Interview: The Transgressions of Colin Gee
Colin Gee is in possession of one of the most hilarious and creative minds in the alt-lit scene. Colin has built a reputation for himself as a master of satire and a keen observer of human nature, using humor to tackle some of the most daunting and difficult topics we face.
In this interview with Nolcha Fox, Colin delves deep into his life, experiences, and comedic philosophy, exploring how he uses humor to navigate the ups and downs of life, and what drives him to make us laugh. They’ll also be discussing his latest projects, his book Fear of Sleep, and how he stays ahead of the curve in the constantly evolving world of alternative literature.
NF: I had a good chuckle at “Life.” I grew up with grandparents exactly like the owner. Where did you get the idea for this poem?
CG: Well, the idea is life: look but don’t touch. I am doing this without referring to the actual manuscript because apparently, I lost it (HAPPY SAINT PADDYZ), but this is the thematic megalomania of modern poetry, that I know every line of my writing, and am not surprised that you do, too. In the midwestern US, you grow up finding out despite what you read in Far Side of the Mountain that everything is owned and counted. Unfortunately, I have never had an Airbnb as nice as the one in the poem, but it could be a conglomerate of all the private woods, rivers, fields, farms, and Chernobyl-looking mid-prairie WWII ammunition dumps you could only stare at, everything fenced-off.
Did your grandparents keep the plastic on the couches?
NF: Yes, my grandparents were probably buried with that plastic. They are very well-preserved.
Your poems, such as “Life” and “Fear of sleep,” are surprisingly philosophical, in addition to being doused with your sense of humor. Please describe any life events that contribute to your philosophy on life.
CG: I won’t right here, though the “obliquely autobiographical, according to critics” “Lips” is due out with Anxiety Press soon, and is sure to be full of anecdotes. Megalomania again, people who worship people who worship worship. The human contraption/experiment seems to crave cycles. A good cry, makeup screw. To continue is not risk/reward, those researchers abandoned ship when their thesis reviews came through, but you have to continue, you are stuck. So do you cry or not, do you screw or not, are kind of limited options even if you choose no cry cry no cry screw no screw screw every single incarnation, no different from do you eat or shit or not, well you can kind of fight it for a bit. The wheel keeps turning regardless.
NF: In “I escaped the yard,” that poor dog thinks exactly like my dogs might think when I dress them in sweaters. What is your experience with owning dogs or dog-sitting that inspired you?
CG: Just an actual still lactating street dog in northern Mexico that, judging by its sweater, had been a kept lady in a previous life, but perhaps had hankered for more. Black Stone / White Stone Press published this in their Zombie Zine, an oblique but legit take on the theme I thought, seeing how the dog was reeling across the hot pavement (2-inch legs, 2-inch teats) chased by much larger street dogs craving her fresh milk.
Tell Audrey and especially Penny to stay indoors, for the love of God.
NF: “I know I’m cheating,” “There is a mirror called Art,” and “City Life 9413,” are almost freaky nightmarish. And of course, funny. I’m curious about how much of your writing draws from dreams, and how porous the boundary is between dreams and waking life.
CG: The title of the collection is “Fear of Sleep,” so there you have it. There does exist such a thing as automatic writing, which occurs in a semi-subconscious, drooling, kind of hypnotic state. Can it work the other way around too? Whatever direction it works, my most vivid dreams occur in …wait for it…Google come on…hypnagogia, the place between waking and dreaming. There is a story called “The train to hell,” narrated from a first-person perspective (first clue) about losing my partner on the train to hell because I wandered off to get an explanation for why it was taking so long to get to hell, and it was a few pages of the narrator wandering through cars where there was no food where I was hungry, no movie on the screen when I wanted to be entertained, and that was all just an actual dream I was lucky to remember and write. Not the frantic horrifying one I lived, in which I was demanding to be sent to hell, but a fun version.
NF: Some of your poems, such as “Sometimes my mind is small,” “A good grip,” “Somewhere there is a party,” and “You can’t take back the Christmas gifts,” describe everyday (sort of) events, but you transform them into something almost startling. Please tell me how you developed this writing style.
