with Vanessa Sinclair:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Vanessa: As far as writing fiction and poetry, inspired by the work of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs I began cutting up academic papers I had written about artists that work with cut-ups. I first met Genesis Breyer P-Orridge at a mutual friend’s birthday party in 2011, and we grew close after I invited he/r to speak as part of a class I was teaching with Jamieson Webster on Gender, Sexuality and Perversion at The New School for Social Research in 2013. After Genesis came to speak with my students, we developed a close and intense relationship. During this time I began to write about Gen’s work – specifically Pandrogeny – from a psychoanalytic perspective. Gen loved it and wrote to me:
“You are really opening up aspects we’d not fully uncovered. As if we’d been walking our cobbled stone path unfolding as pandrogeny but you scuffed up some of those stones revealing new patterns and layers we’d have maybe missed without you. Don’t stop writing all this we ARE loving it”
Genesis and I spent many a night together, talking and brainstorming. One day, I was watching a talk by William Burroughs on YouTube, in which he was encouraging audience members to try cut-ups for themselves. He was adamant that we should all try cut-ups ourselves, as anyone can create cut-ups. That’s the beauty of it. Just grab a magazine or newspaper that’s laying around, cut it up and see what it says. So I decided to try cutting up myself. Up until that point I had been fascinated by artists and writers who utilize the cut-up method and had been writing about their work. But I hadn’t attempted cut-ups myself. I had the piece I wrote about “Pandrogeny and Polymorphous Perversity” (which was later published in The Fenris Wolf volume 8 edited by Carl Abrahamsson) with me, so I pulled it out and cut it up. And this was the result:
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Vanessa: My ongoing creative collaborators Carl Abrahamsson and Katelan Foisy always inspire me. And I continue to be influenced by third minds of all kinds… Burroughs and Gysin, John Balance and Peter Christopherson of Coil, and Breyer P-Orridge, to name a few.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer/artist?
Vanessa: My mother is an artist, so I have always been surrounded by and inspired by art and artists. I went to school to earn a doctorate in psychology and didn’t really consider myself to be an artist or allow myself to dabble in art and poetry myself until my career was secure, although all my best friends and lovers have always been artists, poets and musicians.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Vanessa: My writing is most inspired by artists and writers such as the surrealists, Pierre Molinier, Ovartaci, Breyer P-Orridge, Val Denham… artists included in my book Scansion in Psychoanalysis and Art: The Cut in Creation (Routledge 2020). My husband Carl Abrahamsson has been my biggest support. And my creative partners Katelan Foisy and Little Annie Bandez are huge inspirations and supports for me as well.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
Vanessa: I grew up in Miami, Florida and did not have much of a chance to write there. Until I was 30, I was working full-time while going to school, so I really didn’t have time or energy for much else. I didn’t really begin writing until I moved to New York City. In New York, I was able to spend time visiting museums, walking the streets taking in the sites and writing in cafes. It was then that I became creatively inspired.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Vanessa: Both of my poetry books mean so much to me. My first book of cut-up poetry Switching Mirrors (Trapart Books, 2016) was my very first book to be published and marked such an important turning point in my life. My second book of poetry The Pathways of the Heart (Trapart Books, 2021) includes my collages alongside my poetry and marks another turning point in my life, both creatively and emotionally, as it was created while grieving the loss of a dear friend who was murdered by her partner.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Vanessa: I love to take walks, take baths, tidy the house, read and listen to music.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a work of yours or others?
Vanessa: I love this line, which I used as the ending of my first book of poetry Switching Mirrors (Trapart Books, 2016):
“Unusual sights leak out,” the cut-ups had announced
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Vanessa: My husband Carl and I recently published a book together called It’s Magic Monday Every Day of the Week (Trapart Books, 2021) in which we discuss our various creative and magical practices. Every Monday at our Patreon, we have what we call Magic Monday for our 23rd Mind patrons, where we each write about our magical and creative practices (which often go hand in hand) as individuals, as well as collaborators. After the first year of posts, we decided to collect them together into a book, which we called It’s Magic Monday Every Day of the Week (Trapart Books, 2021). It’s been a really wonderful process to go back through all of these writings and revisit where we’ve been each week, especially as we began this practice just as the pandemic was beginning. So we’ve basically documented our magical and creative practices throughout this pandemic, and it’s those very magical and creative practices that have really sustained us.
Thanks for that brilliant interview David. Vanessa comes across as a very creative and energetic person. I’ve never tried cut-ups myself… but after reading this piece, this is really calling out to me. The mix of language and visual is something that I somewhat crave, and cut-ups is an attractive idea to explore because of its direct accessibility.