DiscoverVerse: Nolan Natasha + I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?

April 1, 2020

All Lit Up DiscoverVerse kicks off with poet Nolan Natasha whose funny, compelling debut collection I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? (Invisible Publishing) takes on gender, identity, and human connection in the modern age. We virtually chatted with Nolan Natasha about completing a debut collection, slowing down, poetry prompts, and his own Choose Your Own Adventure story. Read on for that and the poem "Queer" from his collection.

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During the month of April, you can buy any of  our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off (+ we'll send you a set of three poetry bookmarks so you'll always find your place.)

 

 

 

An Interview with Nolan Natasha

 

All Lit Up: What did you learn writing I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?

Nolan Natasha: I had been writing poetry for so long and I guess I realized that finishing a poetry collection is different than just writing until you have enough poems. The work of laying out the poems so that they speak to each other and deciding what poems feel relevant to the whole collection and which ones don’t belong was its own creative work. It forced me to look at my poems in a new way. I think sometimes I write without really taking a step back from the work and looking at it from the outside. Putting the collection together forced me to do that and I think it was really good for my writing.

 

ALU: If you were a character in a Choose Your Own Adventure story, what kind of quest would you be on? What three things would you have with you on your journey?

NN: When I was a kid I was constantly pretending that I was Robin Hood. Sadly, my attraction to the fantasy as a kid had less to do with stealing from the rich and giving to the poor than it did with being an ace with a bow and arrow and living in the trees. So I suppose I would be on some kind of forest quest where I got to wear a “cool” hat. For my three items I have to go with a walkie-talkie, a notebook, and a dollar store bow and arrow with suction cup tips.

 

ALU: Where do you draw inspiration from outside of poetry?

NN: I feel like I have a really hard time slowing down, but it is always in the moments that I do that I wind up paying close enough attention to the moment to get a poem out of it. Walking home at night from somewhere with headphones on is something I did constantly in my twenties and almost never do now. But every time I do it, it amazes me how much it puts me on a different frequency (even if I’m not tipsy with an unrequited crush like I was for much of my twenties). Partially it’s the music, but it’s definitely also about slowing down enough to notice what’s around you. The light and the air and the things I’m feeling behind all the static once I actually pay attention.

 

ALU: Help us with a poetry prompt for our readers. Can you come up with a writing prompt for our readers to write their own poetry?

NN: One of my favourite writing prompts that I was ever given was to pick a colour. Something around you that you can look at and ask yourself questions about it…

What does it taste like? What kind of day did it have? What does it sound like? Where is it going?...basically anything that you can think of. It really helps me shake off my literal brain and get my weirdo poet brain churning.

 

 

A poem from I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me?

 

 

Queer

It’s not just that it means one thing
written in heavy books
from the university press and another in your mouth
as an answer and another on the stall door and another
hurled from a car on that Saturday in the spring,
on posters that grip telephone poles
promising a good party—

it's something that argues with its own construction,
restless and glistening and grimy,
takes issue with the sentences of this poem. 

In that bar on Queen Street, words and little pictures
etched by greasy fingers in the red plastic coating
on the candles. Drawings, obscene
and tender decorating the dark tables,
flickering into the establishment turned
home. The living room of our twenties and thirties.
We will dance and be sick,
sweat and stumble into each other’s vacancies. 

The way our bathrooms feel dirty is different
than the bars with the big-screen TVs—soccer piss
and sweat is not the same.
Does this recital filter down to our bodily fluids,
or is there some smoke and mirrors
that causes his hands, but not his, to feel that way on my hips?         
I am asking this sincerely.
Does the air only feel this way
because of some lesson in breathing?

Because of some lesson in breathing?
does the air only feel this way
I am asking this sincerely.
That causes his hands, but not his, to feel that way on my hips? 
Or is there some smoke and mirrors,
does this recital filter down to our bodily fluids,
and sweat is not the same.
Than the bars with the big-screen TVs—soccer piss
the way our bathrooms feel dirty is different,

sweat and stumble into each other’s vacancies.
We will dance and be sick,
home. The living room of our twenties and thirties.
Flickering into the establishment turned
and tender decorating the dark tables.
On the candles. Drawings, obscene,
etched by greasy fingers in the red plastic coating
in that bar on Queen Street, words and little pictures

takes issue with the sentences of this poem. 
Restless and glistening and grimy.
It's something that argues with its own construction.

Promising a good party—
on posters that grip telephone poles
hurled from a car on that Saturday in the spring,
as an answer and another on the stall door and another
from the university press and another in your mouth
written in heavy books—
it’s not just that it means one thing.

 

 

 

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Nolan Natasha

Nolan Natasha is a queer and trans writer. He has been a finalist for the CBC poetry prize, the Ralph Gustafson Poetry prize, the Geist postcard contest, and the Thomas Morton fiction prize. Nolan Natasha’s debut poetry collection, I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? was released in the fall of 2019 with Invisible Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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During the month of April, you can buy I Can Hear You, Can You Hear Me? and any of our featured DiscoverVerse books for 20% off! PLUS: FREE shipping!

Keep up with us all month on   Twitter,   Instagram, and   Facebook with the hashtag #ALUdiscoververse.

 

BONUS:

Play our Choose Your Own Poetry game where YOU are the narrator! Choose from multiple paths on the way to one ultimate goal: visiting your local bookstore to browse poetry. As you move through the story you will find poetry books to collect in your tote bag. There are a total of 36 poetry books to discover across the various paths with 12 possible endings. Which poetry collections will you find on your path?

Playing time: 1-2 minutes per path. To play, click the link below to start the download. 

 

DiscoverVerse: Choose Your Own Poetry Game 

 

 


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