I think of my writing as a hybrid form of poetry, fiction, and oral history. Usually each work is made up of many short pieces, accruing collective meaning with common themes while suggesting different individual narratives, perspectives and voices. The approach to time in my writing is similar to the physical technique of moving backwards and forwards used in the creation of my paintings. My work struggles against being - and in many cases refuses to be - only one person, in only one place and time at once. I include multiple voices within one verbal narrative, at times suggesting a dialogue, while constructing something much more fragile and complex at others, more reminiscent of memory or internal lines of thought. I am fascinated by family histories - the tension between what is remembered repeatedly and what is never explained or figured out. For me, what is unsaid or forgotten is every bit as significant and vivid as the details told and retained. My writing also reflects a longing for history that includes identities like my own - coupled with an unrelenting consciousness of how unrealistic that is. Stories told in my family never include homosexuality, even when there's no record of any marriage or children. Histories from similar pioneer eras sometimes suggest queerness to me, but in a time when it was rare to even have a name for it, individuals' private feelings are lost.
My experience of the world often involves seemingly opposing truths and experiences that nevertheless exist together. My homosexuality, for example, makes me feel simultaneously invisible and exposed. I feel singular but also of a kind, powerful and vulnerable at the same time, from the same part of myself. Likewise, the things I never knew about my grandmother and the ways I misremember things she said are an important part of telling a story about her - she's more wholly real when she's partially inaccessible. One of my favorite things about writing is being able to express these joined yet distinct realities, without one becoming the dominant or right one, with the difference of the feelings adding to each other rather than negating each other.
Only Ever This Age
Histories - Clare Johnson
In this podcast for Jack Straw SoundPages I talk with poet Kevin Craft about my work and read 4 pieces from my Jack Straw Fellowship
There's Something Else
In this piece, first published in Seattle Review of Books, I intersperse drawings from my Post-it Note Project with my writing.