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Alli Warren Featured at SF Weekly

By Harriet Staff

Alli Warren

What poet could possibly make SF Weekly’s The Write Stuff column even more resplendent than it already is? An interview with Alli Warren, of course! Warren talks with The Write Stuff about her experiences in the Bay Area and the culmination of her first full-length book, Here Come the Warm Jets (City Lights, 2013).

When people ask what do you do, you tell them… ?

Depends who’s asking. If they seem sympathetic to the troubling fact that, in our culture, doing is so intimately tied to employment, I’d probably say that I do lots of things, some to pay rent, and some for love. It’s probably helpful to distinguish between my job and my work, both of which compel me, but for different reasons. I’ve never had the least bit of career ambition. My job allows me to feed and clothe myself. I don’t expect it to fulfill me. I’m not sure I’d want it to.

What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

I have trouble ranking things — best, biggest, brightest, etc. Things change, and I am one of those dynamic things, so my thinking should reflect that. But I do struggle with finding time to read and write. I struggle with political despair. I struggle with trying to be a better kinder stronger human being. I struggle to remain open-hearted. I struggle with trust. I struggle with my relative privilege as a white American. I struggle with knowledge that my privilege comes at the cost of others’ suffering. I struggle with mortality. I struggle with actuality. I struggle with ethics and politics and aesthetics. I struggle with capitalism. I struggle with those who think capitalism’s not a problem. I struggle with speech. I struggle with the Internet. I struggle with depression. I struggle with desire.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Read books and write poems?

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

I seem to have become a “poet,” which makes me happy, and happiness seems like success. I feel activated and supported by the energies & commitments of the writing community I’m a part of. I feel lucky that I’ve been able to build a life that currently allows me to live in the Bay Area, surrounded by lovers and friends and reading groups and house readings and radical free schools and dance parties and various bodies of water.

You know when you take one of those Internet tours down memory lane? Most people I went to school with seem to have become doctors and lawyers and designers and dentists and parents. They have more schooling and better resumes than I do. I’m sure they consider themselves successful, and they should, so maybe my measure of success, and this seems like the case for many artists and writers, is different from the standard one. Maybe success should be measured by how well one fearlessly follows their heart. […]

Read more at SF Weekly’s The Write Stuff.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.