I can’t recall ever having a dream about Rebecca Loudon. That’s because we’re both Rebeccas and there can be only one. If she appeared in my dreamscape, my entire psyche would likely collapse. It would like going back or forward in time and running into yourself – you’d disrupt the entire space/time continuum or some shit like that. Did I tell you that Rebecca Loudon’s favorite movie is Donnie Darko? That’s my favorite movie. One time many years ago when I was totally drunk I went to a midnight showing of Donnie Darko and yelled out all the lines. People wanted to fight me. Now you’re starting to understand why it is against the laws of physics and nature for Rebecca Loudon to appear in my dreams.
Rebecca Loudon lives and writes in Seattle. She is the author of Tarantella and Radish King, from Ravenna Books, and Navigate, Amelia Earhart's Letters Home, from No Tell Books. Her third collection, Cadaver Dogs, is forthcoming from No Tell Books. She is the founder and teacher of two writing workshops, The Wallingford Irregulars, which is in its 9th year, and The Foundry, which is 2 years old. She wrote the libretti for Bone Island Suite, a 5 part song cycle for soprano and orchestra which received its premiere with Philharmonia Northwest in April 2006, Yangshuo Quay for chamber choir and clarinet obbligato, and Other Voices, for choir and chamber orchestra. She is currently writing the libretto for an opera, Red Queen. She is a violinist with Philharmonia Northwest Chamber Orchestra, and teaches violin lessons to children.
Reb: In your chapbook, Navigate, Amelia Earhart's Letters Home, you didn't "imagine" what the famous aviator might have said, you literally channeled her. She spoke to you and you wrote down what she said. How do you explain this to the simple folk?
Rebecca: I am not, by nature, a woo-woo type of woman. I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny, my horoscope, crossing over, numerology, low fat mayonnaise or Walt Disney. My poems don’t “come” to me, they don’t float down from a lofty place in the heavens, and I don’t gleefully skip through meadows plucking the stanzas in bouquets like Stevie Nicks. Writing Navigate was a different type of experience for me.
I have just returned from a visit to my landlord--the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. I was living in a frozen house in the dead of winter with no heat because my landlord refused to fix my broken furnace. I spent hours wrapped in blankets by my fireplace sucking smoke into my lungs and shivering. In the mornings I dressed in eleven sweaters and five pair of socks and wool pants and drove to my glamorous job. As always, I had my trusty notebook by my side, and by the second week of no heat and shivering, I began to hear Amelia Earhart’s voice in my head. She seemed to favor the morning commute in which to speak which was dangerous, but who am I to question A VOICE FROM BEYOND? I opened my notebook and simply took dictation as I drove. After 2 weeks, Amelia shut up. She was there and then she was gone. During this time period I discovered I had a jolly strong case of pneumonia and had been suffering fevers for quite some time. High fevers. I started hacking rust up from my lungs. I could barely walk. My eyes crossed and I slept 30 or 40 hours a night or not at all. But I had some interesting notes that were almost legible, which finally revealed a partial imagined history of Amelia Earhart and her little Electra. Yes, it’s odd when crazy stuff happens to sane, down to earth women like me, but I’d also like to add in my defense that I’ve been secretly married to the dead composer Robert Schumann since 1854 and we have a solid completely normal relationship. And that I had nothing to do with the fact that when they opened Schumann’s coffin to study his brain his head was missing.
Rebecca: Do you eat puppies? I won’t judge you for eating steak but if you eat puppies, we may have to agree to disagree. People are frequently surprised and somewhat disappointed when they find that Cadaver Dogs is not a book of dead dog poems. Cadaver dogs are police dogs trained to detect human remains. On the surface, Cadaver Dogs consists of poems exploring the way animals, all animals, not just our family pets, affect our lives. If you peel away a few layers, you may or may not discover that Cadaver Dogs is a series of poems about the perils of being a child in a dangerous world. I recently told my therapist that I liked animals better than people. She said she wasn’t surprised, so I fired her. But the truth is, when I was a child, my dog never told me that I have trust issues. He just put his head on my lap and slobbered. And the cats that live with me now love every single poem I write and never judge the way I dress.
Reb: When are you going to ditch poetry and write something people want to read?
Rebecca: As soon as Jesus returns and takes me to either heaven or Post Falls, Idaho in his 1968 red Impala SS featuring gills on the fenders in front of the wheel openings, black and red leather interior and a 425 hp engine, I’m going to write about what really happened during that whole walking on the water incident.