Poet, mom, and horror dream aficionado, Reb Livingston is totally not a man, I swear. She’s the leader of No Tell Motel, which is a literary journal that according to Steve Fellner realizes “aesthetic diversity is as important as cultural diversity.” I feel this intro is getting way too cultural for a Potty Mouth Interview so let’s just keep it dirty. Reb is a total snatch, a creative potty mouth that keeps the reading world on its toes, or claws. She’s not afraid of snakes, as far as I know, but she’s venomous and My Little Pony-like. Her new book, which is God Damsel, is available at Lulu and retail outlets. I’ve always loved Lulu. I haven’t read God Damsel yet but I’m sure it’s Dandy. Translation: fabuloso!
Almost Dorothy: Steve Fellner wants to be you when he grows up. Says your work is way queerer than most gay men. Exhibit A: “Your time-laced tower is sane and has no snatch.” (Not sure if that’s gay but a snatch is a snatch.) Do you want to be a gay man, e.g. Steve, when you grow up?
Reb Livingston: I was touched and flattered by Steve’s remark, but I’ll tread carefully for concern that I’ll put him in a position like that of Toni Morrison having to explain her famous “Bill Clinton is the first black president” remark. I am not a gay man (exhibit A: my snatch). I’m rather attached to said exhibit. I do feel queer in some respects, perhaps many. Since I was a young child people have told me that my feelings are wrong or evidence of some sort of mental sickness. Certain people who claimed to love me couldn’t be bothered with how I felt or became critical or punishing if I expressed it. I hid a lot of myself because people found me weird and told me so. A lot of people still do. That used to cause me shame, but these past couple years I experienced my own version of coming out and realized how happy I can be if I stop trying to win the approval of those who can’t appreciate how fucking luscious I am, exactly as is.
AD: What makes you write when you could simply be peeing or eating all the time?
RL: Actually, I do pee a lot—one of the genetic curses from my mother’s side. I create because if I don’t, my soul implodes and my spirit leaves and fucks my best friend.
AD: Is identity sexual or is it the other way around?
RL: I don’t even know how to begin to answer that question. My personal perception ties identity much more to gender (i.e. the beloved snatch), but that’s the bag and lens I was given. I’m all boys against girls and fuck the police. I have no conscious explanation as to why I have sex with heterosexual men. Most heterosexual men don’t even trim their long, shaggy nose hairs. How fucking gross is that?
AD: That is so gross! I hate nose hairs. I can always tell a straight man by the length of his…nose hair. In any case, do you think sexual identity is overrated?
RL: Dude, you’re blowing my mind here. I just realized that I’m a SLAVE to my sexual identity.
AD: Dude, I’m not a dude, ok. Get it straight (or gay) mofo! As an editor of nothing, I think you should do a Whitney Houston themed issue called: Oh Hell No, Motel. Well?
RL: That’s certainly catchy, but I’m going to pass on Whitney. She’s not a good fit for our magazine at this time, but we hope she’ll keep reading us. I’m so excited about the new Sade album. I’d lean towards a Sweetest Taboo theme.
AD: Yes, I’m very happy Sade is back. Now if we could just get Courtney Love back on track all will be well. So, seriously, best thing about being an editor?
RL: Giving poets an outlet to share their work with readers. Free drinks without the implication of having to put out afterward. Or at least no implication for ME to put out.
RL: Hate mail. Poets’ passive-aggressive Facebook status updates about rejections. The internal pressure to publish really wonderful people’s mediocre poems because I just love the poets so very much.
AD: Given the chance, what would you say to the Virgin Mary?
RL: I’d tell her all about my good friend, Jill Alexander Essbaum, who’s a big fan of both her and her son. Then I’d ask her if she ever met the Sumerian goddess, Inanna, and if so, what’s she really like?
AD: If you would be a dinosaur, other than a pterodactyl, what would you be and why?
RL: I was going to write in the name of one of those bitchy poets who constantly complains about the death of poetry, the internet, e-books, MFA programs, etc., but my dreams keep telling me I will achieve the greatest power and healing through compassion, so, um, how about the Hippogriff from Harry Potter? I realize it’s not a real dinosaur, but I dreamed of one on September 7, 2009 and labeled it “dinosaur” in my dream database. In the dream, the hippogriff was a baby trapped underground. It crawled too and tried to wake its unconscious parents. There was another being in the chamber that figured out the latching system and freed the baby hippogriff. Then they began their pursuit of the powerful man who tried to kill them.
They say if you insult a hippogriff, it might be the last thing you ever do.
AD: I love hippos. Anywho, what do these words have in common & prove it: Eggshell, smurf, revision, loops, and pistachio?
RL: They’re all slang words for snatch? “I’d like a crack at that chick’s eggshell.” “Oprah refers to her’s as ‘smurf’” Oh forget it, I lack the sophistication and imagination to properly answer this question. My apologies.
AD: No problem. I’m surrounded by dumbasses. Love ya’, keep it weird damsel.
Reb Livingston is the author of God Damsel (No Tell Books, 2010), Your Ten Favorite Words(Coconut Books, 2007), Pterodactyls Soar Again(Whole Coconut Chapbook Series, 2006), among other titles. Her work appears in literary magazines and her poem ”That’s Not Butter“ appears in The Best American Poetry 2006(Scribner). She has Creative Writing degrees from Bennington (MFA) and Carnegie Mellon (BA). She keeps a poetry blog that is updated on a regular basis.