Oregon poet laureate and World Cup Poetry Slam winner Anis Mojgani talks love poems, finding your voice and creating community, how to get the writing muses to show up, and becoming a poet / Miss America.
Anis Mojgani is the current poet laureate of Oregon who is also a two-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam. He has done commissions for the Getty Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum; and his work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in The New York Times.
Anis Mojgani 00:00
Most likely nothing will come of your artistic endeavors Anis
Fiona McCann 00:07
Welcome to We Can’t Print This
Eden Dawn 00:09
A podcast telling the story you don't know behind the story you do.
Fiona McCann 00:14
My name is Fiona McCann,
and I'm Eden Dawn.
And every week we interview a writer of some kind or another about the stories behind their stories. Now please do us a favor, sign up for our newsletter if you like this podcast, and you can also support us on patreon.com/wecantprintthis.
Eden Dawn 00:32
This week. Our guest is Anis Mojgani, the current Poet Laureate of Oregon, who is also a two time individual champion of the National Poetry slam and winner of the International World Cup poetry slam. He has done commissions for the Getty Museum and the Peabody Essex Museum and his work has appeared on HBO, NPR, New York Times, everywhere. He also each summer has these beautiful evenings, called Poems at Sunset Out a Window, which we will get into more in this episode. But the crux of that is really about him bringing poets and community together, which I love so much as an overarching theme for this episode.
Fiona McCann 01:15
Yeah, and I think community is so important for writers, it's for so many reasons, I think it can be such a solitary activity. And sometimes it feels like you're writing into a void. And there are many ways to build community or find community, which I think are kind of important for writers.
Eden Dawn 01:32
I do too. I mean, one example of that, is Fiona and I are in a building that is full of writers that we were the first people in this building, to get it going and trying to bring other writers in because all of these people were working from home, including us, and it is so lonely. And now we have lunch together and we share work ideas. And it was really important in his changed all of our output of work, because I think it's good for writers to be with other writers
Fiona McCann 02:03
totally. And it's not just because you need company, per se, but you also need to be around people who are doing the same kind of work and who understand the same pressures. And it just feels now that there's kind of ideas fizzing all over the place. And you'll, you know, people will share advice, ideas, thoughts, events coming up. They'd be like, Oh, I'm going to this reading tonight. Did you know about it?
Eden Dawn 02:26
Like how we all sat around talking as a bunch of former journalists how everybody wanted to write different stories on cults, because that's what all journalists wanna write about stories about—cult stories.
Fiona McCann 02:34
Don't steal this idea we're all doing, we're gonna have a whole book stories on cults. I do think I mean, there are other ways as well, you may not be able to bring a whole building together. But wherever you are, as a writer, I think it's just good to be in community with other writers find out where there are readings, find out if there's a writers group near you. And if there isn't, maybe start your own.
Eden Dawn 02:56
It really a nice example of so good where he literally tells poems out his window at sunset. And it brings people together in this lovely way. And it is a simple thought and one that has really changed things and I would encourage writers to do the same and what is whatever your skill set is, what can you do to bring community together? Okay, on with the episode. Let's do it.
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Fiona McCann 03:25
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Eden Dawn 03:39
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Fiona McCann 03:55
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Eden Dawn 04:06
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Fiona McCann 04:15
Anis, I have a question for you. How does one become a poet? I feel like my career guidance teacher did not have that on the list. She was like public relations. No poetry. No, even Seamus Heaney was a teacher first. Like how do you end up in a situation where you were a full time poet. And I know it's not end up by the way. Obviously, there was some agency there. Like it just happened to me just happened
Eden Dawn 04:41
One day, I was walking down the street and they're like, you're the poet laureate.
Fiona McCann 04:45
You're the poet laureate. I mean, you wrote you're the poet laureate for the state of Oregon. How How did you end up here?
Anis Mojgani 04:52
Um, so I'll try to not have this be too meandering, but like
Fiona McCann 04:59
don't be shy of a meander
Anis Mojgani 05:01
I had gone to school for for visual arts. I had gone to school to study comic book illustration.
