Another new feature on the DWC blog: writers in conversation with other writers. This week, I asked Derek Pollard some questions about art, about music and collaboration. Derek brings his l'autre to the DWC this Friday, Jan 29th, at 7:00 pm, to read from their collaboratively written, Inconsequentia.
Jennifer Pashley: Tell me your top 3 films. Not necessarily the world's top 3; what's good for Pollard?
Derek Pollard: I can never adequately answer questions having to do with lists, particularly when those lists are culturally orientated. In this case, I simply adore film. My favorites begin with the Lumiere brothers and extend through Chaplin and Keaton to Sofia Coppola and Wes Anderson by way of the various international New Waves and independent experimental cinema. If hard pressed, I would say that Casablanca remains the one film I return to with feverish insistence. Films I have recently watched (in some cases for the umpteenth time): Redland, Divorce Italian Style, The Matador, Something's Gotta Give, The Darjeeling Limited, and Lost in Translation.
JP: What visual art moves you?
DP: I am not sure what you mean by "moves" in this case.
JP: I mean what really hits you in the gut, but maybe that's not what visual art does for you. (It's often what it does for me.)
DP: I am interested in any visual artwork that invites me to reconsider myself (or selves) and the world in which I live in light of that artwork's existence, even if that existence is necessarily limited or deliberately ephemeral. I am most attracted to visual artwork that provokes a sense of dislocation, that confronts the viewer with a potential "newness." I suppose, too, that I look for (or, if I am less generous and more accurate, I attempt to impose) analogues between visual artwork and writing, between the various "artistic" media or forms of creative expression, in order to facilitate such productive dislocation.
JP: Tell me (briefly) about your fascination with Dadaism.
DP: Dada is silly. Dada is serious. Dada is seriously silly and sillily serious. If nothing else, Dada is elusive, illusive, allusive, and the like. I like Dada like Dada likes me. We are silly and serious and silly-serious, it and me. Dada, my dear, is a frilly tree.
JP: What are you listening to these days? How important is sound?
DP: Sound is an integral event, space, object, field. I am listening all the time, guided in different directions at different times by its fascinating multiplicities. As for music and organized sound, I have been listening with great joy to Jonathan Schwartz's Saturday and Sunday shows on WNYC, Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion, Joe Puleo's Air Power, Regina Specktor's album Begin to Hope, a great deal of Muddy Waters, far too many Smiths albums, My Bloody Valentine's album Loveless (on cassette in my car as I drive along the Jersey Shore to and from work), Sir Alec Guniness reading Eliot's "The Wasteland" (also on cassette, also in my car), and all of Galaxy 500's albums.
JP: You're a proponent of collaboration in a vastly solitary field. Why?
DP: I find collaboration to be an interesting and fecund way to disorient myself, to interrupt and refashion my own compositional (or recording?) strategies. It provides opportunities for interventions that might not arise if I were merely writing individually - if one can ever be said to write "individually," that is. I like the explicit acknowledgment of the confusion between the singular and the plural during the collaborative process, between the "I" and the "we." For instance, I am very much intrigued by the fact that in several cases in the "22 23" section of Inconsequentia, Henderson and I can no longer remember who authored which poem. In those cases, the poem itself has displaced us as individual authors, insisting that we set aside such distinctions in favor of other, perhaps more productive, considerations.
Jennifer Pashley is a fiction instructor and the workshops coordinator for The Downtown Writer's Center. She is the author of the story collection States, and has had stories appear in Mississippi Review, Los Angeles Review and SWINK.