CG: Well, it is always just the punch line, pulling out the chair. A lot of people love it, even if they lose their drink. To get a bit of traction in the alt-lit community, to be honest, which I had decided was publishing the kinds of things I liked, where I would be happy to be published myself (unlike in trade paperback or medium-sized but strangely anachronistic bulk presses with unintentionally pixelated covers), I decided I would do my own online mag, but since I work full-time it had to be something I had to be able to do with one eye on the wheel, so…humor. Fine! A joke a day, no problem, I have often kept bosses/girlfriends happy with 4-5 jokes a minute. What to call this fine new contribution to the world? I tried out 35 fucking names, then remembered the elephant in the room, that I used to do this as a child, that I had about 12 different zines starting with a fundie Christian one at the age of 9 (I was promptly let go), and the one I printed and mailed out through junior/high school that was called The Gorko Gazette.
Bet you that domain is not taken, it dawned on me! Gorko does not even mean anything.
So, the style (what style?) comes from doing humor for ages, but that does not mean it is light. Catullus bitched (clowning again?) that his nuggets (nugae, fluffy asides, milkweed pods) got no respect with the intelligentsia of his day, though each one cost him as much as a book.
NF: I’m impressed with the surprise endings in poems such as “Sometimes my mind is small.”
CG: That poem was supposed to go in a different direction, more serious, but I could not resist a joke and it petered out. The poem committed suicide! Same point though: whatever it was that you glorify in your past, go back there and check it out, it was prob just a small rocker brawl over porta-potty etiquette (that was at a show in Belo Horizonte) in which 0 punches were landed. Your mind is not shrinking, just the stakes. The original example was going to be…something about a witty exchange at a rooftop party in which a new relationship changes the course of your life…cannot remember and not important.
NF: Many poets write at least one ode to Bukowski poem. However, I’ve never read anything like “Bukowski at the typer.” Where did you get that twist, and if you really have a little sister, is she talking to you?
CG: I was worshiping Buk at one point when I first discovered his short stories, then poems, so wondered in my megalomania if he had been reincarnated in me, to continue writing his nuggets of filth and of course drinking and fucking to HIS heart’s content. Automatic writing! My drinking and filthy lifestyle justified by a modern god! Then I realized that I had been born too soon, according to my concept of reincarnation, but that my dear sibling had the exact birth year of his death, and that that beautiful baby was a much more concentrated artist than I was likely to ever be.
Buk, may thy will be done, amen.
NF: Just a quick question about your forthcoming book, “Lips.” Can you give a synopsis of what it’s about?
CG: It’s about this old guy called Lips who was looking for a higher deity solution to the demands from his AA-type group. Lips wanted a safe haven from everything that led him to abuse of alcohol/illness: sex as it had been projected, religion, demands of heartless family members, demeaning workspaces, pharmaceuticals, and the OTHER churches he had attempted to use as shelter from all of the other things, including the AA-type group he had joined to give him shelter. Juxtaposed to this is the struggle of the ultra-competent elite to find their own safe haven in the same haven, which they could have but did not.
It pulls no punches, introduces some elements completely unknown to casual society (I will be sending a copy to John Waters), and hope it will kick the wind out of people’s views on the dividing line between nugae and serious humor.
End of Interview
Colin Gee (@ColinMGee, he/him) is the founder and editor of The Gorko Gazette (@GorkoThe), a humor daily that publishes headlines, cartoons, reviews, and poetry. His work has been featured in Misery Tourism, Expat Press, A Thin Slice of Anxiety, Outcast Press Poetry, Cajun Mutt Press, Black Stone / White Stone, Exacting Clam, and elsewhere. Colin’s novella, Lips is forthcoming with Anxiety Press.
Nolcha Fox has written all her life, starting with poop and crayons on the walls. Her poems have been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Alien Buddha Zine, Medusa’s Kitchen, and others. Her three chapbooks are available on Amazon.