Fiona McCann 05:08
Oh, you’re one of those multitalented artists,
Eden Dawn 05:10
I hate that annoying. Get out.
Anis Mojgani 05:15
And I was in school then. And having a conversation with self of like, most likely nothing will come of your artistic endeavors Anis. If this is the path that you're on, there's the very large likelihood that you will probably work a job that you like, do not necessarily enjoy. Are you okay with that? You know, and if I was, if I was an older, wiser person, perhaps I wouldn't have been okay with it. Because like, Yeah, I'm fine. Like, you know, working whatever shit job so long is like I'm able to, like, make whatever I want to, like, when I'm not punching the clock. And so I think like, you know, and I mentioned that, because I think that was like a thing that sort of just like, then put me in the mindset that like, alright, well, I'm not beholden to doing the thing that I'm supposed to do. I'm not beholden to doing the thing that's like, going to ensure that my rent is paid and my health care. You know, I yeah, like those things. Yeah. Like, it's great to those things fall into place. But those aren't the things that like, that I'm shooting for, like I'm shooting for something else. And the other things just support whatever this artistic endeavors. And so when, when I was done with school, the thing that I was, like, just curious about at that time was my relationship to poems, to writing them to performing them. And so I just kind of set myself in that direction. Like, I was like, Oh, I got friends in New York, I live in New York, New York also has like a really thriving spoken word and poetry save community, I want to go live in a city where I can like, go to a poetry slam every single week. And so that's what I did. And I went there. And it was like, probably sometime, like, around that time were, you know, realizing that there weren't many folks, but I knew of poets in the community that would get paid big chunks of money for doing poems at colleges, you know, and it's like, I don't know how one does that, but I know that it exists. So maybe, if I just like, keep doing poems, maybe I'll end up there. And so I kept doing poems and kept doing poems. And at some point, I had won the National Poetry Slam, and it placed me like, I
Fiona McCann 07:40
just dropped that one. And at one point, I had just, sorry, won the National Poetry Slam
Eden Dawn 07:45
I just became Miss America.
Anis Mojgani 07:50
So once once, once I was Miss America, I, it you know, had this gave me sort of like, this, this extra bit of competence of like, oh, well, perhaps like, I'm doing something, right. And perhaps there is something that else that could happen with this. And around that time, a young poet who's in college like, you can you come to my school, and so he invited me to his school. And it was at the same time, like, somebody else had invited me and some other poets to their school. And the school thing was happening, it was happening. And it was like one of those things where I was working at, in the catering department at the zoo here in town. And at Random Order coffee shop on Alberta.
Fiona McCann 08:33
Really, that's gone that that wasn't it? Yeah, sorry.
Anis Mojgani 08:36
But I was like, Oh, well, let me just let me leave this job for like, a month, and see what happens. Did those gigs, and then other gigs started popping up? And it was like, Oh, well, if I can do this for, you know, six months, then maybe I can do it for a year, and did it for a year. And I was like, Well, if I do it for a year, then maybe I can do it until I don't want to do it anymore. Yeah. And so that was
And maybe they'll make me, poet laureate
Eden Dawn 09:03
Miss Universe. Let's talk about the new book.
Anis Mojgani 09:06
This was written. I mean, mostly over the last, like six months, I guess. But it's a very much a kind of like a new book that's speaking to sort of like, the particular chapter of this last year, my life, but connect it to very previous things. So there's like some poems in there that are older, but for the most part, it's like, all from
Fiona McCann 09:29
Anis Mojgani 09:30
For the most part,
Eden Dawn 09:31
and what how do you describe that recent chapter?
Anis Mojgani 09:34
Um, well, I mean, the book itself, I tell folks that the book is about love.
Eden Dawn 09:39
That's my favorite.
Anis Mojgani 09:41
And during during the pandemic, I found myself I'd say to folks that like largely I was writing either poems about revolution or love poems. They belong together. Well, that's the thing like they basically just feel sort of like the same poem are seeking to do the same thing. But I don't know like, I found myself like one of my My close friends was like, Oh, I love the idea of just a book of love poems. That just sounds really nice right now. And what was interesting as like, you know, that does sound really nice. And I would go to Powell’s and just sort of, to kind of see what, perhaps books of love poems existed, and they didn't really like it. Like, there weren't books that I could find from contemporary, like, contemporary collections that were just like, here's a book of love poems. Really, like, here's love.
