Hi Elizabeth, can you tell us a bit about what you've been up to lately?
Hello all my tender loves! Thanks for this interview!...I am currently on a train, headed to
Bordeaux to play a La Casette music show at Maison Pip. Last night I slept in Paris, one of my
favorite cities in the world, second only to NYC, of course! I’m on tour for my most recent album,
Orchid Mantis, released in February of 2017. Most of this year I will be touring in support of this
album. I am currently editing a chapbook which I hope to publish in late 2017/18. I also am
continuing to work on my visual art, painting and illustration and collaborating with other musicians
and videographers. At the end of this year, I plan to go back into the studio to start recording my
What is moving you at this moment?
What is moving me...the train...(haha, i apologize in advance for all my dad jokes)...ok, seriously
though, always and forever, my fellow creatives are who moves me. This question will have the
longest answer because along with being a poet, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and a visual
artist, I am a mass consumer of art and there are a hodgepodge of amazing influences in Brooklyn
from which to draw.
Currently, I'm listening to the oh-so-tender music of Tica Douglas (JOEY, Summer Valentine). Tica
has a new album coming out this month called Our Lady Star of the Sea, Help and Protect Us; I can't wait
to return to Brooklyn and get my hands on that! Also, I'm obsessed with the album Tobira
Arimoshinai by Japanese folk band, Momotsubaki. It is gentle-life music and reminds me a bit of one
of my favorite composers, Yann Tierson. Momotsubaki has their own flavor though, dynamic
rhythms and harmonies that tickle the brain and a soothing, peaceful pairing of thoughtful male and
female vocals. It's great music for introspection, relaxation and thought.
The photographers Alex Norelli and Charles Lavoie. Alex runs a fantastic independent press called
Blue Pear Projects, which publishes small-edition, art zines and publishes a killer Instagram
@lightisabettergod. Charles Lavoie has worked with me on several projects including my last two
music videos for Orchid Mantis’ songs, The Field and Cold Sweat. He also did the album art/
photography for Orchid Mantis. Lavoie has some great NYC street pics, a party-people-portrait
project, called Exuberance, and a series focused around worshipping plants and light, called Komorebi.
I really dig all of his work.
The other visual artists that are in my current pool of inspiration are best referred to via Instagram:
@_stavro_, @connieroseart88, @aluckyrabbit, @icyandsot, @frank_ape, @nyssa_art. I also have a
very personal relationship with the artist @rolandandfriends. Many of these are both gallery AND
street artists; they are bridging the gap. The transient nature of Brooklyn and it's inhabitants seems
best represented by this type of visual expression because the nature of street art is one of an
urgent, fleeting present.
Despite my very heavy suitcase stuffed with merch to sell on tour, I managed to haul with me to
Europe The Brooklyn Poets Anthology, edited by Brooklyn Poetry Workshop's Jason Koo, and Joe Pan
of Brooklyn Arts Press. It is an epic collection of poets living and writing in Brooklyn, 391pages of
literary delight! I have many hours on the train ahead of me so, it's worth the haul. To name a few
of my faves, the anthology includes poems by Marina Blitshteyn, Jay Deshpande, Morgan Parker,
Bianca Stone, Timothy Donnelly, Amber Atiya and Natalie Eilbert. I'm familiar with about 20% of
the poets in here from hosting a poetry reading series, The Highwaymen NYC, between 2012-14 but
there are a bunch of new ones too! A few other Brooklyn poets, not in here, that are moving are Rangi
McNeil, Mike Lala, Montana Ray...oh!...and Julia Guez and Samantha Zighelboim - these two are
amazing poets but also have been co-translating the work of Costa Rican poet, Luis Chaves. I
attended a reading a while back of these translations, it's delicious stuff! Also, I believe Samantha is
coming out with her debut collection of poems, THE FAT SONNETS, with Argos Books in
2018...I have read a few of those too, looking forward to the whole manuscript...and the Chaves,
once it is completed. Gosh, I could go on forever but will stop there. There is so much talent, so
What is your relationship to poetry?
