An interview with Katherine Factor

THERMOS asked poet Katherine Factor a few simple questions, and she astonished us with this response. You can also find it, along with new poems of hers, in the latest print edition (#7). Send us an email if you’d like to purchase a copy.

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Minoans, Tar Sands, & Astral- Projective Verse

As I write this it is summer’s end, but because I am in my third year in residency at Idyllwild Arts, isolated in the phenomenal mountains and perfect climate of the San Jacintos, it means a day not too unlike my summer.

So I will all together answer the questions – 1). What’s a typical day like for you right now? 2). What have you been reading and thinking about? 3) How has the work changed since we published your poems, and 4). What’s your process like these days? –because everything is enmeshed.

First, I spend as much time as possible in dreamtime, a preferred place, made up by the collected mind in a field that is not mine but ours. Hero the cat ensures I return. I start the day opening doors for him and letting in the dayworld. In this case, a yard in the National Forest. Stellar Jays and squirrels argue over acorns; the sounds do not denote flirting.

Morning coffee brings reading, largely on Minoan culture. My instant oatmeal is a far cry from ancient grain and its storage, multiplicities of rooms found in the temples Arthur Evans had to call ”palaces”. Spiders shuffle webs high above my desk, making their own meanders. There are at least ten species, which means there were once more.

Encountering any number of elements, many are recorded. Since THERMOS published my poems, there is a much greater allowance of the occasional – What is the day telling me, what is its herstory, what are the aspects and who is my planet. What sphere is sending sounds, watched by what, where are my guides.

I indulge on the internet, inviting in my company: vertiginous diction, other poets I so admire, what might interest my students, how to make a magnetic shield for the future, neurotheology, the Tar Sands Keystone pipeline XL, the lyrics to Rocketman. (For certain, I’ve got to keep Bernie Taupin close, as antidote for whatever I ingest today.)

News of sustained civil disobedience by the No Tar Sands Action provides me strength in the realities of fossil thievery. With a bitumen extraction method already deadly to indigenous peoples of the Boreal Forest, the pipeline would span from Alberta to the Gulf for export of the nastiest venom that will leak, threatening the Ogallalla watershed with a crude we admit we don’t know how to clean up.

Over 1,200 arrests were made during 14 days of No Tar Sands Action. At this date, Wall Street cities enact an ongoing occupation, complete with media blackout. Using the body repeatedly, as arrests-as-message, I’m thinking of the durational – of Ernesto Pujol’s place art, social choreography, using the body to destroy the illusion of time. We need something on our side, a time control harnessed from Deep Time.

Poet Robert Duncan enacted sustained use of the body (see Passages), weaving fields and tearing fabrics.Like him, I am interested in polysemy, composition by current. Spirit’s organizational course now compensates for a live internet field full of fingerprints. Since those THERMOS poems, I am trying to treat all parts equally, which means there is a meeting of evil eyes. That I have to admit disturbance in the force field. In my altercations of the mundane, I am an Ariadne pulling threads.

So I’m sure to find a listening treasure, something to push mental steam into, rather then board a plane. Today – a rare set of online lectures given by Richard Koepsel. Richard is a walking archive, a Rosicrucian who runs Microcosm bookstore in Madison, where knowledge is a free currency. His talks are wonderfully intuitive, dense and so delightful in my pursuit of an etheric revival.

See me, then, trying to peer into what Evans thought he discovered as he reconstructed the adjoining rooms at Knossos? He built as he took, his excavation a versioning. The Minoans had a language we have not deciphered, why not retrieve Linear A, why not clairaudience.

Even if otherness fades in my workday, I become frustratingly aware I can’t get beyond my desire body. An initiate needs a patient application, so I take a walk. Am in total wonder of the Manzanitas, the fairy-talesque A- frames, and Jeffrey Pines that saturate with butterscotch smell.

But the elegy is never far from me. It thorns any idyll of mine. A car scuzzes by in my climb up Fern Valley. The postmodern pastoral begins a flash animation backwards in time to when we had battery cars, Tesla, and biodiesel at the 1900 World’s Fair. Even with my careful choosing of materials, violence – the unemployed abusive neighbor, news of a friend’s suicide, the endless wars – finds me.

I return to sit again, to take a swing at it. Thus I start some sort of Action Typing. Throughout the weekend, I will hide at home >fiddle with collage > shoot video> play with dangerous pinecones > cherish friends. I can’t be with them completely, so instead I compile notebooks of lines and ideas and data largely about when we were all together before, liquid group protected in the thermos.

As I finish this, a chain of text messages begin connecting and informing us of a birth happening. Kid Splendor is arriving, he will be named Eko, meaning Sound as well as its Greek root, “house”. I close my eyes and type for him a safe passage, an improving world for his upbringing. It filters in chromophores around Val’s dilating cervix. Eko will pass our departing friend in the Grand Hall.

Our emergent selves depend on sensory development. Yet the work has not changed in the way that it is participatory, a danceabout involved in its making. But now, what Olsen calls the ‘Single Intelligence’ nears Singularity. The projective nature of thought is in a lineage of ponderance in an infantile mind, one that asks to dance with the data, extract what Duncan followed: ‘the law which governs all’. Such an independent fuel source- requires an engaged meditation with interference, accident, and transmission. Conglomerate do I a series of hopeforms.

Recently I dreamt I was bumping into my poems, each idea a connecting wall, each one a room in the chambers.

When night encroaches, if I am lucky I stream live music or occupation, so an amateur remote viewing can take place. Like anything live, I can project an energy-story there by writing in real time into its happening. Culling the streams, language a sieve, I may or may not receive a poem – but the work insists it is mightier than our evident de-evolution.

My evening setlist:

Water plants > food on stove > ruminate > take burned pan outside> fire worry re: desert life> beam me up Scottie > encourage Hero to return the lizard he’s pawed inside > feel Fukishima > Rocketwoman things> wonder when Hero will learn to do dishes > draw the bath by first removing spiders > wrinkle and read > friendship theory > Hero soft hypnagogue> laser sounds

Drawing by Scott Nowak (1975-2011)


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