Fiona McCann 10:43
Elizabeth Browning Book. Pablo Neruda. Exactly. Were you in love at the time,
Anis Mojgani 10:44
I was in love, but I was heartbroken. Oh, it was like, you know, I like 2022 was a year that was more so the first half was just like kind of rough on my heart.
Eden Dawn 10:59
I hate that, why does heartbreak make work so good. But then, whenever I'm heartbroken, I try to console myself would be like, to make something real good. And then when things are going really well, in my life, I'm like, fuck, can I not create stuff? Now? I don't know. But I just feel like, doesn't it seem to be the case? Do you think that any love poems are ever written, of people just being in love?
Anis Mojgani 11:25
I mean, like, I think, historically, I tend to often write from a place of, of love. And when I'm in like, there's, there's plenty of poems in here that are, like, written in love. And like, the book itself, I think, like, isn't so much about heartbreak, like there's not there's, there's some moments where it it nods to that, but really, I think like, you know, what is heartbreak doing, but revealing that which in us, has been, like, shaped and carved by that love. And that shaping and carving a love of love is ultimately I think, like how we learn to fill that space, whether it's like with somebody else, right? But ideally, like, it's not filling that space inside of ourselves with somebody else, but like, what are we filling in ourselves with ourselves. And so, you know, whatever love that is transpiring with another person is ultimately like an opportunity for me to, you know, just like, increase my capacity of love for myself. And like, by increasing that capacity of love for myself, and better understanding myself, I'm then able to love other people more fruitfully and more successfully and more holy.
Fiona McCann 12:41
You have to be so open to that, though, I think sometimes there's a danger that it almost carves a smaller space in your heart if you're not really careful.
Anis Mojgani 12:48
100% Yeah, no, because it's like, it's like you're on a path, and you come to a fork in the road. And there's a sign that says, This way to the pit of despair. Oh,
Fiona McCann 12:59
and there's ways
Anis Mojgani 13:00
away from the pit of despair, you know, and both arrive you on the other side of the field, the same back of the same place. And it's like, well, I guess I'm going by the pit of despair. And not only am I just going by the pit of despair, but then I'm like, hanging out on the bridge, and just sort of like staring into the, and it's like, a nice, you can, you don't have to stay here. Even though, you know, there's this aspect of mining my grief at times to create something that that thing that I end up creating ends up being something that, like, serves me and is not something that like makes me feel worse, for having, like, engage with it in this manner. You know,
Fiona McCann 13:41
and it's not like you're inviting terrible things to happen in order to create.
Anis Mojgani 13:48
You know, it's funny, you know, I think about like, when I was younger, there was definitely like this, like, aspect, like, ah, kind of wish, like, like, I wouldn't like seek it out. But there was a sort of like, men, funnily something like, interesting what happened, even if that interesting thing was, like, horrible, then I could, like, make art from such and it's, you know, I think that there is like, at times, it's like weird wrestling when one is seeking to create things like how do we like, like, you were saying, like about how, how do want this one create things, when one is not in a place of like, pain? No, no. And, and I think that like, it's totally doable. Again, like so much of my work stays present, trying to, to be connected to to not simply the Woe. If it's carrying sadness in, there's also carrying humor and brevity in it. And if there's like brevity and joy in it, that there's also like, moments that are being stuck in there snuck in there that's like, oh, hold this but also don't forget that there's also these other things that are existing at the same time,
Eden Dawn 14:56
fully realized fully realized humans were all the things we're sad and we cracked horrible jokes and our deepest moments of sadness and like to cope. Sorry, I just have to say, before we move on, I have to confess that in the like fifth grade, I was deeply obsessed with the idea of getting kidnapped because I thought it would give me like really good stories to tell. I thought I would be like on TV, and I was like, I could probably make a career out of it. I'd be like the girl who was kidnapped and I escaped. And then like, just thought, I didn't want anything bad to happen to me. I just, I guess, wanted some people to put me in a van feed me candy. And then like, let me loose. Yeah. And I would get to tell the tale. And that's,
Fiona McCann 15:35
I'm so sorry. You never got kidnapped?
