PTNYC Interviews Daniel Dissinger for 3 Po3try NYC Event 4.12.14

1. What one word describes your writing/performance style?


2. What are the best words on your writing anyone has ever given you?

It really isn’t what someone said about my writing, but what William Burroughs said about Kerouac, “Kerouac was a writer because he wrote”.  I take that with me into each writing space, no matter what it is that I am writing—essay, poem, story, play, joke, etc.—you come humbly to the space of writing, and do the work.  This is the only thing that matters.

3. What’s your idea of the most impactful poem?

An honest poem.  A naked poem.  An open wound.

4. Who are you on stage?

I am a BODY, on display, released into a room, with only my language to ground me.  I am the poem(s), or I try to be.  No matter how the poet brings the language to the room, whether memorized or not, if the poet is NOT the WORK, not honest or present in each syllable, then it doesn’t matter WHO they are on stage.  I am a work in progress.

5. What do you want the audience to feel from your work?

Quiet.  At home.  Lost.  Dust.  Wonder.  Hungry.  Aroused.  Vulnerable.  Hurt.  Angry.  I want them to FEEL at all times.  I want them to feel a deafening numbness.  Incompleteness.  I want them to feel lips somewhere and everywhere and nowhere on their bodies.

There’s a specific hill on the northern California coast I saw years ago during a cross country trip, on a beach that materializes out from the dense redwood forest, and then there’s black sand and rocks caressed by salt water; it’s like walking in on an intense affair; I want them to feel the altitude of the hill and the perfect cuts from surfers on the water.

Lonesome.  Darkness.  Fingers.  Throats.  Blood.  Glass.

I want the audience to feel a profound need to breathe in and out and pay close attention to where they feel the oxygen on their flesh.

And I want to SHARE all of this with them.

6. Where does performance drive your writing?

Performance is the celebration.  You see, you usually sit and write and compose and move about your apartment or house, or maybe you take long walks, drives, and think about the lines; you move somewhere into a corner and bring pen to paper and begin the scratching, and you only hear voices, maybe not yours, but voices, with these words in their mouths’, and you continue to ponder and get upset, excited; you let yourself be hurt and seduced by the poem, but, performing the poem, or reading it to a room full of people, or with a handful of people, this is the celebration, it is the time when poets go from private to public and become the rock stars, so to say.  And then, after, the next day, you start all over again.

7. How do you put together a poem, where do you begin again?

I first hand-write all my work.  I don’t really think of it as “writing poetry”.  I write words and translate spaces I have entered and exited and destroyed and loved inside of cried inside of went hungry inside of, if I saw death life beauty nudity poverty blood laughter, all the music and books and television language and food which moves in and out of my body.  I get all of this down, without a thought about “writing a poem”.  After all of this, I begin the composition of the pieces.  I put music on, listen, look at the words, and follow along the breaths each image exhales.  I want to give space to as many images and uncomfortable line breaks as possible.  The last thing is always the title.

8. What young contemporary writers are you influenced by, and why?

The funny thing is that there are a bunch of young contemporary poets that influence/inspire/challenge/support me as an artist.  Each one of these writers show me what is possible with language, what is possible with BODY and MIND.  It is not easy to be a young poet, so having others to look to for support, whether in their work or in strong unbreakable friendships, everyday phone calls and emails and text messages, visits and brunches and performing together; it has been this singular aspect that has kept me creatively moving forward.  So, I want to thank these writers for their work and/or their friendship: Ilya Kaminsky, LaVonne Natasha Caesar, Tim Z. Hernandez, Travis Cebula, and Aimee Herman.

9. How focused are you on the audience while you read?

I am focused on hearing a deafening silence between long, purposeful, pauses.  This lets me know that they are listening.  Once I know this, I feel comfortable, I feel free, and I love to throw in more tonal shifts, rhythmic shifts, and longer pauses.

10. How much are you conscience of eye contact, body movement, tone of voice in your performance?


I have become much more aware of eye contact.  This awareness is thanks to my girlfriend, an amazing actress and poet.  She always stresses to me how important it is to connect with the audience.  Connection with people is POETRY.  She has also helped me to be aware of my BODY on stage, to ground myself and be present.  You have to be aware of all these things, especially the voice, if you are going to bring your lines to the stage.  Peaks and valleys of volume and speed have to be considered during a performance.  You don’t want to rush through a poem and scream at the audience, and at the same time, you don’t want to drag on quietly.  You have to know yourself and allow yourself to BE yourself on stage.  TRUST in BODY and VOICE.


Don’t miss Daniel Dissinger at 3Po3try NYC’s spring Poetry Extravaganza on Saturday, April 12 at the Pomegranate Gallery in Soho: CLICK FOR TICKETS & INFO

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