Five Questions with Jenn Marie Nunes
Kirby Johnson: In the current issue of NANO Fiction, you have three flashes from a series called Movie Nite. Can you tell our readers a little bit about this project?
Jenn Marie Nunes: This is a series inspired by images and situations from my dreams. I think dream logic and poetry logic are akin, and flash fiction, often indistinguishable from prose poetry, depends on images the way that dreams do. I have a lot of vivid recurring dreams and adventure dreams, and when I’m looking at these dreams from my awake place, I see them as little crystalline structures and writing about them is away of turning them around in my hands.
KJ: These stories all seem to center around heightened moments of disconnect, or failing. In “Act III,” the I is blinded by warmth and light and cannot see what the You is seeing. In “ACT VI” an I cannot connect with the You during a sex act, and in “ACT VII” the I and You cannot sync their superpowers. What draws you to writing these moments of extreme closeness that are impaired with such distance?
JMN: The simple answer is that these awkward disconnects manifest in my dreams. I almost never have dreams where I am actually flying or winning or getting the girl.
But of course these pieces aren’t totally true to the dream, so the other answer is partly that the disconnects are the tensions powering each piece and keeping it alight and partly that I’m fascinated with how people do and don’t connect with each other. I wonder if we ever really understand each other or are we always walking around sort of in parallel, moving through the same places and pointing out in the same directions, but actually engaging only with our own individual “forests of symbols” at every moment. Even when we’re holding hands as we do it.
KJ: I recently saw you read at the Sacred Grove reading series in Tuscaloosa, AL, and while reading from your chapbook, OBJECT REFERENCE NOT SET TO AN INSTANCE OF OBJECT (dancing girl press), you marked your body, and had audience members read portions of the text to create a call and response. You also invited other audience members to mark themselves while they listened. Can you tell us a little bit about creating an interactive performance like this?
JMN: The performance came first out of the fact that the poems essentially have three voices in them, and so I wanted to create that experience in a three-dimensional way when reading. It seemed important to implicate the audience in the reading as well because the poems deal, again, with our inabilities to connect across various boxes or binaries – or perhaps our ability only to connect via boxes and binaries. In particular, the poem “WILL THE LANGUAGE”, which is the one I do the marking during, is interested in the way our language inherently works on us on these ways.
KJ: Who are the writers (flash fiction or otherwise) that you most admire, and what qualities drew you to their work?
JMN: Who do you read? questions always feel so political and I’m not sure this speaks to the politics of it adequately. In any case, here are some writers-plus-particular-book that influenced these pieces in one way or another: Max Jacob (The Dice Cup, which I almost stole from the LSU library cuz you just can’t get a copy of it, but instead I left it for future me’s) because his little magics and playfulness and what lies beneath that; Italo Calvino (Invisible Cities) because his structure and how I could be happy walking through his cities forever and ever; Russell Edson (The Tormented Mirror) because elephants; and Aimee Bender (The Girl With the Flammable Skirt) because I said “fiction can be like this????” and it could.
Also, I’m currently reading an anthology of short stories in translation: Red is Not the Only Color: Contemporary Chinese Fiction on Love and Sex between Women (Ed. Patricia Sieber). I am inspired by the lyrical quality of these stories.
KJ: What are you working on now?
JMN: All the things. Among them several poetry projects and a never-ending science fiction novel.