Online Culture Has Overthrown Everything: An Interview with Nadia de Vries

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Your book titles evoke a kind of immediate life cycle. Was this a plan from the start? Tell me a bit on the process of how each of these books came to be what they are now.

I had no idea at all. I published First Communion, my first book, as a sort of cry for attention from my bedroom to the outside world. I just wanted other writers to find me.

R.I.P. Nadia de Vries was much more elaborate in terms of preparation. I knew I wanted to write a second book pretty soon after FC came out, and I had just become obsessed with taking selfies. I had also become very ill. I used Instagram to document my illness in an over-the-top kind of way, putting on a different persona for each selfie. I wrote poems to go with the selfies, which ended up becoming R.I.P. Nadia de Vries.

Do you find it important that a greater amount of writers self-publish their own work? Or is it more of a personal choice?

For me it was more of a necessity, because there were not that many venues available to me. I am a Dutch poet living in the Netherlands, a country with a strong literary tradition, but I write in English, and therefore I am an outsider. In America, I am a foreigner. I knew that I had to self-publish my work so that people could find me, and that I could become part of a community. That is why my first book is called First Communion. I am very grateful to have found my community now, and that I can publish poems and meet wonderful people, and travel.

I think self-publication is a beautiful thing because it offers very few constraints to the poet. Self-publication allows you to design and format a book the way you want it to, use the medium and materials of your own choosing, as well as the means of production and distribution. You become very aware of the object that you are making. But it is important to be part of a community, and for that reason I think it can be quite valuable to be published by another person.

You have a stark minimalism, I feel, that sets you apart from quite a few poets. Has the style that appears in your books something that has been with you for a long time? What are some of your influences?

Luna Miguel’s “Museum of Cancers” comes to mind. Darcie Dennigan’s “In The Bakery.” I am a huge fan of Chelsey Minnis, too.

I have always liked short poetry. I have a very short attention span and it brings me comfort to compartmentalize my thoughts into something smaller, kinder.

Tell me about the poetry scene in Amsterdam, and how art is handled in the Netherlands on a broad scale. Is it any different from how you think it is treated in America?

Amsterdam is more casual, homely. New York City is cruel.

What exactly is Sisternhood? Is this a sign of something more massive down the line?

Sisternhood is an anthology that I have been working on for about a year now. The book features poetry by six female European writers and artists, myself included, and focuses specifically on how the Internet has affected our own lives and languages — how we have become infused with American culture, despite not being American at all.

I feel a great dissonance between my nationality and my creative work. I am unable to write poetry in my native tongue, and have never read any Dutch literature. My parents are both Dutch and don’t speak English at all, so none of this makes any sense. Online culture has overthrown everything. I noticed similar sentiments in some poet friends of mine, and I decided to curate an anthology so that I could facilitate these feelings in a communal and productive manner. Sisternhood’s contributors consist of five women that I admire tremendously, and I am very happy to share that the anthology will be released in New York, in November of this year.

I recently read that you go on record to say that the best thing for writers is not to be famous, but to be found, and that was incredibly moving for me. In a philosophical sense, do you think there exists anything more temporary and unimportant as fame?

Youthfulness.

What are some other projects you have planned in your future, if any?

I am currently writing the third and final installment of my Holy Trilogy, entitled Pain in Translation. The book is slated for a spring 2017 release.

I also hope to publish a PDF-based academic text in 2018.

Lastly, please mention some ways we can support you.

Be emotionally generous to writers and artists that come from a different background. Honor the safety of women, and promote intersectionality — don’t let one type of woman tear another woman down. Offer platforms to writers and artists that do not have a lot of social capital. These things do not serve me exclusively, of course, but they are very important to me.

On a far more trivial level, you can help me buy groceries by purchasing one of my books here.

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Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

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