James Diaz: Can you walk us through Lotus and The Apocalypse? How did this one reveal itself to you?
Austin Davis: I started writing the poems in LOTUS around 2 years ago. The majority of these poems were written during the pandemic, when I was fighting a difficult battle with my mental health.
For a while, I was flirting with self destruction. I wasn’t sleeping much. I was self medicating. I wasn’t eating a lot. It kind of felt like each morning I was reborn on the side of a mountain. I knew I had to keep climbing up. I knew that eventually there’d be a little cliff to rest on. But I’d always slip. I was too exhausted to reach for a rock, so I would free fall until the next morning. Life felt like this circle, and each night the circle was closing in on me, getting tighter and tighter.
I run a homeless outreach program and I was putting myself in all these dangerous situations. I was reversing overdoses, breaking up fights, protecting women from assaults, - all sorts of shit. I still do this work, but with boundaries now. Everything was out of balance and I started to think a lot about my own death.
How would I feel if I knew I’d die tomorrow? Who would I cry about? What would I fear? What are the memories that warm my body when I’m shivering and help me see my feet when I’m stumbling through the dark?
Writing LOTUS was hard. I had to confront a lot of my fears and insecurities, but in doing so, I grew from them and made it out alive on the other side. All I want with this book is for it to help anyone out there who is feeling alone, scared, or in a downward spiral. Life can get crazy hard. But we have each other. And together, we can make it through the night and find the sunrise.
LOTUS is about being honest with yourself about the parts of yourself that need work. Humanity is constantly evolving and as humans we are forever changing. At the end of the day, all we can do is put in the work to grow into someone we’re beyond proud of.
JD: Love is central here. Having someone to accompany you on the rough and crumbling road of a fastly diminishing and ending world. Longing, desire, memory, pain. It's already a lot to deal with. Life. Ending or not, is a heavy thing to move through. But not being alone in it seems central. Do you feel like relationships, in any and many forms, are the glue of hope? Talk to us about hope and not being alone in it.
AD: Love is everything, James. A lot of what I write boils down to love, in one way or another. To be honest, I think I’m scared of a lot of shit in this world, and having people around me that love me and that I love is really beautiful and beyond valuable.
JD: There's a line I particularly love, where you write that "Some houses are built with the wrong bricks." It sure feels like much of our world qualifies as such a house. How do we replace these bad bricks? Is there time even? Where do we start?
AD: That’s a question I’ve wrestled with before for sure. If our world is a house, our individual communities are the bricks that hold it together. I think we start on a micro level. Show your loved ones that you love them. Hold the door for someone at the grocery store. Listen to how someone is feeling. Little acts of love are like ripples on the ocean of life. Eventually you might just create a wave.
JD: How do you define poetry and the poet? I often feel it is different for each person, not a static or fixed concept, to do or be poetry. What is the unique feel of this poetic ride, for you? Is it a separate thing or the whole thing for you, in everyone and everywhere, an ember waiting for wind?
AD: I think that everyone can and should try to write a poem. Write what you think a poem is. Then write something that’s the opposite of that. Being a poet is like being a detective. We’re all just trying to understand an aspect of existence. We take these clues that the world gives us and we try to make sense of them. Maybe we want to know what the point of life is, or what love is, or why we feel so depressed, but I think being a poet is asking these questions and attempting to
work through them in our writing.
JD: Any new projects in the works for this year you'd like to tell people about? (Feel free to promote anything you want to promote here Austin: website links for any and all your projects, etc.)
AD: Thank you, James!! My main project this year is LOTUS & THE APOCALYPSE, which is up for pre-order now! LOTUS will be out everywhere on March 1st. Besides that, I’ve been working on a book of poetry about homelessness for a while. I would love to record another EP or spoken word album too. We’ll see where this life takes me, I suppose!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.