Q&A with Vanessa Maki

Vanessa Maki is a writer, visual artist & blk feminist. This article focuses on her technology-themed chapbooks, press ctrl-alt-delete and social media isn't what's killed me, as well as the chosen one, recently published by Animal Heart Press. Vanessa's forthcoming publications include sweet like limes (Bone & Ink Press) & another final girl (Roaring Junior Press).

the chosen one

Q: As a reader, I really enjoyed how you extended the role of the chosen one to yourself in the opening poem of the book, welcome to the hellmouth.

A: Thank you, I wanted it to be a proper introduction and using the title of the pilot episode as the poem's title was important too. I found it to be a very blunt way of saying "this is my life" and considering the hellmouth, in the show, is a place that attracts mostly evil beings—it felt fitting.

Q: And you end that first poem with “to slay the worst beings on the planet/ to slay myself.”

A: Overall, my intention was to display my self-destructiveness and what being a slayer is. When we take the show into consideration, it's a job/calling/your destiny. Trying to run from yourself is pointless.

Q: Which one of the poems in the chosen one is your favorite? Why?

A: This is tough but my top fave is either please, give me something or dead things. What inspired me to write please, give me something was the song Give Me Something to Sing About from the musical episode (6x07).

Lyrics from Give Me Something To Sing About: "& with this life / you eventually take a bow / you leave the earth / it all ends at some point / whether you choose the timing of it or not / but this time / i was forced back / brought back to what is my hell"

press ctrl-alt-delete

Q: This is such a great book of poetry. Miran Kim, part of the Kanstellation team, noted that there are many parallels drawn between computer/machine and the body/bodily functions. How do you choose when to incorporate the technical language we associate with computers?

A: The whole point of the book was to look inside my system, rather than have poems that are strictly about technology. Truthfully, my subconscious is always sneaking into my work. I focused on how the poems were just peeking into my individual system and my deleted files, etc, since technology, especially computers, operates quite like human bodies. We have our own versions of recycling bins, deleted files, files, memory, etc. Pressing ctrl+alt+delete is something we like to think about and try to do in our lives: rebooting, shutting down, trying to function properly, smoothly.

Q: Who are some of your favorite poets?

A: In terms of well-known poets, I'd say Ntozake Shange is one of my top favorites (her choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf is her most well-known book). A lot of my favorite poets, at this point, are mostly young/21st century, which may seem overly millennial. Some of my favorite poets are Elisabeth Horan, Jessie Lynn McMains, Marisa Silva-Dunbar, Kiki Nicole, Jenna Vélez, and Wanda Deglane.