of blanket. How did this word first emerge for you? With “The Sock,” it feels like kleenexes could be a dream symbol; I feel like this is something that would happen in a dream, a mouth full of kleenexes. Also, do you actually buy kleenexes? I have been known to carry a toilet paper roll around with me, because I am very lazy. This feels important for a Canada / Minnesota writer conversation.
Speaking of geography, I feel like we are both “fans” of water .... is “fan” the right word? I am in love with the sentences: “I am slowly unknowing, I’m slowly unknowing and I/ really don’t know, I really don’t know about freshwater habitats. I don’t know about freshwater habitats, I am freshwater habitats drying up, drying up around the edges.” !!!! (from the poem that begins [I am small air].) This feels like a basic question to ask between the two of us, but, What body of water is closest to you? Interpret “close” as emotional or physical, or anything you’d like. And do you think of freshwater habitats as purely within a water realm, or is it something spiritual as well for you, or even a place in your mind?
Fifth, you do this lovely thing with the repetition of “I,” especially “I am” in this poem, where the repetition of a self almost negates itself because the “I” is repeated so many times, until it’s only the nouns/objects that remain in a new landscape made by a thread of invisible assertions. How much weight do you feel your I’s actually have in navigating your sentences, are they like stones/bones, or quite floating, connective tissues for you? I am asking this question selfishly, too, because I feel like the Confessional “I” that say, a writer like Plath or Sexton uses, often gets attention for its strong tone, but your I’s are much quieter and subtler in their use, and I love this and have been thinking about the way an “I” can be soft, looming, or dreamy, especially in more prose-like poems. They can be like water, or a way to navigate thinking.
Okay!! That’s probably enough for now. Thank you for bearing with me. It has been/continues to be an absolute pleasure to read your chapbook—while I believe there are many beautiful poets in the world, I don’t often find something that I immediately like, that perfectly fits my reading preference. It’s such a gift when this happens, and I really feel that way with your pages, that they’re poems I could read at breakfast, or before sleep. Thank you for this light yellow hum.
From: Simon Brown
To: Kōan Brink
Date: Jan. 3, 2022 11:52
Wow, there is so much here to think about, I don’t know if I should answer, or ask my own questions for you, or maybe I can manage to mix the two together somehow. Maybe! haha.
That’s an interesting way of thinking about poems, from the ground up... it seems to me that I think of this “contented” quality you’re describing as “floatingness”, even though I agree, it is attached to the ground, as you say, or maybe emerges from it. Maybe it’s the floatingness of a floating balloon that does indeed have a little string connected it to the earth... like you say, kind of like a dream. And I think you’re right, these are often soft paths for dreams, or sometimes soft, sometimes lumpy, sometimes windy paths. Do you write down your dreams, and use them in poems? I often think about the connections between dreaming and writing. What is the relationship between them like for you?
I’d almost never written anything that could be described as “narrative” before this, so the three little story-poems (The Sock, The Smudge, The Change) are really a new way of doing things for me. And please don’t be embarrassed, I read barely any fiction either, which is maybe why I wanted to try it... my approach couldn’t be anything but naive, so it seemed interesting to me. However, I have read Gogol, I remember a good friend giving me a book of his stories in high school. We’re still friends! I really haven’t read that many Russians, though I always like the desperate-yet-somehow-joyous vibe when I do.
I’ve had a hard time reading during covid... my attention span has gotten even shorter than it already was, unfortunately. I guess it’s always been pretty short, which is probably one of the reasons I like poetry. I also have to read to survive doing translation work, so that sometimes drains all the reading energy. But I love Chantal Akerman, and I love reading labels of all sorts, I guess because they include a lot of random-seeming lists, which I also love.
A book I’ve read many times in the past couple of years... there aren’t many! I would have to say Ring of Fire, by Lisa Jarnot, and the collected poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton. Both these books I dip into randomly when I need to be reminded of what poetry can do, I guess? I tend to read in a non-linear way, hardly ever from front to back... even when I was a kid, I would read the end of a book first, partially because I’m left-handed, and it was easier, or more “natural” to hold the book open with the heavy part on the left! It’s silly, but it influenced how I read.