My relationship to poetry is interpersonal and life-long. My introduction to poetry was via my dad's
old poetry anthologies found on the family bookshelf, left from my dad’s college days as an English
Lit major. As a child, I idolized Anne of Green Gables and through this, discovered Alfred Noyes
and Tennyson. My parents used to read me TS Eliot and Shel Silverstein before bed, so around age
7, I committed McCavity the Mystery Cat and Hungry Mungry to memory. As I passed into tween-dom,
poetry represented freedom, my very own, literary James Dean. Poetry was sexy and the perfect
relationship; it required nothing of me that I didn't already want to give and offered endless
possibilities along with a healthy dose of stick-it-to-the-man potential...and who doesn't love being
a little-contrary-badass when toppling through high school? I remember skipping my AP classes to
sneak into the school’s creative writing workroom to read submissions and write. It was the best
place to be and it was positive since I ended up becoming the Editor-and-Chief of the school’s Lit
Mag. In my mid to late teens/early 20’s, when I began to seriously start writing music and lyrics, my
love of literature allowed that expression to excel and inspired songs that don't adhere to a
traditional verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus song structures. The metaphors and stories which
live in popular culture and literature are often catalysts for the stories in my songs. I adore sordid
biblical and mythology stories and also can be inspired by a good newspaper headlines, utilizing
these to illuminate the situation and/or emotion I'd like to relay. Using the literature metaphorically,
in turn makes the song lyrics more accessible...because, I think most people, even if they don't know
it, have this internalized knowledge of these common stories. So, in this way, we meet in the
Can you remember the first words (ie. poem, story, lyric) you fell in love with?
The Lady of Shallot by Tennyson and Shakespeare prologues, my favorites are Much Ado About
Nothing and Romeo and Juliet... “Sigh no more ladies, sigh no more..."
What is your earliest memory of writing poetry?
Aside from the "Roses are Red, Violet's are Blue" poems of grade school that my mom has glued in
a book somewhere...the earliest memory might be second grade? I dragged around one of those
black and white composition books and wrote poems inside, lines, thoughts and a novel. Oh my
god, this is so funny to think of now. I believe it was a suspenseful, murder-mystery with a
florescent-pink-scrunchy-wearing protagonist. Oh! And mind you, this was all written with my
multi-colored, Lisa Frank pen.
Can you describe your current writing process?
Write now, excavate and edit later and “LET’S DO THIS!” —>Writing begets writing, sleep begets
sleep, joy begets joy. I surround myself with people who produce work that inspires me and then
commit to producing work frequently.
Where do your poems come from?
My poems come from what and who is around me. My city, my definition of self, are very relative
to what is containing me, pushing me, suspending me, propelling me forward. I try not to think
about it too much. There are far too few hours in the day usually to accomplish all the things I wish
to do so, I try to avoid over thinking and just try to leave time for "let's do this!" My poetry comes
from action, movement, doing, if that makes sense?
How does poetry connect us as human beings?
Society and therefore a large part of our humanity, are rooted in an oral tradition and the written
word. Joe Pan summed it up best in the foreword of the Brooklyn Poets Anthology...”Poetry, like any
art form, is a product of the individual complicated by their time—poems speak to our values and
identities, here in this second decade of a new millennium, to our fears, our injustices, our bodies,
our loves and commitments, our various norms and transgressions, to our humor, to our unrests.
Yet I expect a reader twenty years down the road will find that these poems speak to them as well,
because although a poem is formed in one era, its broader investment is in humanity and language
and those concerns over time probably won’t vanish, but more likely deepen.”
What is the path of love?
Lots of cuddling, empathy, honesty, constance, physical activity and several strong cups of coffee.
What is the path of fear?
Self-doubt, narcissism, fear, more than three cups of coffee a day.
What is your biggest question for the world? If you have one...
Yes! Could someone please tell me how I can be in a position to co-write a book of poetry with Neil
What is your dream for the world?
My dream for the world is that everyone's day begin and end with a George Takei tweet.
Who would you like to see interviewed on We The Tender Hearted?
Any and all of the people I mentioned above<3...and if we are talking about fictional people...a
young Jeff Goldblum, circa 1993, but only as the character of Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park.
Photographs by Dani Fine
Interview Conducted: May 2017
Find more from Elizabeth at: @elizabeth.devlin