Eden Dawn 15:38
I'm in my early 40s. Do you think it's too late? It's
Fiona McCann 15:40
not it's never too late.
Eden Dawn 15:43
I hydrate very well. Moisturize. I look so young.
Fiona McCann 15:47
It's true, though, I think. I mean, I definitely relate to obviously looking for some drama when one was younger and feeling like I live in such a boring time, also, and now I'm like, it's a little bit too interesting. Now we have global.
Eden Dawn 16:01
global pandemics. And rings of fire.
Fiona McCann 16:04
I think when I hear you talking about that, I think it's worth considering, like people's whole body of work. I mean, I often when I think of people writing out of pain, there's this poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who will these really despairing poems. So full of pain, actually, that kind of bothered me when I was younger, because he wrote them in Dublin, and I somehow took grave offence at that. But anyway, he also wrote some poems of exquisite joy. And although you may not find both things together in one actual poem, in the body of his work, you can see this sort of vicissitudes of emotional range. It's not like he was marred and despair forever, although I will forever associate him with three.
Anis Mojgani 16:43
I mean, like, you know, that's the thing. Like, when I was younger, I, one of the writers that I read a lot of was Charles Bukowski. And, you know, there's a writer that is a lot of problematic aspects like to both him and his writing. But I think that like there's an aspect to, as I read more and more, more, what I thought was really beautiful was that that aspect that here was this writer who really kind of despised humanity. But like, if one just started reading more and more and more of this body of work, you saw, got to bear witness to this like journey of a person who went from being miserable and hating people to like, breaking open with more and more love and more joy. And so there is something always I think, like really, really lovely and special about getting to, to look at a body of work of a person,
Eden Dawn 17:39
you're the first boy ever who has brought up liking Bukowski that hasn't given me red flags to say that life is always like the boy boys at a party who were quoting Bukowski, and I was like,
Anis Mojgani 17:51
because that's like, I recognize that and, oh, here's this poem of his, you know, he's, he's writing about loving this, this piece of music from Brahms. Okay, but then you just start seeing more and more poems like that. And I was like, this is kind of wild to just sort of like, just look at it as an experiment of looking at a person's life. That's kind of RAD. Yeah, I don't know.
Fiona McCann 18:16
I'm glad you brought it back to love as well because I feel like that's where we started and then suddenly, we were all in the pits of despair we just talked for so long. Wait, we spoke with love poems? Whatever happened to the love Okay, well
Anis Mojgani 18:31
let's see. Um, even though this book like you know, I think is one that's burst out of heartbreak like it's it's not really about heartbreak it's just like about how to how do I learn to love better you know, essentially let's see what
Fiona McCann 18:52
I love the sound of page turning.
Eden Dawn 18:53
I know isn't that a good sound and isn't really good sound.
Anis Mojgani 18:57
I'll read this one was called
It was a Tuesday.
I spilled like a pitcher of morning sun tipping over into what had been night had risen at six and was at the convention center by sun up 8am said poems into a ballroom on East Chavez and before nine walked out the buildings marble steps into the rest of the day, watched Apollo break plates over downtown Austin and pour into Ladybird. I used to live here, kiss the river with her and our bicycles off my shirt picked the ladybugs. While here I dropped off divorce papers at the house where she was staying. Kristin drove me there said to me in the front seat, homie. If you need to rub your junk all over those papers before putting them in the mailbox. No judgment. Kristen squealed the tires when we left under the whispering sky to blue to speak of eight burgers in the sunlight. Blood was wiped from my chin. Later I night biked through my old neighborhood, passing the amber porch at Annie's I came upon a Halloween party overflowing with Lights and bodies, both with their ochre filaments glowing like joyful soil in a repurposed urn off the porch we spilled now like evening sun, all of us did flooded our dusk into the night like witches grins, we paraded through the thin streets, found ourselves outside the Oakwood Cemetery almost midnight, and the moon and unstruck nickel broke into the graveyard broke back out by kissing my chest to the bottom of the chain link fence squeezed out to the space between its teeth and the ground. Just did what I had to do to move my body back out the death yard smelled honey counted pretty teeth, scraped cloth but no skin and out of the dark dirt pulled the rain Lily, the Texas and October Earth was rich with them.
