Vlad Savich: Dear readers. Today, my interlocutor is C.C. Hannett. I could tell you about him, but it would be better if he told us about himself. C.C. Hannett, tell us a little bit about yourself.
C.C. Hannett: It’s rather complicated, really. Partly due to external force and self-imposition. Without going sad-happy with too many personal details or pasting a copy of my bio I’ll try another route. Currently, I publish under the name C. C. Hannett / kmwgh / Kris Hall. At first, I liked the idea of activating these aliases separately but I have an addiction to the absurd so I’ve decided to lump them together. I have three books placed with Spuyten Duyvil, two of which are set in a multi-verse within a celestial colon. When I am not pretending to focus on mundane work tasks at a medical clinic, I edit the Instagram press Really Serious Literature (@rlysrslit). We publish miniature chapbooks that expire after 96 hours. In the physical realm, I organize QUAKE: An Everett Lit Walk and Poetry: Uncharted and assist with minor curating responsibilities over at Poetry Laboratory in Everett, WA. I have nine siblings, three middle names, two cats, one dog, and a hilarious psychologist for a wife.
VS: “I have nine siblings”. It this true? If so then it is an incredible truth. How did you live among such a huge number of children? You have to write a novel about it.
CCH: Boring and short answer: I didn’t. If they weren’t fully grown with children of their own, they lived with my Dad in California. Ironically, I was mostly an only child. Some of this is detailed in my book Triune.
VS: “Is detailed in my book Triune”. It should be interesting. What other themes of your works? What are you still writing about?
CCH: Perceived realities. The gods we build with our minds and the prism of self. I enjoy making monsters out of mountains made of molehills. No, but really, a major theme is accountability and reconstituting the rotten things in one’s own history. A hunt for catharsis. Release. This political and social climate is pulling it out of all of us. It’s an seemingly inescapable. Everywhere. If you’re the creative sort, you’re going to hunt for an outlet. Right now, I’m working on another installment inside the celestial colon. Less introspective and more surreal. Often I want to break away from it but over the last year I’ve given it too much fuel for thought. When you enmesh the real and the imaginary, it’s hard to avoid the possibilities you can engage.
VS: What would you call your creativity? Realism, surrealism, magical realism?
CC: I’d say it’s rooted in all three, honestly. There are elements of horror and science fiction as well. You can’t just eat pizza, you gotta peel a slice from a pizza mountain. You gotta chase those arugula fairies and fend off sauce yetis and contemplate the validity of what you feel about your sexuality. Slipstream into your disappointment about why you didn’t make it a cheesesteak mountain and when, inevitably, that giant earthquake that’s bound to destroy all of Seattle is actually going to hit. Will I be on the toilet when this happens? Gonzo meets bizarro without sounding annoying about it. But probably still annoying.
VS: “But probably still annoying”. What annoys you in your work and in your life?
CCH: The long, incisional cut of time. I am extremely impatient with the development process. The waiting has to be a necessary aspect; a logical, spelled-out bureaucracy, otherwise I can become obsessive and impulsive, question the need or reliability of the choice I’ve selected. I’ve gotten better along the way, but the route of the minimalist has always proven the correct path, for me, in most of my projects. Probably has to do with my anxiety. It makes it easier to churn out work and to invite collaboration. When you overthink the construction and/or design of the narrative web, you lose out on opportunity. That is not to say I don’t appreciate and crave challenge and stock, it’s just that when I order a package from Amazon and I’ve paid for Prime 2-Day Delivery and it hasn’t arrived on the estimated due-date, Jeff Bezos better believe I’m going to be tying up three different customer service representatives with the status of my order. Also, I cannot stand overpriced Bahn Mi.
VS: When you start writing, do you know the ending of your work or is it quantum entanglement?
CCH: Depends on the endgame. Am I writing a stand-alone or am I planning to write a collection? For singular pieces, my approach is based on a general ~feeling~ or a stupid, despondent epiphany “melting gloss” draped over a line I am fond of. For bigger projects, I plan out “tracks” and will search for an aesthetic I can place myself in with reading and listening material until the path feels correct. I will deviate from this particular set up many times, but the innards remain recognizable. Drafts are done on my phone and edits are practiced at home.
