The Small Machine Talks
co-hosted by Amanda Earl and a.m. kozak
Episode 48: Interview with Nina Jane Drystek
Recorded on August 15, 2019, Ward 14
nina jane drystek is a poet, writer and performer based in Ottawa. her poetry has appeared in Canthius, talking about strawberries, the DUSIE: Tuesday poem, Bywords.ca, in/words, ottawater, small talk and Window Cat Press, as well as in self-published chapbooks, and chapbooks and broadsides by & co. collective, of which she is a member. #26: ‘knewro suite from simulacrum press came out this year.
she is a member of the sound poetry ensemble quatuour gualuour, and creates performances of her own. if you have ever lived in the same city as her you have likely seen her riding a red bicycle around town. you can find her @textcurious.
We talk about when Nina Jane began writing, collaborations from an early age, Canterbury High School, performance of poetry, cocktails, consignment shops, writing as a space of self-expression and time to be alone, publishing and self-publishing, chapbooks, handling rejection.
We discuss the origins of Nina Jane’s writing group and press, & Co Collective, meeting writers at In/Words’ weekly workshops, the informal nature of & Co Collective.
We talk about a forthcoming reading in Montreal, Nina Jane’s love of editing, a workshop we both took with rob mclennan and how workshops work in general. Spontaneous editing vs having the text ahead of time and the beauty of workshopping in the moment.
Nina Jane explains that she likes attending readings to hear the writers read in their own words. I ask Nina Jane about her background in theatre. She explains about her exploration of dramaturgy in grad school at Guelph, and her interest in performance. Nina Jane wrote and performed a one-person show in grade 7 about suicide.
She was interested in the performance of the scream, experimental scream therapy, nonverbal vocalization, the abrasive stuff that puts you on edge, plays about women behaving badly.
We talk about Nina Jane’s work for the Ottawa International Writers Festival as a volunteer in high school and then later as a staff member, and her own event organization, the value of conversations about writing and hearing work read aloud.
We talk about what makes for a good reading, such as a good host who is thinking about the audience experience, the difficulties of the Q and A session at the end of some readings. Amanda mentions the space created by the audience and the performer as another space.
Nina Jane talks about a poetry book that has influenced her, Aisha Sasha John’s I have to live and her work with performance and dance. As a teen, Nina Jane really liked the poetry infused novels of Francesca Lia Block, she liked writers who told stories through poetry. Amanda is frustrated by the idea of not being allowed to have characters in poetry. Nina Jane mentions an American novelist, Jesse Ball, who started out as a poet, his poems are filled with characters. We investigate the autobiographical nature of nursery rhymes.
We talk about being too distant from one’s poetry vs writing more personally.
We return to sound poetry and discuss quatuour gualuour, the sound poetry group Nina Jane’s involved in. She’s also writing her own sound poetry as someone who’s interested in writing things for performance and for multiple voices, seeing what others do with the work when they perform it.
We end with a discussion of Nina Jane’s cycling, the literary and feminist connections. We discuss a few books and ask for recommendations from listeners for poetry books about cycling. Amanda mentions the Invisible Publishing blog which has a list of such.
Ward 14 https://www.instagram.com/wardfourteen
MCNDm a night of performance and poetry in Montreal – September 8, 2019
Sheila Callaghan https://www.sheilacallaghan.com/
Ottawa International Writers Festival https://writersfestival.org/
Blue Metropolis https://bluemetropolis.org/
Aisha Sasha John – I have to live https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/537842/i-have-to-live-by-aisha-sasha-john/9780771050701/
Francesca Lia Block http://www.francescaliablock.com/
Jesse Ball https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/73835/jesse-ball
Dennis Cooley, the Bentleys https://www.uap.ualberta.ca/titles/49-9780888644701-bentleys
Yvonne Bloomer, Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur
Kate Harris, Land of Lost Borders https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/538575/lands-of-lost-borders-by-kate-harris/9780345816788
Catriona Strang, Reveries of a Solitary Biker https://talonbooks.com/books/reveries-of-a-solitary-biker
Transcontinental Race: Germany’s Fiona Kolbinger becomes first female winner of endurance race, https://www.bbc.com/sport/cycling/49248126
Invisible Publishing – Ten Books That Put One Foot In Front of the Other: https://invisiblepublishing.com/2018/10/23/books-about-walking/
Thanks to everyone for listening. Stay tuned for a new episode shortly.