Eden Dawn 20:48
I love it. Also. Thank you. Kristen is a good friend.
Anis Mojgani 20:52
Kristen is a good friend, Kristen is is one of the the best humans that I've had the gift of knowing in my life.
Eden Dawn 21:01
Yeah, you can tell
Fiona McCann 21:02
Did you take her advice, no judgment.
Anis Mojgani 21:04
I didn't. It was it was it was enough to have the suggestion for her placed into my invitation.
Fiona McCann 21:14
What's interesting about that, in a way that poem obviously takes place in a finite space of time, right? And so And was that like a kind of choice where you're like, I'm gonna write this poem from sunup to sunset.
Anis Mojgani 21:26
I'm, I'm trying to remember if it was like, because usually, like when I write, it's not me looking from the outside and and saying, like, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to like experiment with doing this. Yeah. It's more that I've come across whatever it is, is been thrown down onto the page, and I start like moving it around. I remember in that day itself, that's right, that the poem I think got birthed out of something like I'd posted, like on Facebook or Twitter, something that was like, you know, just kind of like these bullet points of the day, and was making note within that, oh, I had such a poet's day today, I woke up and I did these poems like I was awake, before the sun came up, said these poems into this ballroom for this, like some business conference got divorced. She was like, Yeah, dropped off these divorce papers, just wandered on my bicycle, like, stumbled into this party, we broke through a graveyard. And then, like, pulled up these flowers, you know, like it was it was just sort of like this observation of the day as a whole. So there definitely was an aspect when whatever it was about that piece of writing or whatever writing I did afterwards, that was in conversation with it, that was drawn to, oh, I want to talk about this this day, you know, that was like,
Fiona McCann 22:47
so on the nose that you were like, dropping off divorce. I know. You're like, and now I'm going to crawl out of a summit. I am living a poet's life where everything is an invitation to metaphor. And like well done, and are you constantly just walking by like cemeteries are like they like delivery wards? Like, I'm just gonna place myself here for a sec. So,
Anis Mojgani 23:10
you know, I think like, one of the things that I love about metaphors is that they're just always yammering at us. We're just plagued and surrounded by them. That's something that I just love about writing
Eden Dawn 23:23
I'm fascinated about how you write because I feel like my career as a writer has primarily been journalism, which is going to clock in at a time and being like, this is the story I am I'm under deadline, I need to interview these sources. I need to track down this research. But it's very job like, yeah, and I don't, but but I feel like I mean, I know yours is serious, and it's a job and you have an office and you go to your space. But when it's something like that, when you have a day like that the next day do you wake up and you go, I need to write all of these down because this is going to be a thing or do you do wait for inspiration to strike? Are you forcing yourself to be cataloging your feelings as you go? How do you do it?
Anis Mojgani 24:03
It’s kind of a mix of all those, I tend to approach the act of writing as job like, there was something that in Stephen King's book on writing, he says something about having this, this specific time that you show up, because then at least like the Muse always knows where to find you should it should it decide to join you, you know, over the years for me, it's been important for me to kind of like sculpt and shape, some sort of schedule. And it's been in flux ever since 2020, when things kind of like everything. But like, by and large, like I like to sit somewhere outside of my house in the morning and be present with whatever is going to happen. And if that's like from scratch, then it's basically just sort of like me, typing my fingers and seeing what what for pulls out, seeing how that conversation starts expanding outwards and then starting to see like, oh, well, what's the shape of this conversation? Is this speaking to something that is outside of the conversation? And if so, like, how do I bridge those things?
