The Honesty You Have To Entertain: An Interview with Amanda Dissinger

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How does the creation of your Ghost City Press mini-chapbook I’m Fine, I’m Fine, I Think I’m Fine compare to making your debut poetry book This Is How I Will Tell You I Love You?

My first book was really choosing poems from six years of writing with a similar theme- mostly love and relationship poems and poems from when I was ages 18-23 mostly. My new mini-chapbook had a lot of newer poems which I think showed a different perspective while also keeping the same kind of voice that I’ve created in my poetry- very stream of consciousness, raw, emotional, etc. The mini-chapbook really came up randomly- I saw the amazing work that Kevin at Ghost City was doing and a lot of my favorite poets were signed on to release a mini book and I really wanted to a part of it so I sat down and went through a lot of recent unreleased poems and put together 8 or 9 that I thought worked really well together and told a story.

You previously referred to yourself as the “Taylor Swift of poetry.” Do you feel that pop culture plays a major role in your writing process? What celebrities do you have a shred of respect for? Do you feel that at least touching upon the lives of the famous is an imperative in art, let alone poetics?

I don’t sit down or write and think about pop culture but I find that I get a lot of ideas of lines or themes of poems while I’ll walking around listening to music or I’m on twitter looking at celebrity news or something like that. For example, my poem “Tabloid Depression” was based on that US Weekly column that’s been running for years about 25 Things You Don’t Know about some random celebrity that usually turn out to be incredibly obvious and not worth reading at all.

I can’t really think of any celebrities that I’m obsessed with but I do love pop music and so I’m a big fan of Carly Rae Jepsen, Gwen Stefani, Beyoncé of course, and I have a large amount of respect for what I consider to be “poetry” celebrities like Sarah Kay, Anis Mojgani, Derrick Brown, all of the Write Bloody poets, Amber Tamblyn, etc. Amber Tamblyn’s last book of poetry I think did a really good job of combining the ideas of art and poetry but usually I don’t think about the idea of celebrity when writing poetry or reading in general.

Your work not only chronicles the female experience, but also stands as a monument of unbridled and incredible sincerity. Is this second aspect a major component of your philosophy? What else would you urge people to keep in mind when considering life?

I would say that I find it hard to not be incredibly genuine in all of my interactions and especially my writing. I write most of the time to get things and situations and feelings about people or events out of me and to make myself feel more stable and okay and in this, I usually present things in the most true to myself way possible. As a person too I find it pretty hard to be fake or to try to be anything I’m not. I don’t think I’m an expert on life (at all/under any circumstances), but I always try to be kind and consider other people’s feelings, probably too much.

In the spirit of your writing, rather than a general list of literary influences, give me a play-by-play of how your interest in pursuing writing as a means of expressing yourself grew, and how your influences came into the grand scheme of things.

I first started writing and reading poetry when I was 17 years old in my Senior Year HS creative writing class in Hershey, PA (p.s. shout out to Mrs. Reinert). It wasn’t a natural thing at all, I just started reading Elizabeth Bishop and Sylvia Plath and learning about the different forms that poems can take and being required to experiment with all of them and really enjoying free verse poems and forms. I didn’t really start writing frequently and using it to express myself until I was in college in New York City. I once again took a creative writing class in my sophomore year and had to write poems and short stories and scenes and soon after the class ending I found myself continuing to scribble down little phrases or paragraphs on anything I could find. Honestly, I didn’t really ever make a decision at any point to be a poet, I just started writing and couldn’t stop.

How did you get involved in Terrorbird Media? Elaborate a little about what the organization does and its social media presence.

Terrorbird’s a great music marketing company that I’ve worked with for three + years. I started interning my last semester in college after working in music in some capacity throughout my first three college years and I was lucky enough to be offered a job right before I graduated. I’ve been a full time publicist at the Brooklyn/LA based company for two years- we work with independent labels and musicians on gaining publicity, radio promotion and film/TV placements for their music, and it’s a really close knit family atmosphere. No matter what, we really only work with artists and music we love and believe in and we try to convey those ideas across the board from our interactions with clients to our social media presence.

(p.s. CHECK US OUT ON INSTAGRAM! WE COOL!)

Tell me more about your new collection releasing early next year. Are there any overlapping themes between this effort and your other two earlier publications? Due to the tonal shift between book titles you have evoked earlier, is there going to be a natural progression through an overarching concept of achieving and studying the effects of intimacy?

I really thing the mini chapbook I released this summer was kind of the middle between two extremes. My first collection I considered more youthful and more centered on love and how different people and relationships changed me. The new collection is more about overarching themes and events in my life, which I’m excited about. There are definitely poems about relationships because I can’t not write about that, but there’s also poems about family, friends, loneliness, health problems, fear, etc. I think it really showed me that I don’t have to limit myself to any one concept or idea or even style of writing. The new collection definitely discusses more about intimacy but also about the honesty that you have to entertain when dealing with yourself and how you think about yourself in relation to the world.

Any other upcoming projects, perhaps an album?

Haha, an album would be awesome. I’m actually working on a concert special right now though!*

How can we offer support to you as an artist and as a person?

Just keep reading if you like what I write! That will always mean the world to me.

*jk jk

Interview conducted by Jordan Hoxsie.

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