A friend also gave me an amazing book recently, it’s in French, but there must be an English version... Psaumes du pèlerin (Psalms of the Pilgrim), the poems of Tukaram, a 17th-century Marathi poet who didn't know how to read and write, but dictated his poems to a friend... “un vers dans la figue / la figue est tout son univers” (the worm is in the fig, the fig is her universe).
Signs, signs… I’m a Taurus-almost-Aries! April 22. When is yours?? I’m not really able to do my chart, haha, because my mom doesn’t remember what time I was born, other than it was sometime in the middle of the night.
Haha, I love the image of a toilet paper roll perpetually on a person (or your person)... very inspiring and would love to make a poem out of it. Can I? My experience is probably similar to yours, growing up in a freezing cold dilapidated house in the middle of the freezing cold woods of New Brunswick with allergies and constant colds, kleenexes have always been a big part of my life, haha. But I love them! I love how they are both abject and beautiful, things that people throw away unthinkingly, but that create these odd, abstract little forms. For a few years, I made contour drawings of kleenexes I used, they looked kind of like maps. I also associate kleenexes with tears and mourning. They contain multitudes, as they say. Anyways, I could go on about kleenexes for hours on end, haha. I am touched by our kleenex affinity.
Oh yes, I really felt our shared water affinity too (in my lingering allergy haze I almost wrote “water infinity” instead of “water affinity”, haha). I think “water fan” is the perfect term. For you, the Great Lakes are obviously important, and I feel very connected to them as well, as I live on the Saint Lawrence River, just on the south shore across from Quebec City. And all my childhood I lived on the Atlantic Ocean in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and then later in and around Montreal, so I’ve always felt close to this continuum. The Etchemin River is just maybe thirty feet from where I’m now writing, and about half a mile down, it flows into the Saint Lawrence... sometimes I just stare at the moving water and think about it going out to sea. It’s funny, actually exactly where I live along the Saint Lawrence is where the fresh water of your Great Lakes starts to mix with the salt water of the Atlantic, so the water here is mildly brackish. I’m drinking water from your Great Lakes as I write! It comes from just a few miles upriver. Anyway, I am rambling. But it’s such a wonderful question. What water are you near? Physically, or spiritually, or otherwise.
It’s funny that you ask about the “I”, in a way, because for many years I avoided using the “I” entirely in poems. Now I (haha) try to use it in a way that I hope is, like you say, more liquid. I do prefer the lower-case “i” often, it seems softer, less differentiated and high-handed. I’d almost like for it ideally to become a phoneme like the others... “i”, “oh”, “ee”, “ah”, etc. The “soft i” for me feels like a way of returning to some sort of equilibrium between the “i” and the rest of reality, between humans and other forms of movement/life/liquid. Like you say, “[what] if there was no / real human message, if humans / were no different than the lake”?
That’s very kind, what you say about these being poems you can read before going to sleep... that is a good way of encapsulating a certain goal in poetry... thanks so much for these insights, I am taking notes!
Speaking of which, I’ve actually been reading Self-Portrait as Lake before going to sleep the past few nights! It seems like it’s the centre of the book in many ways, and maybe also the book’s key, or keystone, or magic stone, or lake pebble, or something! I keep coming back. I love how the “if” beats the odd rhythm of the poem (and the parallel with my iffy night!). I adore the whole book, but this poem really attaches itself somewhere deep inside, like a loving mollusc. It’s lake-ness also seems protected on either side by poems where the lake (or The Lake?) figures strongly as well.
Your line “having faith in the drift itself” also keeps coming back to me... it seems like it could describe a whole approach to writing, to creating, and to all of life itself, I guess. I like how this poem is sort of prayer-like and reassuring (for me, anyway), but ends with what feels like a warning: “would / I have spent a life tasting / each thing / and eating nothing.” It feels like it’s about so many different things, but maybe especially spiritual life, or inner life? Maybe (to quote you) “in this sense / there is no end to religion”?
I could probably ask more questions, but there are already quite a few here scattered throughout. I really love your book, maybe in part because it really does address those big questions, but in a very non-frontal way. In a liquid way. How are writing and dreaming connected? Writing and spiritual life? Water and stone? Web-making and stillness? What do you repair when you make a web?
