April 1st, 2014
interviewed by Beach Sloth
"...when i started writing i guess i thought "macros are a thing, why not draw a macro" and kind of doodled some stuff that apparently people really liked"
Beach Sloth: You’ve been writing for a number of years. A lot of your writing has been focused heavily on cute creatures, pupas or snails (for example). Why have you decided to have such a strong focus on animal imagery in your work?
Blare Coughlin: i write autobiographically a lot, and i don't want to like actually have myself in my writing because that feels really weird/forced/oddly pompous, so i decided to replace myself with the pupa to get rid of that feeling. that was all it was initially and then i sort of thought to myself "hey, this is cool, i could do really neat metaphorical stuff with this, what other animals could i explore". this led to the whole snail thing in junction with me and bijan talking- truthfully, he's the one that got me into snails- and now they've become this sort of device i can fall back on for when i want to talk about myself. also they’re damn cute.
BS: Recently one of your collections ("Pupation") was featured prominently on the ‘Poetry will be made by all’ website. Obviously this is exciting as heck for you. How has the reaction to your work been on the site, and where will you be going next?
BC: i uh didn't really tell anybody about that i mean i posted one link so i got a few people going like "good job" and like two emails from people i hardly knew going "this was cool!!! good work!!!" which felt Weird and Foreign but really neat. probably next i have this ebook i've been working on so i'll put that out in the great wide world at some point, but i also want to try messing around with long form again maybe over the summer. nothing's concrete.
BS: Your work tends to be extremely adorable, up to the point of almost being a science. What role do you think adorable images play in art? And is there a science of cuteness or is that something a New York Times article made up a long time ago to make twee people feel happier?
BC: i think cuteness has a way at getting into people's hearts that can be a little disarming, and that's why i like using it so much: you can write a hard, angry poem, and some people will get it while most people will be like "that sure was angry" and move on. cuteness sort of opens up an avenue to make people be a lot more open and comfortable, and then after that you start putting terrifying stuff into your poems and your readers get terrified. i do think there is a science to it, or at least a method- i try to base what i write as "cute" off of my own life and also sort of kyary pamyu pamyu's "kawaii". anything can be framed as adorable if you try hard enough. okay, most things.
BS: Most of your writing is accompanied by images (usually pictures drawn by you). This is actually fairly unusual for a great deal of Alt Lit writers. Is there any reason for this aesthetic decision?
BC: i actually wanted to go to art school initially, like art was My Thing for a really long time, and i haven't stopped doing it ever. so like when i started writing i guess i thought "macros are a thing, why not draw a macro" and kind of doodled some stuff that apparently people really liked- this one sketch made it onto dankland's favourite things in 2013 like right below a drawing by tao lin, which was confusing and cool. aesthetically i think drawings make it a lot easier to communicate some stuff that is hard to do in a really short simple poem- like mood, tone, all that- so like presenting something with a drawing sort of i guess pushes the reader towards reading the poem with a different slant than without a drawing, if that makes sense. images are extremely powerful and i think that's why macros are pretty popular in alt lit.