Eden Dawn 25:13
The way you talk about it so interesting, though, because don't you feel like he speaks of it so much like, you're an observer, though, it's you, you feel it seems like you feel like you're a guest. The writing
Anis Mojgani 25:22
very, very much like that's, that's, that's such an interesting, wonderful way to put it like being a guest to it. And, and being an observer of oneself, like, a thing that I love about writing is that I get to be the writer of a thing, but I also get to be its first reader, there are two different things
Eden Dawn 25:41
That just kind of fucked me up. I know that like I do, I like that a lot. That's really great. I always feel it's such an honored position to be in when someone you care about lets you read their thing first, if you own is working on a thing, or I'm doing anyone, and they're like, Would you read this thing and give me your thoughts? I always feel like it's such a special place. So when you're like you get to be the first reader of it. And like we're first readers first. We're the honored guests and chosen ones for ourselves.
Anis Mojgani 26:13
100%. You know
Eden Dawn 26:14
I’m gonna talk about you in therapy this week!
Fiona McCann 26:18
Therapy, that's when you know you've made Yeah,
Anis Mojgani 26:21
and so, but typically is someone who reads or performs or shares my work to audiences and in person, how I want them to engage with the work is how I want myself to engage with the work as a reader of it. And so, if each time I pick it up, I'm reading it for the first time, then there are perhaps ways in which the poem will reveal itself to me in ways that it's never revealed itself to me.
Fiona McCann 26:48
Well, and one of the things I think that you are so well known for is performing your poetry, right. And I mean, my introduction to poetry through ancient Dead Poets. I never saw Emily Dickinson read, for example,
Eden Dawn 27:02
well, you're not a true fan.
Fiona McCann 27:05
As a matter of great regret to me, but it was so hard to get tickets, no. And so I only have interactions with her when I think of Emily Dickinson. It's that interaction with the page with the shape of the physical words on the page with the voice in my head, which is not Emily Dickinson's, or is it?
Eden Dawn 27:23
We don't know. We don't know. Yeah. And yet
Fiona McCann 27:26
you have this thing that you create, and then you put it on the page, and then you say it, does it change what the art is, in that moment? Does it change the poem? Does it change the work?
Anis Mojgani 27:37
I mean, like, I can only imagine that there is an aspect that it does. Yeah, you know, that. Over the years, there's, you know, been folks that have come up to me and, you know, said that they can now only read my work with my voice in their head me or that they like, you know, yeah, reading it isn't the same as hearing me say it. So there's definitely like, I think like, at times a relationship to that specifically for folks.
Fiona McCann 28:09
When I read your work, it's going to be Emily Dickinson's voice just,
you know, that's the way
Eden Dawn 28:14
how did you learn your poetry voice, because it is so distinct. I love to read your poem so much. And I AQ, it brings me such joy and such energy to it that really honestly made me appreciate poetry differently, because I can hear the light from it. But you must, I mean, you do know that it changes how people feel about it, or it makes people fell away to hear you. So how do you do that? At what point were you like, this is how I read poetry?