To be continued...
From: Simon Brown
To: Kōan Brink
Date: Jan. 3, 2022 17:31
You said, or Eric said, or you said Eric said writing a poem is like making a second body. A soft shell, or a crust of snow. The crust of daily bread, or the bread turned into fish. Jump back in the lake! The snowy field is a lake, and the lake is inside us. Maybe it does all exist at the same time. Gender is a lake or a tree or a kleenex or a pebble. Drop it in gently. Death is the most intimate puddle.
(There are no question marks here, but I think it’s a question all the same?)
From: Kōan Brink
To: Simon Brown
Date: Jan. 15, 2022 16:31
My deep apologies for taking so long on this response! I visited my mom & her partner, which is always a little strange, but there was snow (!) so much of it, and the La Plata Mountains were beautiful. I miss water so much, even in solid form. Austin, Texas, mostly just has humidity in the air. The only water I really see here is the Colorado River from the upper floors of the public library downtown.
A few lines from your chapbook have been reverberating through my head this week: “I want to know love without knowing love’s showing. / I want to know love without knowing love’s showing.” They break my heart a little. I understand them as love without knowing the effect, a pure emanation regardless of its potential consequence. But then the “want” feels like an uncontrollable thread pulling the reader forward.
I am listening to the Semisonic record Feeling Strangely Fine as I finish writing this, which, now that I think about it, I don’t actually think is very good except that there’s something about hearing the song “Closing Time” that reminds me of riding in the passenger seat of the car with my mom in Minnesota in 1999 and makes me want to cry. It’s a little how I feel thinking, “I want to know love without knowing love’s showing.” Like there’s so much we will never be prepared for.
I loved imagining you growing up in a dilapidated house in New Brunswick. What is one memory you have from childhood that you feel has informed the place your writing might create, or the lines of your poems more generally? I loved when you described the kind of meditation of looking at water and imagining it going out to sea. Growing up, I used to think about Lake Superior extending all the way to Quebec City, actually! We were connected growing up via the St. Lawrence Seaway, all the locks and canals along the shipping route. When I touched my hand to the lake as a kid, I would imagine that I was also touching the Atlantic Ocean. That was an immense relief, that sensation of travelling somehow, being perpetually in a landlocked state.
I have only lived in Austin since August, and the Texas Hill Country is a landscape I feel deeply unfamiliar with. Texas generally I feel a bit like a fish out of water! There is a slight spiritual dryness for me, not being within walking distance of a river or a lake from where I live. Most of my life I have been within walking distance of a body of water. When I lived in Brooklyn, I used to walk down to the piers every afternoon. This correspondence is so wonderful because it’s giving me the urge to look at many maps. To remind myself where Quebec City is located along the St. Lawrence, where New Brunswick is in position to Quebec, etc. How much ocean shoreline New Brunswick has.
Language feels physical like water to me, or at least, it’s one of the only ways I know how to be a body. In your own writing practice, do you feel more intimate with French or English in the body right now? What are you currently working on, after the publication of this beautiful chapbook? Do you like the chapbook form generally, the smaller project length? In Iffy Night, at least, I think the poems very much occupy a lovely chapbook size in their grouping.
I feel like we can coin the term “liquid I” now. Your discussion of “I” in terms of sound makes so much sense. I was noticing the utilization of sound in a few of your poems. I loved the dance of “sad spin/spell fallen flat,” especially the step of vowels. I couldn’t quite believe you hadn’t written a narrative poem before—the forms of “The Change,” “The Sound,” and “The Sock” seem very effortless, and balance quite well with the sparer, more elucidated sounds in some of the poems.
You asked about dreams—which is maybe an obsession of my “adult” life. I have quite vivid and awful dreams every night, actually! Haha. Or maybe they could more accurately be called “uncanny”, in the way there is often a place or series of events that’s familiar, but not quite right, veering toward dark, a feeling something is about to go wrong. I write down my dreams every morning, mostly because I feel like I can’t go on with my day unless they’re exorcized in some way. I think about dreams a lot when writing, as a kind of subconscious material fabric that connects my waking and sleeping states. I often think dreams, even if narratively inaccurate, speak to an emotional state and fears more accurately than my actual life does. Of Superior, I remember “Primrose Hill” being written directly from a dream, although I think many actual bits of the dream were cut! The rest is kind of “dream residue.” How do dreams and sleeping figure into your writing? Do you keep a dream journal?
