Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reader Meet Author

Kate Duva

For many writers, musicians, and artist, these creative endeavors are their passion, but not their full-time jobs. So there may come a time when a line has to be drawn between personal and professional, but where does that line begin and end? When do you stop being a lawyer or teacher or accountant, and start being a writer or artist? What is more important than what you called yourself and when you are known as that is how the things you publish and who it is seen by can impact your full-time job.

Chicago's Kate Duva is a writer, blogger, and collage artist, but she is also a teacher. I always find it interesting to talk with teachers about their creative output because they each seem to have a different take on the limits they may or may not be implied. Kate's work has been published at the2ndhand, Fugue and Flashquake, and she was kind enough to talk with us today.

Orange Alert (OA): Last year you had the opportunity to read with Elizabeth Crane and
Spencer Dew. What was that experience like, and do you enjoy participating in readings?
Kate Duva (KD): It was great. It's a challenge to read out loud, and pause and give weight to every word –you discover the truth about your piece, whether it's bullshit or not. You can hide on the page, but a voice never lies.

OA: Do you feel that Chicago is a good place to be a writer? Are there opportunities out there for writers? Does is it even matter where you live these days?
KD: I was born here – I have no concept of what Chicago is, just as I can't see my own bones. I will say that the cold makes hermits of us, which encourages getting down to work. And when you finally do get out, the fantastic variety of weirdos makes for good material.

OA: I've heard it is almost required by publishers that their writers create blogs. Why did you start blogging and do you feel like it helps you as a writer? Does it help you connect with readers on a different level?
KD: I did it purely for attention, but I can't keep up with it. Promoting yourself is such drudgery. I'd rather spend my time rewriting my stories thirteen times, until they sing. I'm too slow for blogs.

OA: You are also an artist. Is the creative process different when creating visual art as opposed to writing?
KD: I'm lazy about visual art, so it's less of a process for me than a splay that represents a single moment in time. But I think the process for everything is essentially the same, it just unfurls in
different rhythms. It all comes from the Lord.

OA: I've read that you are a teacher. Are you cautious about what you publish as a result?
KD: I'm not cautious about what I publish, but I am cautious about who I tell about my secret life. A century ago schoolmarms had to obey decrees forbidding them from keeping company with men, leaving the house after six p.m., or going out without their petticoats. I know a teacher whose principal "let her go" in 1968 for being pregnant – she was married and this was a public school – and she accepted it as protocol! That pressure to be meek and sexless remains in public
schools, it's just unspoken. So no, I do not bring to the teachers' lounge my stories about hermaphroditic chinchillas and threesomes with cabbies.

OA: What's next for Kate Duva?
KD: Radio! I've done a couple pieces for Vocalo and I'd like to expand on that. As a child I recorded shows with a toy piano, a gong and a cat – I squeezed the cat for sound effects. I'd like to play more with sound, although I have a tiny baby at home who is eating me alive. It's going to be a slow year.

Bonus Questions:
OA: If you could sit down to coffee with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
KD: I'd squat down to coffee with my ancestors. I'm fascinated with my ancestors. Or I'd choose my dearly departed dad, although he'd insist on cocktails. I'd take him to karaoke, watch him get sloshed and sing "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometimes."

OA: What type of music do you enjoy and who are a few of your favorites?
KD: Balkan music, especially Turkish or gypsy-inspired: it's the best dance music on the planet! Motown, bachata, bhangra, monk music, and anything psychedelic and high-pitched and melodious. I can dig a little Neil Diamond, some Ol' Dirty Bastard. My children cry when I sing lullabies, incidentally, but are mesmerized by ODB.

For more information on Kate Duva please visit her blog.


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