Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Alex Wasalinko from Issue 8, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Original! Read her poem, “Apocalypse Next Tuesday” in our eighth issue!
Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?
Alex: I love finding an image, a word, a piece of art, even a corny tabloid heading that moves me to think How can I include this in my work? It was never intentional, but found language and objects are often the entryway to my flow. So much of my writing and art begins with repurposing and repositioning the pieces of inspiration I find into new contexts. Being out in the world and taking lots of walks gives me so much material–either physical things I can interweave into a bigger project or some fresh perspective to get everything down on paper. Creativity for me comes when I gather these pieces together, kind of like a treasure hunt.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to?
Alex: One of my all-time favorite writers is Sarah Ruhl. I read Melancholy Play early in the pandemic and purposefully took extra time to move through it because I never wanted it to end. I’m also a giant fan of Adrienne Rich’s poetry, and she has really shaped how I approach writing. In terms of the Big Figures who influence me, Ruhl and Rich make the top of the list. I’m wildly fortunate to have circles of friends who are some of the most brilliant people that I’ve ever met, in their art, the way they move through the world, their dedication, their care. Honestly, I look up to each of them daily.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?
Alex: The first thing that comes to mind is flowers. So much of my work circles back to flowers. They’re steadfast. And I know it’s not “natural” in the same way flowers are, but I think I would categorize a city as a natural entity here, too. I live in Philadelphia at the moment and I’ve written more in the relatively short time I’ve lived here than maybe ever before, and so much of it comes back to moments, sights, sounds, all the little entities that have moved me around the city. It’s the street art and graffiti, the nonstop construction that pops up overnight that reshapes the landscape, even commuting on the El train from 30th Street–it got to a point that I was writing so much either while waiting for the train or on it that my phone began to suggest I open my notes app pretty consistently around the time I commute. Not all the sensory elements that I encounter appear in my writing, but there’s something electric about it that gets me into a flow.
Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?
Alex: My piece that appears in Issue 8, “Apocalypse Next Tuesday ” came about pretty differently compared to my collages, poetry, or hybrid work. It began from a devising writing group I joined in the spring of 2021 with some former college classmates and mutual friends. We always kicked off our writing sessions with idea brainstorms and word association games to generate some raw, fresh material. “Apocalypse Next Tuesday” was first drafted as an impossible stage direction activity–where the laws of nature cannot limit what happens on the stage–using some of the elements from my list of items from the collaborative brainstorms. Then, like almost all of my pieces, I let it rest until I was ready to make it into something fuller and (hopefully) more refined. At the core though, the process had a similar start, of taking a small occurrence and thinking “Okay, now how can I build something full from this phrase?”
Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?
Alex: I’ve been itching to get back into my Internet Oddity zine series, which takes the very mysterious yet lyrical Google search results for robo call numbers or exact searches for unusual word pairings. It’s a trippy time, but I really love extracting the weirdness of it all. Next time you get a random spam call, I highly recommend exact searching the number to see what pops up.
In terms of publications, I’m revising some works to send out for some open calls. Ideally, before the end of 2022, I want to have some kind of manuscript ready to be sent out. Fingers crossed. I have a poem appearing in Perennial Press’s anthology force / fields, which I’m super excited about!
Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?
Alex: I recently revisited Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, and highly recommend, especially if you watched the show. I find the book to be more hopeful, but then again I didn’t get past two episodes of the series so maybe I need to be proved wrong here lol.
If music is your speed, I’ve been on a very big Dr. Dog kick lately, and always recommend them if you’re looking for some fun beats and witty lyrics. They’re masters of their craft.
Art–I always recommend my favorite artist Phoebe Anna Traquair’s The Progress of a Soul series. They’re massive silk embroidered tapestries that are simply breathtaking. Every few months I return to them for some inspiration.
Tiny Spoon: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?
Alex: I don’t think I formally gave my little artist statement introduction so: I’m a poet by way of training, but in practice I consider myself a more interdisciplinary and self-taught writer-artist. Much of my work begins as an experiment. Sometimes it takes off and sticks with me, a lot of times it doesn’t, and I’ve learned that’s okay. I’m happy with how my work and my approach to creating evolved over the past couple of years. It feels really wonderful to be making and to have the space to do so, a sentiment I acknowledge regularly.
Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?
Alex: At the moment only my instagram. It’s a dumping ground for anything I’m working on and some process reflections, announcements, etc. Maybe in 2022 I’ll finally launch a website, or a Patreon? The only way you’d know if that will happen is if you follow my IG!