I had never read Lisa Jarnot before our exchange, but when I looked her up and read a few of her poems, I could completely see elements of her work in yours, especially the poems “The Most Perfect Hill” and “Poem Beginning with a Line by Frank Lima.” There is a gorgeous pocket-like quality, a technique of crafting Russian dolls. She said something that I love, which is, “I think poems are always collage on some level.... Collage is a way to force awareness out of the random flow of information that’s constantly bombarding us.” Dreams feel a little like collages, too, and this quote also reminded me of our conversation about lists, film clips—and also that I imagine, after reading your chapbook and talking to you now, that you might be a very “visual person.” I was wondering if you made literal collages, or if you feel close to any particular drawings or photographs?
I absolutely love that you read from the back forward, being left-handed. I do feel also that I could read your chapbook that way with immense satisfaction. Speaking of covers—can you tell me a bit about the choice of yellow? It’s particularly appealing to me thinking about the landscapes of Northern Minnesota and of Canada in winter, which I think of as being quite white and grey and lacking in any kind of warmth. And there’s something about the yellow that’s a bit of a promise of sun at a later time, or a star at night, which is the poet’s time.
Okay, I didn’t actually write everything I had taken down as notes, but I will save them! I hope you are healthy and well and feeling good this mid-January—
From: Simon Brown
To: Kōan Brink
Date: Jan. 22, 2022 14:42
Oh, no apologies please, be they deep or shallow... I am also very very slow (obviously, haha). But so glad you got to see some snow in Colorado. Snow is so beautiful... solid but maybe liquid, depending on circumstances, maybe in between. Nothing compares! haha.
Oh I love “the liquid i” — this can be our term! It sounds like the title of an anthology or something.
“I want to know love without knowing love’s showing” — I didn’t really think about what it meant when writing it, but i see what you mean about it breaking the heart a little. For me it breaks the heart too, but kind of like how a theological conundrum can break the heart, if that makes sense. I guess all heartbreak is like a theological conundrum, haha. I think it’s kind of the idea that love indeed exists somewhere, but we will never be able to perceive it directly. What we call love is actually the showing of the feeling, and not the feeling itself. In other words, seeing as love is a fundamentally interrelational kind of thing, the only way of perceiving it is through the showing or the being shown. So, I think the poem is trying to express a yearning to know the thing that can’t directly be known, if that makes sense. The simultaneous sadness and exhilaration when faced with impossibility. There is maybe a name for this, but I don’t know.
Your car memory with your mom in 1999 makes me think of how things outside of language (like a smell, or a melody), can transport us in time so much better than language. Sometimes I think that a poem can aspire to this, to do something that language can’t usually do, but other times I think that maybe we should let them be, just let those things that operate outside language do their own thing.
But all that sort of creates another conundrum, which is kind of at the heart of poetry (for me, anyway)... the most compelling memories are the ones that are least easy to express via language, but that of course doesn’t stop us, and this sort of embracing of impossibility seems fundamental somehow. I don’t know. It’s like your memory of touching lake water and thinking of the sea... my most intense childhood memories are of looking at or touching water. I remember having learned about the infinity of the water cycle, from evaporation to precipitation to condensation to evaporation and so on, and looking at the ocean one day and just crying and crying at the impossibility of understanding the infinity of it all. No spiritual dryness here, haha. Lots of other problems, but not that one. So I don’t know, just going for it despite impossibility seems like a vector of both our writing practices, maybe?
Dream-worlds seem very very present in your poems... sometimes more in the foreground, like in Primrose Hill, but elsewhere still very much there in the background as well. I guess this is what you call the “dream residue”, kind of spattered all over. Maybe it’s because I have a terrible memory, but at some point I started imagining that any line in any poem beginning with “there was” or something similar was actually referring to a dream. This is kind of a mean inner trick to play on poets’ intentions, I suppose, but I didn’t mean to! Not initially, anyway. It makes it so that any described memory could be a dream, or reality, or somewhere in between. But with your work, it doesn’t seem like a trick at all... the poems seem to encourage it, if that makes sense.
