Interview, Poet, Kailey Tedesco

Just this past week, I was asked by someone if I ever get bored with the number of interviews that I conduct for my blog. My answer was simple – no! And, here is why with each interview that has been facilitated a new connection has been made with another human being.  As members of the human race, we have become extremely desensitised to one another and asking questions from my peers and those I admire will continue sans boredom. 

And by the way, here is another interesting interview for all you wonderful bookworms.  Kailey Tedesco has such a lovely and intriguing way of expressing herself through her pieces.  Kailey’s forthcoming book “She Used to be on a Milk Carton”, will be published by April Gloaming Publishing — date to be announced in the future. I’m quite grateful as Kailey shared the piece that inspired the title of the book and I found it quite thoughtful. 

Please feel free to follow Kailey on social media via Instagram.

RMMW: At what age did you start writing?

KT: I was always the kid that liked to make up stories and then enact them with my neighbors (or Barbies), but I think the first time I really sat down to write something serious and for myself was when I was about eight or nine years old.

RMMW: Do you remember what the first piece you ever wrote was?

KT: That first serious piece that I mentioned was a poem about the death of my grandma. I called her Grizzy, so the poem was titled after her name. I ended up sharing it in a contest at school, and I won the “Best Writer” award. My dad also helped me publish it online, so it was technically my first pub ever. It was the first time I really considered that I could be a poet. Like, fictional poets like Judy Funnie or the woman in An Extremely Goofy Movie seemed almost mythical in their kind of uniform look. After writing this poem, I realized I could be a poet without having to wear a beret every day of my life — it was a livelihood and not just an image. (I do wear berets pretty often though!)

RMMW: What does poetry mean to you?

KT: So, a tangent first! When I first started using the internet regularly at 9 or 10 years old, I was pretty wild about Web MD. I was home sick a lot, so I started to make a hobby out of diagnosing myself — some of the diagnoses were super extreme, as you can probably imagine.  Basically, I loved compiling my symptoms and giving them a name.
I think that’s what poetry is for me. Like most poets, I have a busy mind — I still have nightmares and night terrors pretty regularly. Poetry is a way for me to take agency over my thoughts by compiling them together and giving them a name. I’ve always felt that naming something gives you a power over it. If my names or words resonate with someone else, I think that’s some real magic.

RMMW: How would you classify the tone in your work?

KT: In my first two projects (She Used to be on a Milk Carton and my chapbook These 
Ghosts of Mine, Siamese), I tried to project a tone that projected parts of myself. Growing up, people have regularly responded to things that I’ve said or done with “aww” or “so cute!” even if the things I was saying didn’t really warrant that kind of response at all. When crafting poems for these projects, I drew a lot of inspiration from Gurlesque poetics and powerful and dominating women in pop-culture who also got a lot of unwarranted or inappropriate “awwws.” Many of my poems talk about danger and darkness in a playful or kitschy tone. I want people reading to maybe say “aww” on the surface, but then be like “wait, is that ‘aww’?”

I’m currently working on a project about Lizzie Borden, and it’s super interesting because in my research I found that she was also kind of one of these “aww” girls. Before and after the murders, people tended to infantilize her even through her thirties, but she was an incredibly complex person carrying her own darknesses, independent of her culpability in the crime. Many of the poems I wrote for this project were persona pieces from Lizzie’s POV, but I still ultimately got to exercise a similar dark kitschiness with some added glitz (Lizzie loved her expensive fruits and Parisian decor!). I love working with this sort of language, but I do hope to really step out of this comfort zone in whatever I work on next.

RMMW: Do you feel that as a Poet you need to be a strong writer?

KT: Yes, absolutely. Personally, it’s a much more tedious and mindful process for me to write a poem versus other forms of writing. There’s a lot of multi-tasking in poetry, and it’s a definitely a practice.

RMMW: What do you feel are some of the challenges contemporary Poets face in our age?

