AN INTERVIEW WITH KRISTIE SHOEMAKER
Kristie Shoemaker is a 22 year old self-described rotten little peach currently living in Brooklyn, New York. She hopes to one day transcend her corporeal form and live out the rest of eternity as a celestial orb dancing among the rings of Saturn.
Elizabeth Foster: Where are you from?
Kristie Shoemaker: A little south of Baltimore. It’s like a really shitty town that has like a Super Wal-Mart and a McDonalds. So, I say Baltimore because no one even knows that this place exists. I’ve been to Baltimore, but that was a very scary experience.
EF: Do you think where you live has had an effect on your writing?
KS: It just forces me to write more because there’s really not much else to do. Like, I will literally sit in the Wal-Mart parking lot in my car for hours writing on my phone. There is nothing else to do. You can sit in your house or you can sit in a parking lot. That’s about it.
EF: What was the feeling you had when you first found out someone wanted to publish your work?
KS: Just really excited and feeling like it was kind of worth it, I guess? I don’t write things to get published and have people read it. It’s more of a release to get whatever insane radio static going on in my brain out of there. It just feels nice that the things that I say can resonate with other people, that they actually take interest in reading it and relate to it. It feels comforting to know someone is feeling the same way as me, makes you feel less alone in your own head.
EF: Does the content of your poetry cause you to feel more vulnerable or empowered?
KS: I feel like all my writing is very stream of consciousness, like whatever mood I’m feeling. A lot of it is vulnerable. Last time I was in New York this stranger came up to me and asked if they could take my picture because they said that I looked very vulnerable. Like “that look”. Feels like having half of the thoughts in my head spilled out for people to read definitely puts me in an interesting position. I can let strangers in easier than someone who has a presence in my life, but then they don’t become strangers and it feels safe. It’s empowering in a sense because other people are taking notice and listening to what I have to say, but a vulnerability comes with that. It makes me feel things when people feel things about me, but then comes the ‘do you know too much, did I just word vomit all over you?' I try to keep my twitter/poetry shit separate from everything else. Or at least I try to because I feel like certain people won't really like the other half.
EF: Why do you write?
KS: It’s always been the way that I calm down. There are certain things that pop in my head that will cycle and twist and turn unless I put them down and turn them into something. It’s a way to kind of make my brain slow down a little bit and make sense of everything that’s happening. It’s kind of like a 9th grade journal, but written hopefully a little bit better.
EF: What would you say directly influences your work the most?
KS: Definitely the people in my life either past or present. I feel the majority of what I write is in relation to some person and the emotions they made me feel. It’s my way of making peace with someone in a sense… if I can’t say certain things to them. In terms of what else influences me it would probably be… I listen to a lot of Elliott Smith, so that’s the total cliché sad person, whatever. I think he writes really sad things in an undeniably beautiful way and when I listen to it I feel happier. It’s inspiring in a sense. Even if I’m having a miserable day I want to be able to write something that might come from from that place, but doesn’t make the reader feel as miserable as I might have felt when I was writing.
EF: What influence do you think the internet has had on your writing?
KS: The community is really inspiring. I really like to see what style and what ideas everyone has. I feel like everyone has a similar, but slightly different voice. I can’t consume enough. There’s so many outlets for people to just release anything that’s going on in their head at any time of the day. God knows I live on Twitter, which is either a really good thing or a really bad thing. It’s just nice to see what’s going on with other people, see how they interpret what’s happening in their world, how they write about it. It’s cool to get to know people without having the weird “getting to know someone” phase.
EF: How has being a woman in such a male dominated field affected you?
KS: Sometimes I feel smaller than I am. It could just be my own inner voice, but sometimes it does affect me. I know with the internet it’s really easy to just publish anything you want. You have the option to publish your own work and get your name out there, but it is difficult to get some recognition because at least in my experience I’ve noticed that some people will kind of push aside or belittle whatever emotions I’m writing about. It’s just a challenge. I like challenges. I mean, a lot of people are really warm and welcoming to it as well. It’s hard over all. I’m taking a men’s psychology class which is completely ridiculous, but the whole world is like that. It’s not just writing. You just have to either be awesome and make yourself feel awesome all the time or resign to the fact that the situation is what it is. As long as I keep myself above water then I try to not let it get to me so much.
EF: Do you think your work is viewed with a more critical eye than if you were male?
KS: I feel like it really depends on who’s reading it. I feel like this community is very receptive to just everyone. It’s really nice and reassuring that there are good people that appreciate work for what it is regardless of who is behind it. Branching outside of that I think it’s a completely different story. I know a lot of what I write about is extreme mood swings, feeling sad, relationship problems… all of that stuff. Some people would view it as just stupid little girly ramblings or whatever. It’s frustrating that not everyone is as receptive as the community is, but I am hoping that one day people will stop being so full of themselves.
EF: Are you working on any projects currently?
KS: Currently I am working (slowly because of life) on a secret amazing online project with Catch Business and other wonderful people. I would really like to actually spend a lot of time writing and editing an actual ebook. The one that I put out I put together really quickly because I just wanted to make something. I had been telling myself for months that I was going to do it and I never did. I was like, “I need to do this tonight or I’m going to feel horrible" so I threw it together. I like how it turned out, but I would like to make something more substantial. I’m writing more in a journal to hopefully turn into ‘something’ by the end of the year. I really want to collaborate with someone on something too, so that might be on my radar as well.
EF: Do you think you’ll be writing for a long time?
KS: That’s a hard question. I’d like to think that I’ll be writing for a long time. I kind of go through phases where I write a lot and I’ll be insanely productive and creative and feel really good about what I’m writing. Then I’ll go months without writing anything and something will happen that snaps me out of it. Then I’ll cycle back through it again, so I feel like I’ll be writing to some extent for a long time. I’d like to make it a little more balanced so I’m not manically writing 500 poems in a week then not writing anything for three months. If I’m not writing poetry I definitely want to do something in the writing field, like be around books. I work in a bookstore now. That’s definitely not a career, but it’s a nice relaxing atmosphere. As long as I am surrounded by books in my life I’ll be happy.