I kept a dream journal for about five years, but i started to find it repetitive, and gave up. I was starting to get irritated with myself, I think... it was the same dream-format 90% of the time, with only the different variables (people, setting, objects) changing. Now I just note the ones that particularly strike me, or really stick out. They go into a poem right away, as quickly as possible, in “emergency transcription mode”, haha. But maybe I should start keeping a dream journal again.
Wow, that’s an interesting quote from Lisa Jarnot: “collage is a way to force awareness”. It’s maybe the collage-ness of dreams that forces awareness too. I don’t know if I’m a visual person or not... it’s all so relative. The only university I’ve done was art school, so in that context, as compared to all the very very very visual people around me I felt relatively non-visual, as I was always more into text than image. But that was quite a while ago, and I feel more visual now, haha. But collage is certainly a fundamental part of my root-system (or would be if I was a tree). Sometimes I think of it more in a time-based sense, like improvisation, which is kind of like collage in time, I guess. Your poem What Is Listening gives me the collage feeling-frisson. Or maybe it is more improvisational. There were pieces of milk / in the street. / There were pieces of my ceiling-shaped muscle / in the gutter. It might be improvised, but it’s so coherent at the same time! Such a difficult unbalancing act to maintain. If I had a muscle (which I don’t), I would want it to be ceiling-shaped.
I don’t know what I’m working on at the moment, haha. Quite a few short things for different contexts, a magazine thing or two, some spiritualism-channelling poems for an anthology on death. I love the chapbook format, for me it’s the perfect length. I feel like my brain is too stubborn and/or shrivelled to write something coherent that’s 80-100 pages long. What are you working on? Have you ever tried writing collaboratively? It seems to me you would be very good at collaboration. Hell, aren’t we collaborating at this very moment? In some sense, anyway.
I keep thinking about the “catholic tree” that your partner’s lovely incense inspired. What a great combination of words. It seems like in the catholic worldview, trees are definitely not holy. But old cups are? Haha, I love catholicism... how it designates what’s holy/important/worthy or not seems so random when viewed from the outside.
So... rob wrote me yesterday, asking how our inter-interview was coming
along, haha. He said he could just publish all of our correspondence,
if we want, and if we keep corresponding, a part 2 later on. Or we (or i) could
edit it down to something more “standard”. What do you think, or do you have a
preference? I’m a big fan of not working too hard myself, haha. And it’s maybe
all interesting to someone, I don’t know? Or maybe it would be tedious? Maybe both
are equally true.
From: Kōan Brink
To: Simon Brown
Date: Jan. 29, 2022 22:01
Apologies if my thoughts here are a bit fragmentary—I feel like my mind this evening is moving much more quickly than my fingers! And my paragraphs are more like ice chunks without transitions than a nice, snowy field.
Maybe we can assemble “An Anthology of the Liquid I” someday, or it can be a special chapbook release.... This would be a dream project to me, actually. A liquid I like snow melting into water, the writing included tracking that motion of melt.
Re: I want to show love without knowing love’s showing. I love how we don’t always think about things when we write them, but they feel true on an intuitive level in the body, a way of language functioning as an expression of something physical that does not necessarily have a straightforward logic. I always felt that about the line, I want to be unbearable in the Anne Carson poem “Stanzas, Sexes, Seductions,” and after years of reading the poem and hearing her talk about the line in an interview, I still don’t really know what it means and I love it.
I also love thinking about all heartbreak as a kind of theological conundrum! Do you ever write lyric essays (I imagine you do)? I would love to read an essay you wrote on this topic.
