I recently had the immense pleasure of chatting with PPP’s resident avant-garde poet Brian Andrade. We discussed a plethora of fascinating topics, and I was able to dig into his beautiful, unorthodox brain. Here are the results.
Q: First thing’s first, you write often and in detail about sex. Was that always something you were comfortable expressing in your art?
Sex wasn’t something I expected to express in great detail with my art. In fact, I felt uncomfortable even discussing it.
I’m not really talkative about sex to begin with. I guess I write about sex a lot because it’s an important life experience that is often too taboo to casually talk about. Crazy, since it’s something we think about daily.
It wasn’t until I started to think about what exactly it was about sex that fascinated me that I started writing. When the sex is mutually-sided, it’s a momentary expression of passion and connection with someone.
Q: Do you feel, then, that writing is a way to talk about things we can’t in everyday discourse?
Writing is definitely about expressing what can’t be said in conversations. It’s the job of a writer to dig into subject matters that other people won’t.
It’s about going to the dark and taboo places in our existences and exposing them to the world.
Q: Sounds like you have a transgressive streak. Are there any authors that inspired you to bare yourself like that?
Yeah, let me go down the list.
James Baldwin always features impulsive characters that disregard rationalities. While they can be self-destructive, they’re effective in showing what chaos and power the human mind can have when one acts on their own desires.
Bukowski never failed to communicate all his thoughts in his poetry, no matter how questionable that made him as a person.
Audre Lorde’s poetry discomforts the reader in order to effectively communicate a message.
T.S. Elliot dealt with isolation, loneliness, and chaos, and embraced his pain in poetry; which is something that some writers, including myself, struggle to do.
Q: I notice a few writers who dealt with discrimination in their work. How do you feel about the current literary field/publishing industry, and do you feel it’s finally moving away from its white hetero-normative past?
I do think that the current mainstream publishing industry is moving away from the standard white-hetero-normative narrative to a minimal degree. Other narratives whether it be racial or about sexual orientation are more prevalent but they’re only treated as subcategories of fiction.
I prefer an industry that can publish works of different experience but still market them toward general audiences. For example, a novel with a gay protagonist is already marketed as queer fiction and nothing else. Every person deals with universal issues, therefore every narrative should be treated universally no matter their specialized focus.
Q: Do you think the secret is to stop treating it like a niche topic, like in erotica or young adult novels; but rather to present these characters as entirely normal in the context of their existence?
Yes! Minorities in the literary world are subjected to subcategories, and are treated one-dimensionally. Writers of color will be subjected to that title even if they offer more than racial dialogue in their work. The literary world leaves a burden for minority writers and minority writing..
While I’m a Mexican and Salvadorian writer, I wouldn’t want to be categorized as just that. I also wouldn’t want to be categorized for my sexual orientation since my existence and my experience is more than that.
I deal with the fear of death, and everlasting hunger and the joy of friendships, and a self-sufficient vanity just like everyone else does.
Q: Self-sufficient vanity is an interesting term. People don’t want to use the word selfish because it’s so demonized. Are they wrong for being afraid of pride?
Q: Care to elaborate?
No one else in this world, except maybe your mom and significant other, are going to celebrate your accomplishments with you, so might as well celebrate them yourself. Society is too damn self-loathing, I’d rather remain prideful than stick to a self-destructive view of myself.
Q: Shifting gears a little bit, what is your ultimate ambition with your writing, both for yourself, and on a bigger scale?
I definitely want to create more representation [for minority] experience in my writing. Much of [it] is homo-erotic as retaliation to the continuous stream of Nicholas Sparks romance novels of white straight middle-class couples falling in love.
A lot of writers complain that everything has been done, but representation is still an important issue. In other words, I want to write about universal issues through the lenses of minority experiences. I want to write about my experiences, which I never could find in books.
In terms of more technical goals, I plan to continue writing every day [in order] to build a larger collection, and to sharpen my technique.
Q: How much do you think about money when projecting your future? Is monetary validation as important as creative validation – or do neither of them effect the way you write. In other words, at the end of the day, do you think it’s necessary to write with an audience in mind?
Honestly, I’m just looking for a career after university that can support my writing. I don’t write with financial profit in mind, but that’s always a plus.
Q: So for you validation doesn’t have to do with “success,” whatever that means?
When it comes to audiences, they should be of secondary importance in writing. I write about the things that make me think while standing in the shower, and I wouldn’t change my interests for the sake of an audience. I write what I have to write and then focus on who my work would appeal to after it’s completed.
Success has to do with validation in terms of publicity and active readership but not finances.
Q: So other than writing what will we be reading about you on your Wikipedia page once you make it big?
You will be reading about how fucked up a place my mind is and how I came to celebrate that madness.
Q: What made you want to become a writer, and what inspires you to continually push the boundaries of great art?
I’ve always been a passive socializer whose fear of rejection gets the best of him. Many of the important things I want to say often go unsaid. In writing, I have a power that I don’t have anywhere else.
Honestly, all the bullshit I see in the world makes me want to push the boundaries of great art. I’m sick of not being able to talk about our fears and desires openly to the people important to us. Even when a close friend of mine was dying we never talked about it, mainly because death was too taboo. So we talked about pointless shit like politics while avoiding the most important things at hand. That’s bullshit. If speech is limited to social constraints, then writing has to be the place that transcends it.