Chelsea Tadeyeske

In honor of Pride Month, we invited issue 13 contributor Chelsea Tadeyeske to talk about her ongoing projects and poetry in an email interview. Check out the q&a below.

Pretty Owl Poetry: In January, you started the experimental journal DUETDUET with e.r. perry. Can you tell us a bit about this new project?

Chelsea: Of course! DUETDUET comes out of edie and I’s constant craving for creative collaborations between each other and the people we love/admire to see what surprises might happen upon impact. To be totally transparent, it was also a means to dig us out of a production slump. We tend to set these crazy deadlines in an attempt to light a fire underneath ourselves. I was finishing up a dreamy collaborative book off of pitymilk (press) between Michael Sikkema and Elisabeth Workman called ‘MOON POON’, and edie and I tried making use of leftover paper stock and bulk printing prices, so we pushed ourselves to come up with an idea, kinda over night.

I like the idea of having two poets meet one another through their shared chapbook, have it be like an unveiling, a “Nice to meet you, I like your work….next to mine”. Being a poet can sometimes seem pretty isolating, and to me DUETDUET is sort of an exercise in sharing space and letting go in a sense. We hope it’s a project we can get off the ground and build some substantial interest around, just gotta keep making and meeting those deadlines!

POP: Who are some of your LGBTQIA influences? What are you reading now?

C: I literally squealed when I saw CA Conrad was featured in the same Pretty Owl issue, because I’ve been reading their work for years and they played a fundamental role in shaping what subjects and intersections I’m into exploring in my own work. The Book of Frank sort of shook up my idea of what poetry could accomplish, the different yucky and euphoric feelings it allows you to seep in and how they both are equally important to experience in order to process this thing called life. I remember feeling very affected by it for weeks.

Currently, I’m drooling over Precious Okoyomon’s work. I was lucky enough to share a city with her for a short while and since we’ve both moved, I’ve been such a fan girl from afar.

POP: What’s your evil twin’s master plan? How do you plan on stopping them?

C: I oftentimes feel that my overriding consciousness is my evil twin and sort of talks my “angelic” (?) twin out of taking risks. It’s very self-doubting and pitying. I think it might just want me to submit to normal anxiety narratives that are dead ends, which is honestly one of my biggest fears.

Well, the plan is to dismantle imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy of course! Actions need to be both small and big, and maybe a part of dismantling common narratives is telling yourself your queer ideas and creativity are valid and need to saturate public consciousness, f*ck the haterz.

POP: Your poems in our Spring 2017 issue read like a delicious, surrealist, femme smoothie. What inspired these combinations of narratives and imagery?

C: When I was young, I remember having an overwhelming sense that I was “aged” in some weird, inexplicable way. I was way into left-brain type things, super orderly and rational. Now that I’m older, I feel conversely, like I’m literally ALWAYS spacing out and finding it hard to focus. A lot of the time that results in weird spurts of creative output that is totally ruled by intense emotional drainage. I feel like I soak up a lot of feelings in those spacey episodes and their origins or roots aren’t always that clear. When I write poems, it often begins with one line and I build the rest around that, using emotive associations, sort of building each rung of the ladder as I climb it.

For me, poetry is my means of investigating past trauma associated with my femininity, the women I grew up with around me, reclamations of vulnerability, that fine line between what you want and what is hurtful, what was traumatic and what you desire. The body as a site of simultaneous pain and pleasure. How to make meaning out of all of that is something I’m endlessly curious by.

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