Tiegan Dakin is a teenage writer and artist. Her work of many varieties appears or is forthcoming in After the Pause and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. She is the Founder and Chief Editor of The Drowning Gull, an associate editor for Zoetic Press, and an interview contributor for cahoodaloodaling. Tiegan enjoys writing poetry and also reading the works of Brenda Shaughnessy, one book of whose she has reviewed on her book and TV blog, Heart, what art are you? . You can find out more about her at her personal blog.
abused // dishonest
wrist blooms open
like red gardenia blushing.
his index finger slid
over my cheekbone.
once. naked. in full term.
a space where soft peels itself off the walls
smell of raw and sweet meat.
sweet meat open
like grandmother’s ash gourd garden.
his mouth climbed and slid
down my belly button.
claim. stamp. marked territory.
body crammed into unwelcoming body the walls
dig for unadulterated sapphire crystals.
sapphire crystals open
like ice broken clean down the middle.
his eyes slid
away silent after raking foolishly.
infidelity. dishonor. limp.
crawling on tips back into thorn bed the walls
finally stop muttering under their breath at dusk.
a photograph from my childhoo
i am smiling.
i don’t remember how the photograph has too much
noise on it.
i suffered to be a daughter to a father
in a country i didn’t believe existed.
summer crawled slow on my spine
when i was five y/o and a leaf in the eye of abandonment.
the grayed center of a rose when
a door closes.
lack of sunlight.
crisp fresh only on the edge lines.
muffled moans echoing.
skin filthy skin
skin hurts and bleeds.
worn inside out red and virginal.
like church falling to its knees.
beach bot bailout
On Vancouver Island, robots gather sea glass at the shore for entrepreneurs who 3D print settings for the finds and sell jewelry online.
People on the beach toast the bots, appreciating their bonus litter removal. Puppies play and kids caboodle on vacation beside the machines.
Robots rake shells into piles under users' docks. Fake owls perch on their heads at night. Resting, they sleep covered in barnacles.
Coelacanths become reanimated through a smartphone app. The beach writhes with new old life. People realize their mistake. Can tech help?
Beach bots collect coelacanths along with sea glass and litter. They fight the new scourge, to save the ecosystem. They ask nothing from us.
Grateful, people invite bots to join them on the beach, relaxing in the sun. Without automated harvests, sea glass jewelry becomes precious.
HANDMADE SEA GLASS JEWELLERY COMMISSIONED BY S. KAY
PHOTO: GWEN ROSSMILLER
1. Alright - to start, can you introduce yourself to us using metaphors?
Stronger than diamonds, hummingbird-delicate, as loving as a bouquet of puppies, with the determination of a bear hunting berries, and a reasonably robotic creative writing discipline,
2. What does the sea mean to and do for you?
I live with a view of the ocean in Vancouver, BC, and often write outside on my deck, immersed in a marine environment. When my eyes are not on the screen, I'm taking in the sparkling waves, the diving seals, the flying birds, or the passing boats. It's super relaxing to sit and watch sea life bob along. A recent study showed that being immersed in "blue space" of water is similar to green space with trees, it's good for mental health. Often when my mind is drifting, that's when I will be inspired, either by something I see in the vista or an idea will occur to me. It's a great way to write.
PHOTO: S. KAY
3. What are some of your creative outlets? How did you find them (or how did they find you)?
Aside from writing fiction, I make jewelry, crochet, and have created a variety of interdisciplinary projects over the years. I learned arts and crafts skills when I was a child, from my mum, Brownies, and school, and then as an adult I apprenticed for two years as a silversmith. But I moved on to other work. I also created some DIY pieces like an audio collage installation in a group show, and freeform crochet soft sculptures and hats.
One of my favourite projects was a collaboration with photographer Gwen Rossmiller in which we paired my tweet-sized tales with her art photos, using my jewelry design, in mini book necklaces.
PHOTOS: GWEN ROSSMILLER
Creative projects find me when I get inspired by opportunities (like unusual calls for submissions), or materials or people or culture. They're often conceptual. My fiction tends to be conceptual, too.
4. Much of your writing explores the future. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I'm a fan of robotics, especially interested in robopsychology, the exploration of human-robot interaction. I like to write near-future tiny tales that imagine those relationships. Often they explore foibles, amusing misadventures as we struggle to adapt to new technology. My first book, "Reliant" (tNY.Press Books, 2015), is an apocalypse in tweets, a look at a society before, during and after the end. It blends humour with doom. But although it's a favourite, I don't only write speculative fiction, I do write other things as well.
6. You have a new book, "Lost in the Land of Bears," coming out this summer. How did it come to be, what's it all about, and where can we look for it when it's out?
It began as a disparate group of tweets loosely based around building a story inspired by the forest and ocean near where I live. As I collected them, I combined elements and added new ones until I came up with a cross-genre adventure tale-in-tweets about an LGBTQ couple who travel to Canada and become lost in the forest, encountering quirky creatures and machines in their search for a way back to a futuristic resort. It's being published by Reality Hands this July in three editions: an ebook, a print on demand version, and a handmade limited edition art book with a faux fur cover. It'll be available online directly from RealityHands.com, and other book retailers TBD. Follow me on Twitter at @blueberrio for news.
