First off, what’s your favorite Christmas movie? Does Die Hard count?
Anyone who says Die Hard doesn’t count has lost the spark of whimsy in their life. That being said, my favorite holiday movie is the original, animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, go watch it, then try to tell me that slowly unfurling smile doesn’t give you goosebumps. Try not to sing along with the husky bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft in “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Fun fact: he’s also the original voice of Tony the Tiger, and if you don’t think that’s a fun fact, you’ve also lost your spark.
I’m honestly blown away by interlucent. My favorite poems are “freeze frame” and “summer ‘20.” How did you go about putting this chapbook together? At what point were you like, yeah, I have something here?
Thank you so much! Early reception to interlucent has been so positive that I’m in shock, to be honest. I battled self-doubt and impostor syndrome every step of the way in creating this chap, and I don’t think creators talk enough about that for fear of being seen as weak. When you’re considered an “emerging writer,” like I and many others are, it’s easy to diminish your accomplishments or think you’re not worthy of praise. That’s patently wrong.
I wrote this chap in fits and starts, spurred on by the encouragement and support of my peers. You need folks in your corner to let you know that you can do this. You can go with your gut and write the poems you want to write. I’m very lucky to have many writer-friends on Twitter and beyond; the online lit community has been the defining factor of my motivation. Now that my chap is done, I couldn’t tell you how I did it, beyond that friendship and solidarity. It was a massive, exhausting effort. But I know I can replicate the process with my peers by my side!
Side note: “freeze frame” and “summer ’20” are a few of my favorites, too. They were my first foray into prose poetry, a genre I’ve been nervous about for a while, as I write mainly prose in my spare time (gasp!). I wasn’t sure if I could make a prose poem “poetic enough,” but once I let go of that insecurity, I found myself so pleased with the product. If there’s a moral to that story, it’s this: WRITE IT ANYWAY.
I think I saw that you’re into the game Animal Crossing. How’s your village doing these days? Please tell me that it’s still thriving.
Ah, that’s so funny! I get this question a lot, but I’ve never played Animal Crossing a day in my life. I play Stardew Valley, which is essentially AC with less of a real-life time commitment! I’m horrible at games that make you log in at certain times or days of the week (failed-at-Mystic Messenger squad, where are y’all at?), since my sleep schedule falls somewhere between “abysmal” and “nonexistent.”
My SV farm is thriving; thank you very much! I play a Riverland farm type, which means lots of fishing… and not a lot of farming. As a lazy would-be farmer, this is ideal for me, and gives me plenty of time to pursue the eligible bachelorettes of Pelican Town. (If anyone reading this is also a Haley-loving lesbian, please hit me up. And tell me the hack to find her more coconuts.)
Okay serious question, now: what’s the last TV show you binged? Was it any good?
Oh boy. I have despicable taste in television, so my “good” is not most people’s “good.” However, this show is just too fun to binge, no matter who you are: Logo TV’s Finding Prince Charming (2016). It’s basically the Bachelor, but with an entirely gay (male) cast and black ties instead of roses. It’s outrageously entertaining, but also poignant and insightful. You’ll laugh, you’ll definitely cry (bring some tissues from episode 5 onward), and you’ll have a great time. Just remember to make some popcorn and get comfy, because you won’t leave the couch for ten hours.
If you could choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what song would you choose and why?
I’ve always said my walk-up song if I were a professional baseball player would be St. Vincent’s “The Antidote,” and I think that answer holds here. To head off any judgments: yes, this song is from the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, and I have zero shame about that fact. (If it weren’t this song, it’d be Muse’s “Supermassive Black Hole” from the first movie’s baseball scene, which invented cinema.)
Gimme the deets on your writing process. Mine is so chaotic and I literally have no set schedule. What about you?
I don’t have a set schedule either. Unemployment gives me more time to write, but with perhappened and classes, it’s not as easy to find the hours as you’d think! Plus, there are a few factors that have to be in place for me to write well: temperature, scent, and noise level. I’m heat-sensitive, always have been. Cold days are a much better writing environment for me! I like to have just showered & have candles lit when I write, just because nice smells help me calm down and focus. Finally, if we’re having yard work or road repairs done, it’s a wash. I need quiet or consistent background noise, like a TV or ambient music.
I prefer writing in Google Docs over Microsoft Word. The autosave feature is key for me, as is the ease of retrieving and seeing the documents you have in progress. There are certainly formatting restrictions with Docs that make Word more versatile, though! I type all my notes, phrases, and vague concepts for the piece out in a rush, then slowly assemble them like a puzzle. Once I have a first draft, I begin line edits, the most relaxing phase of the process to me. After I feel a piece is ready to be sent out, I’ll run it past a few friends, then send it out for submissions that night or the next morning! I waste no time.
If you had a time machine, would you travel to the future or back to the past?
The future scares me, but so does the past. I don’t know! I think I’d travel to, like, 2007? I’d probably just go to the mall. Oh! Or back to 2010, so I could be there the first time the Giants won the World Series. I wanna put money on it and get rich.
Finally, the good people on Twitter wanna know: do you have any new projects that you’re excited about? Any upcoming themes for perhappened that you wanna spill the beans on? Thanks again for doing this!
I have two projects in the works right now: a full-length collection of poetry (which is ambitious and nowhere near done) and a novel whose three-word elevator pitch would be “gay baseball ghosts.” I’m stoked for both of them, and stoked to have more time after the holidays to spend working on them!
Haha, as far as perhappened, we’ve already revealed our Issue 8 theme for February, LOVERS. What can I say about Issue 9? Hm… It’ll be a bloomin’ great time. (Nice one, Ren. Real subtle.)
Thank you again for having me, Shawn!
Isaura Ren (she/they) is an experience. She is the Editor-in-Chief and Poetry Editor of perhappened mag, an online literary journal, and the author of interlucent (2020). Their poems are featured or forthcoming in After the Pause, Kissing Dynamite, Okay Donkey, and elsewhere. Find them on Twitter @isaurarenwrites.
Shawn Berman (@sbb_writer) runs The Daily Drunk. He tweets a lot about Adam Sandler.