Vlad Savich: Kim, you have a Korean name and a Slavic last name. Who are you? Tell us a little about yourself.
Kim Vodicka: My first name is actually Kimberly, which is Old English, I believe. Vodicka, yes, is Czech. I can’t say I relate very strongly to my names and their heritage. I’m an American, after all. Though I did make some killer goulash and bread dumplings this past winter. I’m half Cajun French and grew up in south Louisiana, so I’m much more connected to those aspects of me, which are not displayed in my names. I’m 31. Female-identifying. No marriage, no kids. 5’4”. Size 10. C-cup bra. A natural blonde, though I dye my hair red. I’m a poet and wannabe comedian who currently lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee. Lately, I’ve been very sad.
VS: “I’ve been very sad.” I’m also sad because of the long winter and gray rainy spring. Why are you sad? Because of a creative crisis?
KV: I’m not having a creative crisis. A personal crisis? Yeah, sure. I had my heart broken last Tuesday and finished reading Melissa Broder’s The Pisces the next day, and the timing of this can only be explained as cosmic, even divine. I have never, ever, in all my days, of everything I’ve ever read and loved and identified with, in any genre, related more to a piece of literature. It’s about a woman who is addicted to love and intimacy and goes to “rehab” for it and falls in love with a mermaid while she’s there. On a deeper level, it’s a psychological and philosophical inquiry into romantic obsession. It basically ends with the merman asking her to go under the sea with him, to live forever, and after romanticizing that this might mean she’ll become a mythical sea creature, too, she realizes he’s actually asking her to die for him. He confesses to her that he’s done this to dozens of other women, and she realizes she’d rather stay alive and live with her existential hole/constant feelings of nothingness than be another casualty of his existence. And that her love for him was not pure love. She realizes she may not even be capable of love at all—that though she consistently chooses unavailable men, she is also unavailable and can’t truly commit because of fear. She realizes she’s probably not actually even looking for love at the heart of any of this. She doesn’t know what she’s looking for, and doesn’t know what will ever genuinely fill the void, but she accepts the void and chooses to continue living with it. In other words, the book is about me. I was in love with a myth, and it nearly killed me. I’ve realized I’m not looking for love so much as validation and purpose, and I will never achieve a stable sense of those things in the context of romance. I’m in the process of accepting this and trying to figure out how to move forward with my own gaping existential holes—no small task for one who has lifelong made the pursuit of love the center of her existence. It’s in everything I’ve ever written. So yeah. I’m sad. But hopefully heading toward recovery.
VS: Sadness, longing, despair, sweat, blood and tears. Are these things useful for the writer?
KV: Useful? I mean, they’re as old as love and writing itself. They’ve been played to death, but they’ll never not be potent. For me, I don’t really see it as a choice. I am who I am, and what I create is an extension of me. If I’m in a place of sadness, longing, and despair, which I often am, then that’s what you’re going to get on the page. Though I do try to make the bleakness funny and entertaining. Humor anesthetizes, but it also keeps me going. For instance, my depression and I baked a blueberry pie last night, and it was delicious. My ex (from several heartbreaks ago) was here and enjoyed it quite a bit.
VS: Which is better for an artist, a writer, a poet, a creative person: suffering or a happy life? What you would prefer from these two options?
KV: I resist the word “better” in this instance because it implies superiority or hierarchy when there is not necessarily a choice. Most creative people, it seems, have had shitty lives filled with misery. But there are plenty of happy people who have created brilliant things. Happiness and suffering are not mutually exclusive. People who live mostly happy lives have periods of suffering, and vice versa. As far as my personal tastes are concerned, I tend to gravitate toward work done by those who experience suffering as their default, and it’s because I relate to suffering much more than happiness. I do not, however, think suffering automatically leads to better work. It just happens to be prominent in much of the work I enjoy and create.
VS: What do you prefer: verbs, nouns, adjectives, pronouns or interjections?
KV: So it’s School House Rock time now. Hmm. Conjunction junction…unpack your adjectives! I’m not sure I have a preference, though I do get heavy-handed with the adverbs and gerunds.
I find it fascinating that some languages do not have conditional verb forms. There is no should, could, or would—they don’t exist at all—and it actually influences the way people think and behave. They don’t waste time dwelling on things. It creates a more active relationship to reality that us woebegone, existentially plighted navel gazers need.
VS: Who are you in the river of life?
KV: Without me, how would bottom feeders sustain life?
VS: “Sustain life?” D you think life is a theater or a circus? If it’s a theater, what role do you play? If it’s a circus, what kind of clown are you: good or evil?
