Four Eyes Feature: Abigail Swanson
Our next artist feature from No. 10 Four Eyes is Seattle writer Abigail Swanson, who wrote “Matthew On-Screen” for this issue.
What was your inspiration for "Matthew On-Screen," and how does it relate to the theme Four Eyes?
“Matthew, On-Screen” is about a coke bottle glasses-wearing poet with whom I had a long distance (mostly sext-based) “thing”. Our “thing” ultimately resulted in awkward IRL period sex in a shitty Hollywood motel, lots of miscommunication, and finally, alienation. His literal glasses lend themselves to the Four Eyes theme. I’m sure some kind of deeper meaning related to the theme could be extrapolated knowing that a lot of our fling “thing” consisted of on-screen, iPhone camera lens filtered intimacy.
What do you most like to write about?
Honestly, a lot of words just sound funny or weird to me. I’m an aurally oriented person, but the humor or meaning I intend to relay often doesn’t translate orally. Writing is a way for me to organize my “mind jokes” in a way that expresses a feeling clearly.
When you are in a writer's block what helps you get out of it?
Psychedelics and new experiences always help. I’ve also been in the habit of carrying a notepad or journal with me at all times for most of my life. If I hear or think of something I like while I’m out and about, I write it down. Sometimes I won’t use what I wrote in a poem or story for years, but it’s nice to have a catalog of non sequiturs to refer to when I get stuck.
Other than writing, what do you like to do on your free time?
Why do you write?
I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t—I’ve been writing since I learned how. I guess I could say something banal like “writing is the air I breathe,” but like, c’mon. . .no one wants to hear (read) that.
Renata Adler said something loosely related to this question that I think about often:
“That 'writers write' is meant to be self-evident. People like to say it. I find it is hardly ever true. Writers drink. Writers rant. Writers phone. Writers sleep. I have met very few writers who write at all.”
Any weird, odd, or crazy story you have about eyes?
A bully named Johnny Ackerman threw a pencil at my brother across a classroom in the 5th grade (ca. 1996). I don’t know if the asshat actually aimed it, but it stuck in my brother’s eye. He had to have some crazy procedure involving infrared light to see the injury. Pretty wild.
What does the idiom, to "have eyes bigger than your stomach" mean to you?
It’s like when you put too much food on your plate cause it looks like something you could eat, but you can’t finish it because you overestimated your appetite. In a broader sense, it could also mean taking on more work or emotional labor than a person can handle.
What are the color of your eyes?
Green & brown with a dark blue ring around my iris. Hazel, I guess.
Contacts or glasses?
I never wear my prescribed glasses—mostly because the pair I actually like were stolen along with my journal, laptop, and planner, but that’s a long, sad story. I’ve been really in to color therapy glasses lately. I’m wearing turquoise tinted glasses today which are allegedly supposed to make the wearer feel open, soothed, sensitive, relaxed, and confident. They seem to work just fine.
bodega on bowery
i’ve really let myself
let myself go
with a pathetic twitch
of a city smile
i hear the guardian
of the bodega bathroom key code
bestow the sacred numbers upon me
—and i am not ready
my man, it’s
all my bones and bowels are crumbling
(my hopes and dreams, too)
and i’ve never been more grateful
for a bodega on bowery
coral sands motel
my tits swell in concert
with my womb
and the moon
your adonis belt & navel
irrigate my blood
i shrug & pay for pizza
in sloppy deshabille
i take myself too seriously in the jacuzzi later
i watch lost angel wind
gorge palm fronds and know
the sky like feathers of some
in time, love’s mercy lies
like telling a borrowed joke
on borrowed time
without knowing when
to deliver the punchline
the idea of love
we practice our tight five
and wait for the light,
the standing ovation
at the curtain’s close
when you and i,
are finally left alone