Inseam: Logan February

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Hannah Schneider: Logan you have had so many fantastic projects debut seemingly one after another this year. Between How To Cook a Ghost, The Ellis Review and your newest collection Painted Blue with Salt Water. Any of those on their own are such impressive accomplishments, but all three is astounding. I am really amazed by your gorgeous, vulnerable poems, as well as your productivity. What is your work process like? How does your creative work fit in your schedule? How do go about prioritizing writing?

Logan February: Thank you! That's such a nice thing to hear, and  if I'm being honest, it's all so surreal to me. I think I put out so much writing because there's so much stuff I have to process. These two chapbooks are so important to me, like two fat chunks of my heart. And I can't take any credit for Ellis, it's a magnificent team effort, and I'm so lucky to work with such amazing people.

My work process is basically just write, write, write. I write so much, and scrap a lot of it. But then, I find some useful content that I transform into poems. I neglect some parts of my schedule to put writing (and reading) before other things, because I sincerely think my head would explode if I didn't. I'm pretty boring, so besides school, I don't have very much going on. But, of all the forms of art that I make, writing definitely has the highest priority.

How do your identity and experiences shape your writing?

I think, at the core, my writing is an investigation into my identity and self. Living in a country that criminalizes my sexuality, with a mental illness, and being from a very Christian home, and not sharing those beliefs, there's so much trauma to unpack. And so much healing to do. So that's where my writing is focused right now, I'm learning myself, and learning to notice the little things that create joy.

Where does a poem start for you?

Different poems start at different places, and that's one of the things that keeps poetry wonderful for me. Sometimes, it comes from the inside, like, an interesting thought or question pops into my head that I would like to explore. Sometimes, from the outside, like maybe a song, or a sticker somewhere, or just a really cool breeze. So I flesh out that idea, and ask it: “why did you come to me? what can I do with you? what can I learn from you?” Then I go forward from there.

What has been your experience being involved in this community internationally? What kind of perspective do you think this gives you?

It really doesn't feel as weird as it should. For as long as I can remember, I've felt like I live two lives, because in a mental space, I'm very removed from my physical surroundings. Largely, I'm drawn to engage with the international writing community because my subject matter is considered taboo here. So it's dangerous to publish here, unless I'm working with journals that seek to challenge our norms. I think it's really great that the community is so welcoming and healthy and supportive. And while the association with foreignness and whiteness is mostly frowned upon by society here, and though I know how toxic whiteness can be, I've been lucky to meet so many people from different races and places, and see that people really are beautiful and kind. It's a good thing to know, especially when home is a place that rejects me.

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What imagery is always showing up in your poems? Are there concepts that draw you in, in particular?

Well, I think it's pretty clear that I'm preoccupied with writing about death LOL. And complex family relationships, love, loss, longing, queerness, and faith. That's because these are issues that are constantly casting a shadow over me, and influencing my whole life. As for imagery, it usually is very directional and thematic for me, and it takes a couple of poems to properly explore an idea. Which is probably why I put collections together so often. Like a maniac.

What kind of perspective has editorial work given you?

Editing has been so important in my growth as a writer, in that it regularly gives me the opportunity to view subjects from a different lens than mine. So that leads me to experimentation. And I'm learning the beauty in simplicity, and to approach my own poems with a little less melodrama. I've also learned to appreciate poems even if they are outside of my aesthetic preferences.

Are there any writing rules that you reject? Any that you support?

One of the writing rules I hold on to is something I learned from Luther Hughes, who suggested that a writer should learn as many of the rules as they can, and then apply that knowledge in breaking those rules. So rule-breaking should be an intentional process. Another important rule is to trust process, and not to police what “good” writing is. If I reject any rule, it's that you don't get to write multiple poems that say similar things. It's okay to do that. A lot of poetry is used to work through stuff. Write that same poem as many times as it takes for it to heal you.

What are you reading / listening to lately?

I've only recently learned to take breaks from writing, to put my pen down and learn from the writing of others. And I have limited access to the books I would love to read, because of where I live, which is why I'm eternally grateful for online journals. I'm reading Danez Smith’s phenomenal Don't Call Us Dead, Charif Shanahan’s Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing, and Figroot Press’ Sappho tribute issue. I'm excited to go on to Rachel Custer’s The Temple She Became next week. And I'm constantly playing Lorde, Ibeyi, Harry Styles, The Strumbellas, and Lana Del Rey.

And finally, we always ask our inseam artists this, what do you do for self care?

I'm really not the best at self-care, but I'm learning the importance of self-love, celebrating others and being there for them, and meditation. I read a good book, remind myself to drink water (!!!), and remember that the future can be beautiful, even if my misfiring brain is telling me otherwise.

Hannah Schneider