KV: Life is a theater and a circus. I am a sad clown in both cases. They’re the same, really, in the sense that they both involve performance. The circus is just more ephemeral and “low culture” or whatever. When we’re in the company of anyone other than ourselves, we’re performing. That’s what a personality is—a performance. I am a sad clown, but I’m not evil. I’m not sure I’m good either. I’m definitely bad at being a clown. Look up “The Day the Clown Cried” if you really wanna see some shit.
VS: Do you write whatever you want or do you have internal censorship?
KV: No one writes whatever they want, even those who claim they aren’t holding back.
VS: What do you think about future of humanity?
KV: Well, you and I are clearly fucked. But humanity is fucked for sure. We blew it.
VS: Take a trip to the moon or win one million dollars in the lottery. What is your choice?
KV: A trip to the moon would normally be my first choice. Sounds awfully romantic, doesn’t it? But romance, quite frankly, is unsafe for me. A million dollars in the lottery would certainly be much more practical, though I doubt it would give me the same emotional drug-high as a trip to the moon, or romance. I may never recover, will I?
VS: When you fly to the moon, what book you will take with you?
KV: I’m not going to fly to the moon. I’m trying to do what’s best for me for a change. But I’d probably bring Sex & Rockets, the first book about Jack Parsons, since we would never have gotten to the moon without him.
VS: I love all genres of literature except for boring. What about you?
KV: I think it’s important to be bored. There’s way too much going on around us at all times, so many distractions, even hyper-stimulation can be boring, and really, most things in general are boring, but I do think boring literature has its place. There’s virtue in choosing to read a boring work. Nothing is actually even boring if you bring something to it. At any given time, you have the power to make things exciting. You are an active agent in the experience of any work.
VS: Literature written with a quill pen differs from literature written by a computer keyboard. What do you think about this?
KV: I think that’s true. I don’t know of anyone, currently, who writes their books by hand though. Do you?
VS: What sort of music do you listen to?
KV: I’ve had trouble listening to most music lately because of my depression. The only things I’ve been really able to stomach are big band swings, classical, cool jazz, and elevator music, basically. Normally, though, I listen to a wide range of things. Music is my favorite art form and the first thing I ever really loved. I particularly enjoy pretty much anything written/recorded in the ‘60s. Lots of punk and post-punk, too, and early industrial. ‘90s alternative/grunge gets me going. I’ve had the song “Wargasm” by L7 on repeat today, actually. I love rap and hip hop, too. Old blues and country are great. Some of my all-time favorite artists are the Butthole Surfers, Throbbing Gristle, Sly and the Family Stone, Kendrick Lamar, Lana Del Rey, Karen Dalton, and the Soft Boys. Quite the spectrum, I think.
VS: Who is your favorite character in the history of mankind?
KV: Hmm…this is a huge question, and the answer will surely change depending on my mood. Right now, I’d say Heathcliff, but ask me tomorrow, and I might say Pee Wee Herman.
VS: What would you like to change in your past and why?
KV: I don’t really find it productive to think about changing what is gone and done. I do think it’s useful to allow past actions/events to inform future behavior. Going forward, I want to be less fear-motivated than I have been in previous year, and less love-driven at every turn of my existence. I just want to be happy on my own terms, without worrying about who might be upset by it, or what disaster scenarios might take it away from me.
VS: Do you have a personal recipe for success? Tell us about it.
KV: I’m not a successful person, so no. It does seem that there’s at least some tinge of sociopathy and/or narcissism in the most successful of us though, isn’t there? At least when it comes to the forms of success that actually seem to matter to people, which are basically money and status. My recipe for success is surely disaster.
VS: What question would you like to answer for yourself, but you will never be asked?
KV: Questions about my work would be cool.
VS: Did you find joy in your life?
KV: I’m not dead yet, as far as I know. Life is still in progress. Joy hopefully forthcoming.
VS: Did your life bring joy to others?
KV: I don’t know. How many people were at my funeral?
VS: “I’m not dead yet.” What is death?
KV: I’m not really sure…a lack of vitality, soul, will, thoughtfulness…the loss of kindness and empathy? I think you can die alive, and I’m not sure it’s altogether different from Death Proper.
VS: Tell me, please, are your books worthy of reading?
VS: What books do you advise your reader to read?
VS: Tell us about a funny moment from your life that happened lately.
KV: I got internationally stood up on a two-week date.
VS: What would you never do in your life?
KV: Adopt any belief system that might somehow require me to live it again.
Kim Vodicka: Poet. Nihilist. Spokesbitch of a Degeneration. See more at kimvodicka.com. 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.