7. I like to wrap up interviews pretty open-ended. Is there anything on your mind right now? Any opinions or causes we can help you share? Any recent experiences that are still resonating with you? Any advice for other artists?
Right now it's June, Pride Month, and as a queer writer I'm also conscious of the Orlando tragedy. I'm Canadian, so I don't have the power to vote for American gun control. But as a writer with global readers, I do have the power to influence culture in a positive way, with QUILTBAG characters and modern language. I often choose to make my characters queer, or gender-neutral so the reader can project their own identity onto a protagonist. I'm mindful of representation, and don't recommend all writers suddenly make all their characters queer. But do be respectful, with inclusion and diversity. And everyone can use gender-sensitive language.
Finally, since it's summer, it's a chance to be outdoors in blue space. Instead of writing at the usual café, get a drink to go and take your device to a park with a waterfront view. See if it soothes and inspires you.
PHOTO: S. KAY
I ENVISION MY MOTHER AS A CHILD CONVERSING WITH
god. words for
music when she
peers into the
sky with three
for eyes. some
place over the
edge of vision
a piano plays.
her father’s face is
covered by spools of
polyester clouds and
his words sound like
the hollow hum which
is only heard as one
crafts a still-life,
the pear next to the
orange next to three
apples, each of them
more rotted than the
one drawn beside it.
the mask gives
form to air. i
feel my throat
knot as i open
my mouth. next
to the mask, a
doll takes the
place of every
thing that was
not yet there.
things to know about bees!
bees evolved from wasps and plants evolved to flower. plants began enticing wasps, who were much more efficient at pollenating than the plants themselves, using bright colours and nectar. wasps developed adaptations that allowed them to better access that nectar, which resulted in modern day bees (ex. fuzzy bodies). there wouldn't have been bees without flowers and there wouldn't have been flowers without bees.
male bees don’t have dads and die a lot. their only purpose is to fuck the other bees, which kills them immediately. they’re called drones. drone eggs are unfertilized, which means female bees don’t need sperm to lay a drone egg (DADLESS).
female bees run the show. fertile ones have a mating flight once, then store male bee sperm for the rest of their lives. they can choose whether an egg will be fertilized or not, controlling their population carefully. infertile females are responsible for foraging and hive maintenance.
cool kinds of bees!
bees for you!
bees are dwindling so, first and foremost, be nice to them! you don’t have to keep them, but don’t kill them. plant things they like. let them have their hive. let them pollinate your flowers. if you don’t fuck with them, they probably won’t fuck with you.
my last and most hands-on suggestion is to have a hive. honey bee hives require weekly maintenance, but they’re really fun. you will get stung, but quite infrequently and it really doesn't really hurt all that much. there is a lot to learn and i certainly don't know it all. i'd advise that you take a class, read a book and i basically insist that you keep in touch with your local beekeeping community if you have a hive of your own. beekeepers will often share concerns, strategies and advice - the enemies of the bee are constantly evolving, therefore it's essential to chat with others about pest prevention and effectiveness (whether you're open to chemical treatments or not) in your area. you'll need to spend about $500 on equipment and bees to get set up if you choose to purchase everything for your hive. your frames will be swarming (pictured above), so if that thought makes you squeamish, this option probably isn't for you. that being said, honey bees are typically gentle, especially on the frame. you can harvest the honey humanely, so long as you leave enough to get the bees through the winter and, honestly, they don't really mind you taking it. when it comes down to it, bees are just really fascinating to observe and the world needs them.
okay, so please continue to love the bees and i'll see you next time!
this morning before i sleep i kiss u to hanna montana in ur car and the hills of ur eyebrows are
asking me … what has happened to the sheep
this morning in ur car i would like to tell u about ur kindness (it is a complicated shade of blue)
how it is a shame the way that the members of coldplay can’t dry hump the people they like
how u cannot see ur elbows creating many boxes in the airs when u touch the people u care
for the way u touch the people u care for with the fingies and the palms of ur hands
meet me in a field today and i will kiss u with the entirety of my body in exchange
spit on me today and i will try to evaporate the atoms that stop us from touching each other
fully while completely still in a field recording this all on my v nice video camera
(it picks up the way u say hello in v nice detail)
i would rather kiss u than sleep
i would rather hear u pull the grass from the earth
close ur eyes and glide ur hands over ur own hands and the hands of the things near u
stare at something lacking steadiness (covered by dishes)
LOOKING OUT, WONDERING
How often the birds How often the laughing
angels forcing us inside How often the thanking
god for the water in the bottle on the shelf at Costco
and the morning crying outside into tomorrow
morning The breakfast yes and-ing projecting us
into our own laps How often the shopping for a new
self in the aisles of Target, Whole Foods
The kisses exploding back into our mouths our hands
holding nothing holding melted threats
The comma scooping white space into its palm
and the new self emerging and the pausing
of time on the subway which has windows for a reason
WHEN WE ARE LOVINGLY GIVING
and we are indifferent sometimes and yes and the cuticles occasionally
bitten to softness over another tax statement and the search bar indicating
some pretty rage within or our knotted fists making houses
in the gorgeous neighborhood of our bodies our attitudes fucking
us sideways and backwards and our forgetting why
THE MOUNTAIN IN THE HOUSE
That small moon that tries knowing doesn’t mention
how the kid might find the other moon farther away.