VS: Is there a difference between a writer and a graphomaniac?
CCH: Graphomania and hypergraphia are mental conditions in which the subject either has a precocious desire to write or draw, while the former rambles in an illegible, incoherent mess—much like the way I’ve conducted my answers here! Ha! But, yes, there is a difference between the two. Or not. I suppose it depends on the tastemaker’s characterization of quality. A person may be compelled to obsessively journal their everyday experiences and thoughts to summon that ever-trending mindfulness (or validate their skewed observations of the world around them, much like Arthur Crew Inman), which, to me, is simply performing the act of writing. You can be thrilled and creepily entertained by the transfer of your own thoughts to page, but where is it going? What’s the game you’re playing with yourself? In the words of Jennifer Love Hewitt, What are you waiting for!?
VS: Do books influence world development?
CCH: Well, yeah. Though I’m not impressed with the current product of their influence.
VS: “I’m not impressed”. You don’t like modern society, do you?
CCH: We live in an age where I can freely quote a meme I think we all identify with: The best part of being a flight attendant has to be when you walk the aisle saying “trash” to everyone’s face.
VS: “Trash” to everyone’s face.” For this, everyone has a weapon. An example being the last shooting in California. “Happiness is a warm gun”. What do you think about this?
CCH: I can understand the desire to protect one’s self. This world, when it wants to announce its coldness to you, is against your survival, both physically and administratively. However, my right to own a gun shouldn’t infringe on the safety of others. I can’t understand the refusal to re-examine a position, to even budge an inch, to protect and possibly derail another massacre. Even if it doesn’t work, at least we can say we made a significant, worthwhile attempt. It requires a tremendous amount of schooling to save the life of a person injured by another person who’d brandished a tool they legally purchased, designed and crafted with the sole purpose of killing another human being, and that tool required no true schooling at all. I’ve become desensitized to a certain degree and not because it keeps happening but that the moment the debate is reignited, the opposition claims hyperbole and points the finger at something else. It’s ridiculous.
VS: What do you think a birdsong is in artwork?
CCH: The darkness subsides! A birdsong in any form of art, to me, is what resonates with your specific audience. Authentic, musical spermatozoa! What catches the senses you are fishing for with bits that most represent you. When looking at the work, if the creator doesn’t recognize certain dimples in its features, it should feel alien. There may be a universal chord, or it may look like an indecipherable code, but for whomever it’s made for, it should be a recognized inseam in both the woven shit of entertainment and the untapped experience of “the other”. Renditions are okay, too. It’s all subjective anyway
VS: Does literature have any purpose or is it pure art?
CCH: The purpose of literature is dependent on the individual goals of the writer and reader, simultaneously. This is the value and curse of outside interpretation. Some work may seem like pedestrian garbage to me but it can also serve as one of many sparks to another writer who may kick my ass in that department. Still recognized as pedestrian garbage, however they may have found a suitable use in their gleaning.
VS: Are there themes from your life you will never write about?
CCH: I couldn’t say. There have definitely been personal experiences and past relationships I’ve made attempts to write about but found them either too draining emotionally or I discovered I still cling to certain biases that I would need to pry myself from before I could successfully build an honest narrative.
VS: The founder of the Russian Communist Party, V Lenin said, “That of all the arts the most important for us is the cinema.” Which type of art is the most important for you personally?
CCH: Poetics. We debate its legitimacy, debate its importance, and continue to declare it brain and pulse dead, yet in the last five years it has proven itself a powerful cannon in the discussion of politics, social justice, the #metoo movement, mental health, and trauma. Experimental and visual poetry have also evolved. Look at Inside the Castle! The meme and GIF life is crazy, man. Poetry has become increasingly malleable and as fascinating and seemingly indestructible as Edgar the Cockroach (Men in Black).
VS: Which letters do you like more: vowels or consonants? What do you prefer: questions or exclamations?
CCH: I like Pink Turns Blue. A darkwave band I listen to while I wash dishes and rake leaves.