Anis Mojgani 28:41
Well, I mean, like, it's been an ongoing journey. Like how I read it now feels pretty, pretty rooted in the now. But I don't know, it might be different in five years, because I know that it's different from how I read it, when I was 20. And how I read it when I was 30. So there was you know, and there were like, specific points on that, that journey that sort of were me engaging with trying to understand how it was that I wanted to, to share work, when I was younger, and first getting into reading my work aloud to people. There were a number of like, at that time, it was just sort of like like the internet was such a baby. And so the only thing that I had in Savannah, Georgia was like, recordings off of a CD of poets, poets competing in poetry slam and, and so, you know, that was like a big part of shaping and showing me how a person might do this. And so that kind of like filtered into like, oh, well, you know, I get excited from hearing this, this passion and this excitement, and just like this coolness in some of these poets, but it just it didn't feel in sync with like, the soft quietness of what was at the heart of The poll like even if the poem was like, loud and fast and boisterous was like, but at its heart, it's just doing this little thing. And then there's this artifice that just feels sort of like, flashy or
Eden Dawn 30:12
It’s abfancy world. And it feels like we carry some of the fears of the fanciness
Anis Mojgani 30:16
100%, you know, and there was like, I remember, there was a poet at that time, named Reeves. And the thing that I really loved about Reeves, his work was that he would, he always felt as if, like, whatever was being said, in conversation was in the same manner that he would say things on stage. And I was like, how do you do that. And so I started very much like just trying to, I don't know, chip away that coat and quiet myself and center myself. But even with those things aside, that there was an aspect were coming into this space, if I was just sort of like approaching about, like, I'm reading this right now for the first time, and I don't know what will happen, which is what I want, because like, then perhaps I will be affected by this. If I'm affected by this, then other people will be affected by seeing another person affected by this. And so that, that started, that wasn't like the original intention. But like, by trying to get myself to just like, be more myself on stage, it revealed itself. And so that then became a far larger part of like, oh,
Eden Dawn 31:29
it makes me feel at ease so much as an audience member because you feel so comfortable. And it isn't in that like, the 1000 times the sun hats, you know, yeah, it's so comfortable. It's that thing you were talking about of Reeves getting up? Because I remember and I will hold this memory of you in my heart. You watching you perform. It was the first time I ever laughed at poetry. Yes. Which I never have. Because it feels so serious. And I remember laughing and feeling like that, like church laugh feeling were like, oh, like, am I gonna get smacked by somebody? Like, am I allowed to do poetry? You laughed at poetry, and it felt so good.
Anis Mojgani 32:07
I mean, that's, that's the thing that that Derrick Brown, like, he does super, super well, that I always loved about his work, like when I started being introduced to him was that he would, you know, because he's got like, sometimes in his poems, he's just got like, weird humor. Like humor, you're like, like that, that church luagh? You're like, my
Fiona McCann 32:31
funny, I like it's funny. So
Anis Mojgani 32:32
he does this trick, kind of like what you were saying about how him how he started off by like, saying, you know, in this very serious poet voice, like he'll do these things that kind of deflate the tension by like, making somebody sort of like, laugh at a thing that they have to laugh at. So that then they feel like they're allowed to laugh at other things, or that they're also allowed to feel Yeah, you know, like, it opens the Labrador and also, like, opens up the heart chambers. Yeah.
Eden Dawn 33:04
And then jacks you up. Go listen to the Derrick Brown episode, if you have not, because he talks about it, like he is perfecting these on purpose. He's
Anis Mojgani 33:12
so good at that. And that was like a thing, I think that was like, Oh, the way in which the Derrick is sort of playing with, you know, expectations that people have, when they hear a poem or expectations that people have when they step into a space, he does a really beautiful, unique job of disarming all those things. So that folks can, hopefully these will just like, be existing listening.
Eden Dawn 33:39
Tell us because summer is upon us about Poems at Sunset Out a Window
Anis Mojgani 33:44
So this was a thing that that I've been doing that started up a little more than a year ago, like last March, at a burst out of a conversation between me and my friend, Jen, we started this thing called Poems at Sunset Out a Window. And what it is, is me reading poems at sunset out of the window of my art studio in Southeast Portland. And it's, it's literally just that, and yeah, folks show up and throw down their chairs or stand quietly or sit on blankets or the ground and is the thing that didn't know what was going to happen with it. I remember that first one, I had no idea who was going to show up, I had been missing what it meant to have a relationship with sharing work to one's local community. And also, you know, since the pandemic had begun was trying to explore what it meant to to share work in alternative ways, like both with regards to kind of like how do we do this, like safely in a pandemic, but also just as an artist, like being pushed to be like, alright, well, what, what, what are the ways that we could like
Eden Dawn 34:51
gather, I mean, again, I feel like it's the thing that you're so good at is making poetry accessible for people because I've been and I love it and you know what, exactly what it is to me especially as we all know, many musicians, it's house party shows, you know what I mean? Like nothing is the same as when you're younger you go to a house party, where you're all crowded in somebody's living room or like a gross basement and people are bands are playing, and you love it. And it's never the same as like going to a proper venue. Yeah, that's how I felt when I was literally sitting in the street with some stranger's like chubby dog laying on me. And I was so happy. And I was like, this is, this is the Portland that I love. And
Anis Mojgani 35:31
which is like, you know, I was just talking with someone yesterday about this about how like, you know, that was a thing that after, like, the first few ones, few folks who couldn't be like, it felt like the Portland that I that I used to love, and which was, you know, something really, really sweet to hear. But also like something that like felt like very kind of like revealing of just like, oh, well, what are the ways in which we, any of us, all of us can think about like, well, what's what do we want in a city that we live in? Yeah, do we have a responsibility? And do we have a responsibility? Do we have the capability to build it and like the building of it can happen in like, large ways but can also have been to like really small way totally.
