Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with nat raum from Issue 9, Cut/Copy/Paste: The Remix! Find their poem “cytotopography” in our ninth issue!
Tiny Spoon: What was your process for engaging with the Cut/Copy/Paste Remix? How did you choose what to keep or what to omit?
nat: Having worked in the past with erasure fragments, I found a lot to draw from in the issue. I started by reading the issue and marking pieces I found interesting. Traditional erasure isn’t all about having interesting words; it’s also about having enough connective tissue to make them work. But since I was reconstructing fragments from multiple pieces into one piece, interest definitely played a large part in my selections, as did euphony.
Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?
nat: I consider myself an artist before I consider myself a writer in that most of my writing practices don’t differ much from my art practice. I took a class in early undergrad about using “any medium necessary” to accomplish something creatively, and treat my poetry as a medium within that practice. So my creativity comes out in many ways, and is mostly kindled by my lived experience. Most of my work starts with something I observed, often woven into a memory.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists, heroines, idols & friends that you look up to?
nat: My photographic idol is absolutely Nan Goldin. I’ve always really related to her practice of documenting the people and places around her every day and find myself emulating her in some way or other basically always. I definitely look up to many of my fellow editors and artists as well, considering many people who started as collaborators to be close friends now. To name just a few wonderful creatives and friends, check out the artwork of Sarah Eckstine, Hyacinth Schukis, and Nick Norman, and the writing of Rachael Crosbie, Charlie D’Aniello Trigueros, Clementine Williams, and Andrew Daugherty. I also want to give a special shoutout to Kelsey Sucena, who’s both an artist and a writer, and someone whose work I recently published that I admire.
Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?
nat: I would say not in any specific way, beyond experiencing nature through visiting my parents’ house in the forests of Baltimore County and my extended family in Appalachia. The other thing I would say is that often, my imagery begins with (or touches) the way light is behaving, and I think that comes naturally to me as someone who studied photography for my undergraduate degree.
Tiny Spoon: We’d love insight into your creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?
nat: I’m somewhat of an obsessive maker. I typically have an idea for something and go right for it, stopping very little along the way. It’s definitely how I’ve been able to maintain such a consistent practice over time, but it does lead to a lot of things being tabled for later and never returned to. That being said, a lot of my recent work has involved explorations of the past that allowed me to return to those abandoned WIPs—childhood religious trauma in my chapbook ‘preparatory school for the end of the world’ (2021), substance use and femininity in my early 20s in my hybrid memoir ‘you stupid slut’ (2022), and objects as agents for memory in my chapbook ‘specter dust’ (2022). A professor of mine told me the past is unbelievably rich for inspiration through memory, and I definitely agree.
Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?
nat: I tend to have a lot going at once, but the project I’m working on most actively right now is a full deep dive into the idea of the digital archive. I’m searching my old social media posts and backup-drive documents and pictures from as far back as 2009, as well as working on erasures of novels I read as a teen. The final result of each work is a hybrid piece that combines a piece of writing with a digital collage. My work tends to be personal, but this is a very different kind of personal for me and it’s really exciting.
Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?
nat: Though I read a lot of great work and consume a lot of incredible art as an editor, I consequently rarely get to talk about how much I love music. I love ambient music—and really beyond just lo-fi, though I love lo-fi too. I’m constantly discovering new ambient artists, but my favorites consistently come from Jonny Nash, Suzanne Kraft, Virginia Aveline, and Suso Saiz. I’m also a huge fan of Glass Animals and Fall Out boy for their lyrics.
Tiny Spoon: Where can people learn more about what you do?
nat: My website is viewable at natraum.com, and I’m on Twitter and Instagram (@gr8earlofhell).