VS: “I wash dishes”. What is your favorite dish?
CCH: Favorite to wash? Ladle. Favorite to eat? Philly Cheesesteak.
VS: Do you think watches that cost $30 and watches that cost $300 show the same time?
CCH: Are both watches set for the same time and in the same room? Synchronized to the second? Are both watches working? Are either of them submerged in water? If not water, sour cream? What are the conditions and brands of the watches? Are the watches in separate dimensions? Is one of the watches just a picture of a watch falsely set for the same time as the other watch? Since I am generally late to almost everything, I don’t think I’d even really pay that much attention. But, depending on the situation, yes & no.
VS: Poet and time. Does time change a poet or a poet change time?
CCH: Often, poets don’t change at all. A time traveling poet might be cool, though. Like, a poet that travels to different periods and submits work to all the publishers that’ve ever existed to establish where their voice is most appreciated. Maybe they visit Keats.
VS: Do you change the world with your poetry?
CCH: If I do, I’m oblivious to the evidence. The only thing I change, or try to change, with my poetry and writing in general is the laws of experience. Denture the heart.
VS: After a hundred years, will your poems still be readable?
CCH: As much as I would enjoy having a bust of myself sitting on some scholar’s mantle, I’d gladly settle for the role of the recondite footnote. Or, like, nothing at all. If some of my poems maintain readability and are somehow recognized as timeless work a hundred years from now, I would be highly suspicious of the intelligence wielded against it, including its interpretations. Much of my work comes from a very personal place and I have a very complicated life. A surreal and childlike disposition. I don’t say this to boast or act like I’m some cool, enigmatic figure—I have simply lived a very confusing life. My disposition is whack. The question is: will my observations and the language used to detail gain marketability 100 hundred years from now? Read Bryan Edenfield or Moss Hope Angel. Read Kenning JP Garcia, Russell Jaffe or Amber Nelson. Read Anthony Robinson, Scherezade Siobhan or Mike Kleine. Jessie Janeshek. Read me, too, whenever the feeling suits you.
VS: Is a writer a profession or a pleasant pastime?
CCH: “Great! I’ve written something stupid, but I haven’t signed a contract with anyone to produce solely wise and perfect works. I gave vent to my stupidity…and here I am, reborn.” – Gombrowitty (aka Witold Gombrowicz)
VS: If I ask you, are you a good poet?, how will you answer me?
CCH: I don’t really know how I even classify, personally, what a “good poet” is. My tastes vary and contradict each other, which makes it difficult for me to say. Maybe it’s best to provide a sample of work to allow both you and the readers at Queen Mob’s Teahouse to make the distinction. This is American Idol and you are my Simon Cowell!
aren’t you tired of world building;
the hammock’s bearing boulders
— rip-torn meniscus
then may I ask why? why more?
wait for the results
to forge fission! sterile cuts!
wrists free, no cuffs
so you eat with your toes now?
does that work for you?
my foot befriended my mouth
a long time ago
you are confident you can tame your feed?
I am confident I will tame my feed
VS: Did poetry originate from the economic poverty of society or from the economic wealth of society?
CCH: When I think of the oldest works, the epics, the poet builds the god, fawns over the god, and brutalizes the god with mortal defects. Their actions are generally vile and acted out rather casually. Perhaps a way to make sense of the tribulations one endures under poverty and to justify or render the cruel nature of the wealthy and powerful as normal under the order of things. If I speak from that realm, I’d say it’s a little of both.
VS: Thanks for the interview. What do you want to wish our readers?
CCH: A turkey without salmonella and fire/smog-free zones. Also, submissions are now open at Really Serious Literature (Insta: @rlysrslit). Check us out and send a thing! Thanks again for having me!
Vlad* Savich was born in the USSR, where he was educated, married and fathered his daughter. As soon as the chance appeared to leave, he did. At present he lives in Montreal, where he writes, directs for the theatre and breathes the air of freedom. He can be found online at savich.lit.com.ua.
*He prefers not to be called Vladimir, so as not to be associated with the disreputable activity of a certain barnardine Russian leader.