In Conversation with Vanessa Maki

I believe that regardless of how diverse entertainment becomes, addressing social issues will always be important.

– Vanessa Maki

DWM: I had the pleasure of attending your virtual book launch party in January for the chosen one. As a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, reading your poetry helped me appreciate the show in a new way. What was your intent creating the chosen one?

VM: Originally the chosen one was a self-published micro-chap that, in all honesty, wasn’t as good as it could be, and I took a shot by sending it to Animal Heart Press. My intent with the rewrite was to pay homage, do something different, and take something important to me—then make it extra powerful.

DWM: Also, thanks for recommending the comics because I’ve been reading every single one I can get my hands on. They definitely address some loose threads like, what happened to Amy. They’ve been a welcome “conclusion” of sorts.

VM: Of course! 

DWM: What made you decide to write a chapbook inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Or would you say that inspiration is more Faith than Buffy?

VM: Would it be too simple to say my love for the show made me do it? While it’s obvious Buffy is a major part of the chapbook, Faith’s the slayer I’m more like in a multitude of ways.

DWM: One of the many things that I love about the chosen one is that you’ve taken a show that is very white and created space for Blk voices. As someone who addresses issues of blkness in her work, do you ever see a time when this will not be necessary?

VM: I believe that regardless of how diverse entertainment becomes, addressing social issues will always be important.

DWM: You don’t shy away from “dark” themes in your work. Would you view these darker themes, and even your exploration into horror, as a counterpoint to what’s considered “normal” or more acceptable? Or, do you see yourself as normalizing these themes in literary works?

VM: I consider it a counterpoint to what people consider normal. Horror is a genre that’s always been deemed as unacceptable or meaningless. Even when there’s more than enough examples of horror exploring and shedding a certain light on social issues.

Vanessa Maki, author

DWM: You’ve mentioned on social media that there is a reason for titling your works in lowercase. I automatically think of bell hooks and how she’s used her name to challenged patriarchal ideas regarding her and her work. What’s your intention with titling your works in lowercase?

VM: It’s to go against the grain and be unapologetic about it. I didn’t want to go back to the way I’d been writing before. Which was way too form and polished if you will.

DWM: Not only are you a poet, but you’re an artist and a nonfiction writer. Which discipline do you favor?

VM: I also write some fiction, especially fanfiction, if you can believe it. But, it genuinely depends on the day and what I’m trying to accomplish.

DWM: There is a particular painting of yours, “sudden desire,” that seems so oddly familiar to me, like it’s the embodiment of a teenage memory I’ve been struggling to remember. You’ve stated that this piece is inspired by a song of the same name by Hayley Williams (Paramore). Is all of your visual art inspired by music? Where do you draw your inspiration?

VM: Many pieces are but not all of them. From thoughts, pop culture, other forms of entertainment etc. Sometimes I’ll think of a word and want to create a piece inspired by said word. It’s just really interesting how inspiration can either be complex or very simple.

“sudden desire” by Vanessa Maki

DWM: What is something that you’d like to create if resources were not a factor?

VM: A very large mixed media piece that incorporates broken glass somehow. I’m talking a piece that couldn’t just be carried around.

DWM: What’s a question that you wish you were asked during interviews? And how would you answer it?

VM: Sometimes it’d be cool if people asked me who I’ve written about and why. Just so I could be mysterious with my answer or very blunt.

DWM: Usually I like to end my interviews by asking for advice to offer readers or how you practice self-care as an artist. But we’re in an unprecedented time of sorts. My question for you, if you care to share, is: what is one thing that keeps you anchored each day?

VM: Knowing that I’ve got projects coming out this year is what really helps me.

Vanessa Maki is a visual artist and writer from Vancouver Island. She’s got a new book coming out in May 2020, another final girl, with Roaring Junior Press, but her full catalogue is available on her website.

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