DeWitt Brinson: What sparked the idea to use a scientific format as a poetic structure?

Laurin DeChae: I was reading Darwin's The Origins of Species, for one, but I was also trying to examine what I saw as a cold relationship between humans and technology--how it changes, and sometimes dictates, our relationships to self and others. In thinking of the concept of "alien" as it often means "other," I hoped to compose a creation story that spoke to that narrative, one that challenged hegemonic ideologies. These poems served as an introduction to my larger manuscript, which follows the astral journey of the main character, Astrid, who is stranded in a post-apocalyptic world where she is in control, seemingly anyway, of her environment.

DeWitt Brinson: Starting the sections with log observations first gave me the feeling of reading fables in reverse. Do you think of the observations as metaphoric life lessons?

Laurin DeChae: Not so much life lessons, but a way in which, at the time anyway, I could convey personal experience in an impersonal way--that might be, not necessarily universal, but accessible to a wider audience. And, on another note, it was one form I felt I could use as a vehicle for my apocalyptic creation story, which took me a while to figure out.

DeWitt Brinson: Close your eyes and hum until you have something to say, share.

Laurin DeChae: *Hums Nora Jones' "Come Away With Me"*

I listen to music nearly all day, every day, but I haven't revisited this song in a while. Mostly I listen to hip-hop, rap, and R&B, but this song reminds me, in some small way, of the need to take refuge in that slow, almost silence, in that plucky guitar. When there are bombs dropping and you don't know what to do or where to go and options are limited, maybe all that's possible is withdrawing into yourself for a while. I think this is often looked down upon, but it shouldn't be. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm afraid, and when that happens I think it's important to remember to draw from your own strength, to reimagine your singular contribution to the collective. Yes, revolution and change are crucial, especially now, but if you don't take care of yourself it will be nearly impossible to maintain agency and advocate for necessary action.

DeWitt Brinson: Do you feel the world is too large or we are too small or is everything alright? Aren’t sizes always changing?

Laurin DeChae: Yes, sizes are always changing. I think that we are too large for the world and that problem is making itself known more every day. Then again, these poems are apocalyptic, which likely reveals my mindset (an undoubtedly harmful one at times). The scales shift, the world turns, the sun and moon rise and set. We live in exhaustive imbalance and are thus perpetually trying to find our footing.

DeWitt Brinson: When’s the last time you cried and did you feel better or worse for it?

Laurin DeChae: I cried this morning. I certainly felt worse for it, though that is not always the case. Crying is cathartic, but is also accompanied by shame. Why? We can sit in an auditorium and belly laugh at the jokes of a stand up comedian, but if you're in a theater and shed a tear, in the dark no less, we're quick to hide it. I say cry. We're human after all.

DeWitt Brinson: Do you know any good jokes?

Laurin DeChae: The 45th president. Who's laughing now?

DeWitt Brinson: Are you in love? With what or whom or are you seeking/not seeking to find an emotional echo?

Laurin DeChae: Love is funny. Right now I'm trying to expand my definition. Love is connection--beyond family, romance, and friendship. I've been asking myself, "How can I embody love?" It's not news that "love is work" or "love is hard" or "love is hard work," but more than that, how do we love our enemies, our differences, the things we hate about ourselves, those people that were only part of our lives for a brief moment? How do we create meaningful connections that contribute to this balance we so long for? I'm trying to be better at love.

DeWitt Brinson: Who are you reading right now or recently?

Laurin DeChae: There are so many phenomenal poets in the world right now and I'm trying to get my fill of all of them. Specifically, as far as poets go, I'm reading Aziza Barnes, Khadija Queen, Harmony Holiday, Douglas Kearney, Safiyah Sinclair, Solmaz Sharif, Ocean Vuong, Danez Smith, Krysten Hill, Claudia Rankine, and Derrick Harriel. However, I'm hoping to revitalize hybrid and assemblage theory and I've been reading a lot of that as well. A great text I recently came across in that vein is Habeas Viscus by Alexander G. Weheliye.

DeWitt Brinson: Who is your ideal reader?

Laurin DeChae: I don't know that I have one, but it would probably be someone who is willing to read slowly, to be confused at times and probably (un)comfortable, someone who can take part in my process of uncovering my obsessions, revisionary and arduous as it may be. 

DeWitt Brinson: What are you working on? Where can we find more of your writing or other projects?

Laurin DeChae: Right now I'm working on a million things at once, namely my PhD. However, I have a few projects in the works, including an afrofuture chapbook of poems, and a manuscript that more directly deals with the content that I started in the piece featured here. I'm interested in the lyric "I" and the ways in which it functions for women of color as a mode of definition. You can find my most recent work in journals like Pretty Owl Poetry, Animal Literary, The Fem, and Rogue Agent. More to come soon!



interviewed by the tender, young, virile writer

DeWitt Brinson

About the Author:

Laurin DeChae is a PhD candidate in Composition & Rhetoric at SUNY Albany, acting as the poetry editor for Barzakh Magazine. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of New Orleans. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Animal Literary, Pretty Owl Poetry and elsewhere