Swimmers Club

The pioneers of aviation were never lonely

20th June 2017


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Image: Asha Dore

Municipal Pool

Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.


Who: Asha Dore .
Where: Portland, Oregon, United States
What: Writer.

Cat No: DW-347

What do you do?

I keep trying to stay inside of one genre, but everything I write bends across the lines, eventually. 

Stock question. Can you tell us a bit about your influences?

The most consistent influences are random objects that intersect with each other in unexpected ways, like when a kid throws a shoe out the car window and it lands in a blackberry bush, next to an armadillo carcass. There are so many stories around that kind of landing. Also, music. Anything Amanda Palmer creates, Do Make Say Think, and Philip Glass. In my other life, I’m finishing a grad program in speech language pathology, so the science of language and cognition helps form the framework for a lot of the stories and characters I love. And definitely writers like Lidia Yuknavitch, Kate Zambreno, and Marguerite Duras who are/were reconstructing how a narrative works on the page. I can't imagine writing in a world where they haven't already created so many openings for what people call hybrid or experimental or anything but the same plot line, again and again. 

Can you tell us about your most recently published book and whether it does or doesn't differ from the types of things you've written before?

I just started sending out my first book-length manuscript. It’s a wild, slim thing, written in the first person plural about a girl from a small town who becomes famous. I wrote it after rereading some of The Odyssey and a few years worth of blog posts on Perez Hilton’s websites. It occurred to me that young, famous girls are our modern epic heroes, so I wrote a book about what it might mean to live in the body of a girl like that.

What are you currently working on?

I’m finishing up a memoir in the shape of an encyclopedia of Florida and a chapbook of prose poems about Medusa, millennial divorce, and my recurring dream that I participated in a government funded, fake zombie apocalypse. I also write and curate a column about the mythology of social mobility in the US, that’s part journalism, part memoir.

Swimmers Club has a focus on the state of independent culture at the moment (independent coffee shops, presses, record labels, etc). How healthy do you think independent culture is right now?

It seems that independent culture is more of a plural these days. There's the virtual space that most of us are tapped into at least a little bit. Then there are the microcultures, the local independent spaces where writers and artists who live near each other really celebrate their community. I wonder sometimes if the personas we create as writers become plural, too. While our virtual personas become increasingly real, long-lasting, and widespread the more we publish and promote ourselves, it seems like visiting communities and bringing our work to others in real life is so important, to merge our personas. Maybe one of the most significant gifts we can offer as writers is our presence. Which is incredibly hard for some writers/introverts (like me), but also so rad when we are there in those spaces, remembering how to talk to real people, like we did when we were kids.

What influence, if any, does the city in which you live have on your world?

I’ve lived in Portland for four years, and, in some ways, I came here because I needed to get far enough away from my home state - where people from every other state go for vacation - to understand how that deep, southern landscape should enter my writing. Oregon has influenced what I write because it gave me a place to land and look back, one that’s filled with writers and mountains and trees. Actually, the trees have influenced me, too. I grew up in a flat state filled with low, strangled evergreens. The trees in Oregon are magnificent. I could probably spend the rest of my life staring at them, writing about them, the way they seem to communicate with each other across such distances just by shivering a little, the way whales do, the way we wish we could.

Finally, can you swim?

Yes, but I'm from the Florida panhandle where the water is translucent teal and perfect. I lived a bike ride away from the beach they used as an alien landscape on that movie Contact with Jodie Foster. I like to swim on shorelines like that, where there’s a whole world below me, one that I can barely access, one that would kill me if I entered it longer than a minute or two. Salt water, preferably, and shallow enough to see the bottom. There’s obviously a prehistoric monster at the bottom of every super deep lake, and I’m not about to wake it up just so I can drink a beer and float a little bit on an inflatable orca during the three days of summer here when it's warm enough and not raining. So I don't swim much, but I remember it. I miss it. It might be the only thing I miss about my hometown. 

More Info:

website: www.ashadore.com