Eden Dawn 36:13
You don't have to be on city council exact change in your community, you can open your window and breaks that you have, which is like, you have cool friends, you have poems that
Fiona McCann 36:25
that particular event as well as that it's right, I have a daughter who goes to that school. And sometimes I imagine the poetry sort of diffusing out onto the playground, and then all the kids kind of coming in the next day and somehow absorb that, oh, that's breathing it in. And even if they weren't there, there's just poetry in the air around them. And that's such a lovely thought. I mean, like,
Eden Dawn 36:48
Peak Irish statement
Anis Mojgani 36:51
that kind of like to finals back to me, because it's like, I'm in that studio space when there's no one on the street. And like, I'm not doing poems at the window. But there are like, the kids yeah, happening. And like so over this last year, just kind of looking up and sometimes just watching the fascinating stories and dramas that unfold on the play. And like, there's multiple recesses over the day. And so there's just like, constantly, you know, like, I remember I was like, I looked up, and there was just like some kid running around with the trashcan. Over the top
Fiona McCann 37:25
Thar one wasn't mine
Anis Mojgani 37:29
jogging along through the yard until at some point, some other kid like, ran full force and like threw themselves of course at the kid in the trash can, you know, like, just trash can wars?
Eden Dawn 37:39
You never played trash can wars. Oscar the Grouch IRL.
Anis Mojgani 37:45
So yeah, it's just been, it's been a sweet, special thing for me. And particularly to see just like how it's unfolded. I love getting to do it.
Eden Dawn 37:54
I love getting to chat, we'll make sure we direct everybody to Instagram so they know when to go so they can be part of it. And if they want to come out to Portland this summer for people who aren't here, get on here. Why not?
Anis Mojgani 38:06
Fiona McCann 38:07
Why not? And nice. I know. I could we could talk to you all day about poetry. As it turns out, I know it does actually turn out. But we do have to wrap up although it's not every day we get a poet laureate in our office or Miss America or Miss America. I spend every day with Miss America
Eden Dawn 38:25
she's not talking about me.
Fiona McCann 38:31
she's talking about someone else who else so do I spend all my time with. But thank you again so much for joining us and for sharing your work. I want to let everybody know that they can see your website is at thepianofarm.com. And also, when can we expect the new book The new
Anis Mojgani 38:47
book which is called The Tigers, They Let Me I think is out like June 23 or something like that with that soon, sometime in the next like three four weeks it'll be out. Write Bloody Publishing.
Fiona McCann 39:00
So keep an eye out for that. And also you can follow Anis and also same post about upcoming shows and videos on his Instagram which is @thepianofarm and follow him on Twitter @mojgani. And that's it from We Can’t Print This for today. You can see more information about these episodes, including transcripts, which are a lot of work. So please have a look. And links to things we talked about wecantprint.com and also you can check out our Instagram stories at we can print this for all the visuals to we're also on Twitter, of course. We'll see how long this lasts.
Eden Dawn 39:39
Thank you to our producer Miranda Shaffer and to our friend Dave Depper for our intro music. This podcast was recorded at The Writers’ Block in downtown Portland, Oregon. And big thank you to our third officemate Richard Ritchie for building out the We Can’t Print This newsletter template that's now coming your way each month with all the fun bits possible. We'll put some good stuff from a nice in there too.
Fiona McCann 40:03
Yeah, it'll be fun. And if you happen to be a writer with a really great behind the story story or a great story, anything great. Please write to us and firstname.lastname@example.org You never know you could get on.