KT: I think a huge challenge with poetry is its socialization into other communities, or the lack thereof. Everyone has a preconceived notion about what a poem looks like and who a poet is, even if they are not involved with literary communities in any way. When I was teaching eighth grade a few years back, a co-worker said “so, you’re a poet… that means you sit around on benches and write about the birds all day, right?” I also can’t tell you how many times some of my best friends have asked me when I’m going to write a “real” book (i.e. a novel). 

These people mean well, but it doesn’t mean these things aren’t hurtful to hear. There’s been some definite strides in bridging some of these gaps over the last few years in particular, but society has put up some pretty fortifying walls around poetry and poets. The good news is, every time we talk about our own or another’s work and its validity or every time a collection of poems makes a best books list, we’re tearing some of those walls down. 
Poets know this, and it lends itself to an ultimately supportive and uplifting community.

RMMW: What’s your favourite piece written by you?

KT: Oh gosh! I think my poem “She Used to be on a Milk Carton,” after which my first collection has been named. I wrote this poem during the first semester of my MFA, and prior to that I was having a lot of difficulty finding my voice and my world, poetically — I was honestly all over the place. This was the first time ever that I felt like a poem just came completely out from body, like a clairvoyance. A lot of needed confidence stemmed from this crafting process, and that exhilaration is what powered me through writing the whole collection. That poem is published at FLAPPERHOUSE now.

RMMW: Tell us a bit about “She Used To Be On A Milk Carton” (Love the title!!!)

KT: Thank you! This collection is about my childhood growing up in the Jersey Pine Barrens in a low-income neighborhood populated with many predators. It’s also about girlhood, magic, martyrdom, and power. I grew up knowing and knowing of many girls who were abused and even killed at a young age, and I had always wished that we all had powers (like slayers getting activated all at once in Buffy), so I tried to rewrite the narrative in a way that lets those powers be real for a while.

Also, it’s going to be illustrated! I’ll have more details on its release date very soon.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

KT: Okay, so I love rituals, and I want so badly to say something super cool and artsy here. But the truth is, I really don’t have much of a ritual. I prefer silence, but I’m good at tuning things out if it’s noisy. Really, when I get inspired, I make sure to get everything out as quickly as possible and on whatever writing surface I can before something comes up that makes me lose that motivation. The only thing I hate is the Helvetica font. Nothing kills my flow like Helvetica.

RMMW: We all must deal with our inner critics; how do you contend with yours?

KT: She is pretty damn mean, haha! I’m historically hard on myself, so add writing to the mix and sometimes I get caught in a big Mouse Rat pit of negativity. When I’m feeling especially down about my work, I usually just tell myself that this is what I would want to be doing, even if I never got outside gratification from it ever again, so might as well just keep working on whatever project I’m working on.

During a particularly bad week or a time where I’ve gotten a lot of rejections in a row, I usually vent to my sister. She is really acerbic and no nonsense, so she, probably unknowingly, helps me reframe my insecurities and ultimately get over it enough to keep writing or move past whatever I’m worried about. She even wrote a poem of her own called “Frick You, Kay” about one day when I kind of sulked over this one poem I was working on instead of getting coffee with her. She wrote it to tease, but it was funny enough to get me out of my own head. I think it’s important to have supporters who help you get in the right headspace to write, but also those who help you to get out your writing headspace if it’s becoming intense to the point where it’s harmful creatively.

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you get out of it?

KT: Yes, for sure. If I’m feeling stuck I usually turn to movies or TV. Shudder is the best, so if I’m just totally uninspired, I like to pick out an 85 minute B-Horror film from the 60’s or 70’s. Usually the aesthetic and language of these sorts of films is helpful in itself. I also like to take a poetry collection in the bath and just literally soak for a while. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, too. I think jargon-y words can be really fun to use in poems, so I like to collect as many strange ones as I can — like mediomania!

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

KT: I’ve always had such a hard time answering this question! I think I’d like telekinesis the most, though.

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