I think about ice. Directions. Lighting the field ‘til prom
makeovers everyone. The simple matchbook burns
terribly in reverse. Touching someone for days: that’s
the stuff. Borrowing the pretty mouth; mouth that
leads my abdomen to the door. A small peach was
thrown, then another.
RE: “You will finally know why storms are named after people.”
I would perform story upon story for you
if you felt the worn soles of my shoes
the familiar way I wear yours. I would,
if I knew you could hear.
I will not ask you if you can hear me--
before sound is lost to the earth's atmosphere
it rises to become energy the universe can translate
into light-bulb revelation;
you can hear me
and I know you choose not to.
Before you say I'll be a stage name to the next apocalypse
and I call you a poor imitator, know that it took my parents
two weeks of uninterrupted thought to conjure a name
worthy of my sake.
Storms make cameo appearances but I am cosmic
energy, resonating in your stirrups for decades
to come, even
if you don't know it yet. See,
rage you call Katrina, I call amnesty;
trust that you call fickle, I call battle-ready.
Name me a survivor and I'll write you
an epic till their last breaths and then some;
battles don't see the end of the night
and if you saw the ends of my fingertips
you would never run out of stories to read.
I would show you every strain in the bulk
of my muscles if I knew you were watching.
I would listen for the beat of your spine
if I knew your heart knows what it is to thaw--
if you called me a storm, I would write you a poem
only to show you
what aftershocks look like,
how the soles of your feet
hug the ground like fallen arches -
like bridges that never saw the fire
Blood-orange flame lights
yr path toward petty concerns:
Godliness // supermarket specials //
whether Death rents a condo
in the province of the living
—dig through planted netherworlds
for scraps / Lap blood
like cat’s milk / Pretend to see Adam catch
the night train from Ealing
to Eden—fashion a crown of
feather & soil / Think back to 2-4-1
breakfast specials—recall the day you
came home to find the lack / Pick a
card from the deck & say / we are either
Divine or Deadmeat
glow in the dark
I vomited for three days straight until it was just blood filling the toilet & I am so angry
with myself I want to cry I want to dissipate into the streetlight just like all the other sad
people who want to cry but can’t because of drugs and the hangover is so stale that my
mouth feels like two chalkboard erasers being banged together when I talk it is pure
dust and I want to disappear, I think I already said that, anyways I don’t disappear
& I sit in front of one of my many mirrors and watch myself because grief is
to me and I’m afraid that this will be the hangover I can’t outrun and I will wear it
like a stain like the imprints of chalk eraser on the brick wall of the school & nothing
will taste as bad as water tastes to me right now except last night Sam’s friend asked
me for my number & isn’t it funny how unclaimed it made me feel so I gave him
my number because I don’t have a good enough reason not to &
it’s not that I want to feel
claimed just tethered as the reality TV star having a breakdown at couple’s therapy
like give me something bigger than myself so I can ruin it
I am sliding slowly
down the couch but slow as a continental drift and I don’t realize it is happening until
I am the floor & honestly that applies to a lot of my life right now and it is Sunday night
but I probably won’t fully wake up until Wednesday and one day I will finally wake up dead but until then
my neighbor is cooking dinner through the wall and most nights we cook dinner
at the same time and I slice zucchini while he pops open a jar of what sounds like sauce and
when it goes quiet on the other side of the wall I assume he is sitting alone at his kitchen table eating silently so I do the same thing and maybe we will always be mirroring each other on opposites sides of a thin wall for the rest of our lives or at least our leases & is that love? because I have no clue what love is
which creates a sadness in me so heavy I am excited it will kill me because I know
how loneliness because I know how loneliness because I know how loneliness is
as hungry as the moon behind a cloud is wanting to be seen
so I hope that the man through the wall is capable of loving visibly and I hope he makes
someone feel claimed and illuminated & if he can do that for me I will stop
fantasizing about disappearing into a streetlight because planes are so heavy but
somehow they still manage to fly & that makes me more hopeful even
when sleep tastes bad to me and I lie still at 3:37 a.m. until I hear
his mattress groan so I know he is awake too blinking in the darkness
looking for something when there isn’t anything to see
half an obituary
I will be here not wanting
much more than the view
of Billy’s arm reaching across
the hatchback to silence his phone.
Later, the woman is found dead
in the other room, well
technically Rocky Neck Park,
I’ll never know how without
an online subscription to The Day
though when I say I imagine her
walking in to the sea, my mother
reminds me Rocky Neck is all forest
as if I haven’t noticed
they are being gentle around me