The showing of love not being the feeling of love itself. Yes. This not being ever to perceive love directly—or maybe, when we do perceive it we can’t possibly recognize it as such—feels akin to Sōtō Zen teachings on reality, that we can’t ever truly know what Reality is with a capital R, we’re living in a world of perceptions that we’ve agreed upon in some way, i.e., it must be a tree because of how the bark feels on our hands, the green of the leaves, etc. But we have no idea what a tree is, really! We move through life directed by gestures and perceptions and yearnings. This also feels directly tied to your thoughts on understanding love as only through showing or being shown. That love (like a tree!) is purely relational, not static, dynamic. If it was static it’d be dead. And love can only be alive or else it’s not really love, anymore, is it. Like we have ghosts of love but they’re not love. They’re memories in the body.
I am thinking now of the poem as a place of yearning, and that the yearning in itself is a place/feeling to rest inside. That’s truly what I want from a poem, I think, solace in the yearning, and I feel like your poems give me that space.
“Let things outside of language do their own thing.” I love this. I’ve often wished that I felt a desire to communicate less, thought that if I were really creatively in-tune or something I wouldn’t feel the need to verbalize an earthy scaffolding for myself in the world. I’m ashamed that my primary love language is verbal validation!!! Lol. It almost feels like a way of the brain operating, some kind of physical fabric that makes sense to me. I do think language can be very grounded and thick for some of us that grew up quite disassociated from our bodies or have any number of traumas or anxieties, especially from childhood. Language can be a gesture that makes sense when other more bodily or structured forms were unfamiliar for a very long time. I’m sure some psychologist has a name for what I’m writing about but I think talking with you about it in the form of a poem is much more gratifying and makes much more sense to me.
There seems to be an absolute, spiritual dimension in something very literal. Like looking at the water. The sensation of water. I feel so in tune with your experience of crying near water. It feels like a religiousness to both of our chapbooks in a way. When I went to divinity school everyone was like “I’m spiritual, not religious” and I joked to my friend I was going to make a tee-shirt that said, “I’m religious, not spiritual.” The literalness of sea and rocks to me is divine. It’s a very straightforward kind of divinity, touching water, in a way that almost feels formal, like a vow. There’s no circling around it.
I actually just re-looked up the definition of religious, one of them being: “a person bound by monastic vows.” In Sōtō Zen, you take bodhisattva vows even though they’re impossible to uphold over a lifetime. But the commitment to the vow is what deepens your relationality with others. In this sense, poetry feels like the perfect example of the bodhisattva vow, and speaks to this impossibility that you’re gesturing to.
“There was” is totally dream language! I think memory is always a kind of dream, in that we’re interpreting an event based on whatever current perceptions are floating around in our minds. You found the dream journal repetitive! Was there a specific recurring dream.... I love the “emergency transcription mode” of morning, it’s a rare window, when you can remember the details of the dream vividly that just hours later will have slipped away.
I can definitely see you in art school. I think in some way both of our poems have a visual quality to them, or there are rather pieces of language yearning to be visual that are just not at the end of the day? I work at an art school because I love visual art more than writing in some ways haha. All day language dreams of being a painting and fails. For those of us that process sensation this way, through text, it cuts like a painter’s knife.
My final question: what kind of tree would you be if you were a tree?
Oh, and what is this anthology on death?? Incredible. I’m working on a full-length manuscript that is honestly pieces of the above/ground chapbook and a forthcoming artist’s book smashed together with a few new poems so basically a collage. And a prose piece about limestone/the Heart Sutra that’s very bad.
TO READ MORE, AND FIND OUT WHAT KIND OF TREE SIMON IS… STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!
Kōan Anne Brink was born and raised in Minnesota. They are the author of The End of Lake Superior (above/ground, 2021) and a forthcoming artist’s book What Sleeps under Lacquer (NECK Press, 2022). Kōan currently teaches at The Cooper Union and the Austin Waldorf School. They are a lay ordained Sōtō Zen student practicing with teachers at Ancestral Heart Zen Monastery. koanannebrink.com
Simon Brown (he/they) is a self-taught poet and translator from rural southwestern New Brunswick (Peskotomuhkati lands) now based in the Quebec City area (Wendat and Abenaki traditional territory). His texts have been presented in collections, artist books, media artworks, performances, and poetry journals. Simon’s latest chapbook, oh the iffy night, was published by above/ground press in fall 2021. simonbrown.ca