As part of the Red Alder Review Open Mic series – Q&A and poem from Carlie Blume.
RA: How, since the pandemic began, have you been able to connect or stay connected with the literary and writing communities?
CB: I am fortunate in that my workplace, Breathing Space Creative, gives me access to an online writing community which I am so grateful for. Eight months ago, I moved from the outskirts of Vancouver to a small island, so my ability to stay connected to a face to face community has been limited—but I still come out to Vancouver for the odd event and connect via Twitter and Instagram.
Where do your writing ideas come from? What role do imagination and memory play in your writing? Is there some interaction between the two or does one take precedence over the other?
I get a lot of my ideas when I just let my mind wander. Usually it happens when I go on a long walk or give myself time to sit and read a book or watch an interesting movie.
I think memory is the basis for imagination—memory is such an odd, murky, fanciful place that enables our imagination to thrive. When we take the time to really sit with our memories and feel them in our senses, whether it’s trying to remember the smell of your childhood home or the way your body felt when you kissed someone for the first time, you are igniting the imagination and paving the way for elaboration and then hopefully writing.
As you think about your current work, are you able to reflect on how your writing practice has evolved over time? How do you generally
think about your approach to process?
The long answer is I wish I could say that my writing practice has made some big strides in terms of evolution over the years but it’s still a bit makeshift at the moment. I think process and practice are really complicated concepts for a lot of writers to embody these days, especially since the pandemic hit. It seems that at any given moment these systems we so painstakingly build for ourselves as writers have the potential to come crashing down the moment our childcare is compromised or our bodies hit new levels of exhaustion. I try my best to come at process with solid intent and a firm goal but the truth is I am a messy human who often struggles to do this. The short answer is I’m working on it.
What happens when words fail?
When words fail me I turn to images, the words of other writers, nature and working with my hands—movies, art, books, walking outdoors, yard work, baking, solitude (if I can get it). Once I do that the words usually come back to me.
What are you reading currently? Are there any recent or forthcoming titles that you’re excited about?
I am currently reading Exposure by Olivia Sudjic, Pure Color by Sheila Heti, The World Beyond Your Head by Matthew B. Crawford and Standing in a River of Time by Jónína Kirton. I’m really looking forward to Chelene Knight’s upcoming novel Junie as well as Ottessa Moshfegh’s Lapvona.
Do you have any new work forthcoming in books, journals, chapbooks, anthologies, etc.?
Nothing at the moment—I’ve been spending most of my time promoting my debut poetry collection, Gigglepuss which came out in April, as well as working on my second collection of poetry.
Online Boutique Purchases for the End of the World
-$500 leather clutch that looks like a greasy brown sandwich bag with the top rolled down
-$285 earrings made from foraged glass (discarded sprite bottle) and farmed pearls, that look like a drowsy craft a small child made
-$150 canvas carryall modeled after one of those ghost-like plastic bags they give you at corner stores with privilege signs, embossed with the words Thank You for Shopping with Us (red Recoletta font)
-$50 silk pandemic mask in bone, embossed with crimson buttons—same color as the rash the WHO warns you to watch for when checking yourself for symptoms
-$262 Swedish clogs made from leather and alder wood to slip in and out of at a moment’s notice, in case one needs to flee to higher ground—complete with fold-out strap that can be used to buckle your foot in (when the fleeing turns into running for your life)
-$498 heavy weight matte cotton sac dress to cover body in an attempt to reclaim female form, while subverting the male gaze
-high-waisted micro mini vegan cactus leather skirt (price upon request) to showcase body in an attempt to reclaim body through choosing not to hide from the male gaze
-$130 silk satchel with a scrunchie for a handle to attach to ponytail (hands must be free) when readying oneself to claw at the man who has been stalking you for five blocks
Carlie Blume was born on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh (Vancouver). She is a 2017 graduate of Simon Fraser University’s The Writer’s Studio and the author of Gigglepuss (2022). She currently lives on Salt Spring Island, B.C with her husband and two children.