Where words meet wounds, truth abounds; this is where Aimee Herman meets us. She writes about and says what we’d like to say but never say– we are weak where she is strong. She is brave and beautiful; exposing the innermost parts of being a woman, of being queer, of being human. There is a call for us to be more human and be less absorbed; to be more of a platform for change and contact. There are lines that hit the core, the core of us we try to ignore or sweep away; she is the catalyst for our confrontation. Or at least she will be if you listen to her.
When she responded to my email, with such steamy sincerity, I begin to believe that artists do actually still have a community. I began to recognize our humanity again, thankfully. As a result of our interaction, I look forward to being more human.
Want to dig deeper into what makes Aimee Herman? Go thee forth, poets and people.
What aspect of art feels the most authentic to you?
The most authentic part of art is breathing. I find that when I try to make it a certain way, it is no longer mine. It is no longer what I intended it to be. Sort of like breaths. Breathing just…happens, right? But then there are those moments when I am extremely aware of them. And I feel like suddenly I am forcing them or fumbling them into a different pace. Art is most authentic when it is permitted to just…happen.
What is your most cherished belonging?
My books. And please don’t make me choose one. Because although I love all my Bukowskis, I do love my “Testosterone Files” and Kathy Ackers and Claudia Rankine’s “Citizen” blew my mind into pieces I am still finding remnants of all over my apartment.
Where do you feel the strongest as a woman and as an artist?
I don’t really identify as a woman these days. More like a human, still gathering up my vocabularies. I feel strongest when I write a poem that feels like reclaimed skin. Or the discovery of a new bone behind other bones. I feel strongest when I forget about my anxieties and notice the brilliance of the Atlantic ocean or a moon so round, my cheeks and belly get jealous. My art is fueled by all these “notices”.
What is your art process like?
Again, I go back to breath and breathing. When I write, I bleed and bellow and procrastinate and it is messy and slow and breathtaking and boring. There are moments of furious typing and carving up of notebook pages. Even when I was using drugs, I always preferred sobriety when writing; unlike most times, I really revel in being deeply present when I write.
What is your vision/mission for your art?
I want to hear myself; I want others to hear me. I want to break through the walls of my discomfort and find peace through my writing. I think about times I have watched performances and the ones who have affected me the most have simultaneously made me uncomfortable. These are the moments where I was called to recalculate myself. I want to do this on the page and when I perform. I want to reconfigure gender and sexuality and the ways in which bodies and poetics can practice out loud.
Do you gravitate towards certain words or sounds, certain rhythms?
My writing is deeply bodily, so the words I often use are just that: bones, skin, suture, fissure, scar. I love the rhythms of a peeled-apart scab and the rush of colors called bruise or burnt back bend. I don’t curse a lot in real life, so the ones that find their way in my poems, tend to make it there because there is no other way to say it.
Do you prefer to work in the morning or the evening?
Who do you study and/or admire?
I am reading and studying “Bluets” by Maggie Nelson right now. Before that, I was devouring “The Racial Imaginary” co-edited by Claudia Rankine. This book dripped into me for days and when I was done, I wanted to weep and scream and rip pages and break down walls. I am still feeling the impact of each writer’s essay. I admire humans who can write about their lives in ways that open windows and conversations. I study bridges and breaks in the sky. I admire gender warriors (those who shatter my eyes with all the ways one can exist): Max Wolf Valerio. Ivan E. Coyote. Kate Bornstein. I admire those who can write about sex in ways I can understand and feel. I am just looking to feel.
What can you say about writing today or writing yesterday?
I can say that today, more and more spaces are being built for words that are less academic and more about experimentation of sound, disfigurement of form and cross-genre hybrid. Today, it is less about the gender you are and more about the heft of your words. That said, the publishing market is still skewed in many ways. But people are finding ways to get their words out there: self-publishing is a powerful avenue to take and no less important. I have mixed feelings about the internet and over-accessibility. But I am also deeply old-school with my non-fancy phone and extreme hesitance to social media myself. I am quite sure I was born in the wrong time. Writing is always going to be about the words. Language. And a sense of connecting. Whether it is with hundreds of people or millions of people or just simply (re)connecting with your self.
What is on the horizon?
For me? I am working on a new manuscript of poems. My second book, meant to wake up feeling (great weather for MEDIA) came out last year and I am so, so proud of it. I’ve also been working on a long story for seven years or so; I’d like to gift myself more time to work on it.
Find more of her work here.
WORDS BY Jacklyn Janeksela