Editor Interviews | Chloë Thompson


Chloë Thompson is a proto-southern queer poet eating from the hands of her loved ones on the dusty floors of Maryland and in the deep greens of Oregon. She is the author of the self-published poetry collection Badzooka Joe and makes albums. she opens the crypt at LoveSexGodTalk and is the Bean Bag Captain at Open Seas Coffee.

Pardon me for taking your needle, pardon me for threading the needle with your body, pardon me for love, pardon me for I am what I am, and I do not know what this means.

Leonora Carrington

What does this quote mean to you?

I’m deeply religious in the way that I believe in bodies and the unknown, and I’m always looking for works of literature outside the Bible that manage to find a way to make the physical and the disappearing remain prescient. Many different kinds of faith seekers came before me and used their words to explain mystical traditions, selfless acts, and transcendence of the body. Artists like Carrington remind me that all the ideas we have about what words and bodies can do can never be finalized; but instead, constantly create warmth as they remain in a state of continuous germination. The flesh, the word, and knowing need each other. I also just really like this quote because it reminds me of a great drill song called “I Am What I Am” by an incredible Chicago rapper named King Von who was tragically murdered in 2020. This congruency of words, mirroring throughout time, is an essential reminder that all art is atemporal and begins communications within worlds that are not expected to overlap.  

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

I’m going to make this embarrassingly Christian really quick and then get to some “real” books… if I’m going Old Testament, the Book of Ruth. I read this story because it reveals the sanctity of loving whatever kind of mother you got and of sleeping at a lover’s feet. If I’m going New Testament, 1 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians is a sacred text that is part of a huge black intellectual tradition wherein the scope of oppression could be dimmed in comparison to the vastness of love. This letter of the apostle Paul gives me faith in my Blackness because black people have somehow managed to turn a damning letter demanding that believers shore up their spiritual praxis into a love note that requests seeing others as one sees the self. I could fall asleep in this passage, specifically 1 Corinthians 13, and feel like I was floating on a little pink cloud. In fact, I may have had this experience before. In some form.I have been chastised by friends and mentors alike for being a little too into long books by old white men but I aim to be truthful so I will name them here. I am an avid Dostoevsky reader because he taught me that you can lay a world out and tear it down piece by piece if an audience is willing to take the plunge with you. The Brothers Karamazov taught me the beginnings of my faith and began my pursuit of the archetype of the “holy fool”; clueless yet imbued with God’s grace. I think everyone should read Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (which is by Anonymous, but it’s definitely a white guy) alone with a highlighter and a notebook because it is important to stake out claims for knowledge by yourself, if only sometimes. Anything by Sylvia Wynter or Sianne Ngai carves out the edges of my happy place because I know they both would want me to think fiercely for myself yet in unity with others. And my favorite book ever is Liliane by Ntozake Shange because we speak the same language, plain and simple.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

I think for the past 9-10 months the current state of the world for me has solely been writing and art (due to Magickal Negro Dissociation Tactics), in which lies its/their value. Art’s consumption defies the logic of the societal constructions we arbitrarily throw up. And art makes everyone way more humble than anyone presumes they can be. Art is a constant kick-in-the-face that tells you non-stop that everything you think about yourself and the world around you was either told to you or through you. Art itself even defies the logic and constructions we erect around it. I didn’t think that theory could be art until I read The Theory of the Young Girl. I didn’t know that the distance videos my friends send me of their beautiful faces were something so special until I taught myself to recognize that created, captured beauty. The magnitude of appreciating a finely created thing disintegrates a lot of the obstacles between people and refocuses us, if even temporarily, on the magnificence of being. Like, oh wow man, you made this? For that one little moment, I can forget the hyper-technological and violent world we live in. It’s less that I even forgot it and more that I recognize that art creates an itty-bitty new world, which we can choose to live in. Even for 3 seconds. That’s an imagined-future; a created change.

How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

I started writing poetry because I needed to make sense of being a freaky black girl around a bunch of hayseeds and rednecks. I made a voice. I didn’t care if my voice sounded like theirs and a million other people(s) just as long as I knew it was uniquely mine. Now I’ve been a lot more places and seen a lot more things and I still run along with the same credos. My voice, if it looks like anything, probably resembles a stalactite. Or a stalagmite. Just a lot of layers of something. Maybe sedimentary rock? I know that knowing that I really wanted to be a person who had something to say was the ember that became a fire in my belly. Now I’m a woman who won’t shut up and I’m really, really proud of that.

What is something that matters to you?

Faith, land, beans, grace, rain, hip-rolling, prayer, divination, the phrase “making love”, humility, radiance, the fusion between earth signs and fire signs, dreaming a little dream, waking up in the morning to another day.

Anything else?

What’s the real difference between esoteric and exoteric? Anybody know?

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