Lindsey Boldt on Returning to the Dark, Wet, Green Sludge
Lindsey Boldt is a poet, performer and editor, born out of the wilds and muds of Olympia, Washington. She is the author of <((🌀))> (2016), Titties for Lindsey (2013), and Overboard (2012). Poems, essays, and other writings can be found at Art Practical, The Drunken Boat, and in the forthcoming ON Contemporary Poetics: New Narrative Feature. She also writes and performs plays, songs and other performative outbursts, including audio commentary for the 1993 movie “The Pelican Brief” (forthcoming from Troll Thread). She has been an editor for The Post-Apollo Press, the chapbook series, Summer BF Press, and is currently Managing Editor of Nightboat Books. She lives in Oakland, California with her sweetheart and two cats.
Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.
I am alone. I’m not wearing any clothes. I’m covered in dirt and leaves. I’m in a highly altered state. I can see through time. I no longer need to breathe, but I do because it feels good. I can see through my hands. I can see through the trees. I’m enjoying myself. Everything is fine.
Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?
Susie Jacobs, my mother’s mother’s mother was a “water witch”, also known as a dowser. When neighboring farmers in Springfield, Illinois needed to dig a well, they called Susie. My mother told me this over the phone one day. She said, “Maybe you inherited some of her sensitivities,” and I began to make more sense to myself.
Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?
Like most kids in the 90’s, I loved Michael Jordan. For Christmas either in 1992 or 1993 I made my dad a portrait of Michael Jordan in oil pastels.
What is art? Is it necessary? Why?
Art is a physical process, so not really optional. For me, it used to be all about expectoration. I went through my day collecting all kinds of garbage energy, and then at some point, I had to get it out of my body so I wrote poems. Unsurprisingly, most of the poems from that time are full of images of shit, piss, vomit, phlegm and blood.
The work of artists is to tune ourselves like instruments to be receptive but also to choose the frequencies with which we want to work and to block those we don’t.
We are not pure channels. We are filters. Energy runs through us and bounces off our internal architecture. Mostly, it’s our job to show up, maintain good boundaries, clear the channel and get out of the way. Then, we can choose to tidy up afterwards and make whatever came through look more or less like a poem or a story or whatever. Sometimes I think I should do less tidying.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?
I may have slipped into a parallel universe as a child. Shortly after my dad died in 1994, I noticed a few changes. The music store where I took piano lessons was now located on the other side of the street. A barn on a neighbor’s property now faced away from the street, as if it had turned 90 degrees. When I mentioned these changes, no one else agreed that things had ever been different. This terrified me. I thought I was either going crazy or that I had somehow slipped into another dimension, which would mean that my mother wasn’t my real mother and my friends weren’t my real friends. I became very upset and could not be consoled. Eventually, I just gave up on figuring it out and decided to accept things as they were. Ever since, I have felt skeptical of reality. This is the basis for my book, Overboard, which is also a retelling of the movie “Overboard” starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Have you seen it? It’s very good.
How many times do you fall in love each day?
A better question would be, “How many times a day do you have to consciously decide that you are in fact alive and not dreaming or possibly dead?”
When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?
I usually try watching videos of cats or baby animals, but when I go super dark, I usually lay on the couch with a blanket over my head. Sometimes, it helps to listen to The Melvins. I’m from Olympia, Washington, where it rains three-fourths of the year, so I feel most comfortable when I can return to the source, which for me is dark, wet, green sludge. Sometimes I need to bathe in it to feel normal again.
What’s wrong with society today?
Honestly, Evan. How can a person answer this without sounding like a
I would like to see energetics taught in school, but I would also like to see the end of school.
What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?
Some day I would like to edit the unpublished journals of Hannah Weiner. I want to find out how and when Weiner’s clairvoyant experiences began and how she understood and interpreted them. Hannah Weiner was a poet and clairvoyant who saw colors, words and phrases.Her book, The Fast, documents a period of a few weeks during which Weiner struggled against an onslaught of various energies that she saw as colors: pink, blue, red, green, purple. When the energies/colors touched her body they caused her extreme physical and psychic pain.
Weiner describes one day, her birthday, which she spent attempting to cross from one side of the room to the other by wrapping her feet in paper towels and pink ribbons to protect her feet from harmful energies on the floor. I would love to translate that scene into a dance piece.
I don’t mean to exoticize her suffering. I relate to it and also to Weiner’s impulse to document the lived experience of energetic phenomena and to treat that work as an extension of her previous art practice, which it was. Weiner doesn’t dress up her experiences or try to dissimulate. She asks her reader to accept her reality.
What are you working on right now?
I just published a chapbook called, <((🌀))> with Couch Press in August that I’m very proud of. I’m not sure if you can print the title. It’s a series of symbols that cannot be spoken or easily typed but can be texted to someone with a phone. It’s about politics and dreams and channeling and dead people, and channeling dead people. I hope you like it.
I am also working on a series of poems about being depressed. I have always been depressive, or existentially bored, or both, but rarely allow myself to embrace it. I now see the experience of depression as the distortion of a skill that has lost its context. That’s not to say that it is not painful or frightening, just that it is also perhaps useful. This past winter, I was experiencing one of my depressions and my sweetheart, Steve, suggested I try writing the most depressing poems I could think of. Nothing else seemed to help, so I tried it. As soon as I wrote a poem, I felt better and could laugh at the poems, so I kept writing them. What resulted were some very dark but also very funny poems. When I have enough of them, I’ll put together a book called, Some Ennui. Here’s an example:
That Passing Feeling When
you want to die
but what you really
want is to stop feeling
that nasty ache
in your chest
that lets you know
all is not well
and eating right
and brewing herbs
and living simply
and having a nap
isn’t relieving it
and neither does
the sensory deprivation tank
it is in fact just
and you yourself are
an energy healer
and yet the ache
is dull and painless
and yet impossible
and that trance journey
revealed little besides
the intricacy of things
and their unending
and your questions
just led to more questions
and the Gods don’t know
but what they do show you
has little bearing on
life lived in a body
within the bounds
of space & time
it is of course intriguing
and beautiful but
also impossible to
still maintaining the
gravitas and wonder
you experienced as it
was revealed to you
as drawn by an energy
best described as
through your own hand
Photo of the author by Ebtihal Shedid