Tag Archives: activism

A Poet’s Shop: An Interview with Cat Tyc

Cat Tyc

Cat Tyc is an artist, writer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. Her videos have screened all over the world. She is a published poet and fiction writer and is currently a Writing and Activism MFA candidate at Pratt Institute. Lately, she has been organizing clothing swaps as part of a project called CONSUME(S) ME that explores ethical consumption through fashion. Tyc’s latest swap is happening tonight in NYC (see details at the end of this post), and it seems to combine all of her artistic practices. Last weekend, I had the chance to ask Cat about the interdisciplinary work she has been doing and why it is taking the form of a shop.

Cathy de la Cruz: I notice the press release for this week’s event describes you as an artist and writer. Do you see the two as separate? How does this event aim to connect them?

Cat Tyc: Do I see the role of being an artist and writer separate? Sometimes. But not all the time. I am identifying as a writer first mostly these days because that is my primary creative act in this moment in time. The last few years I have been focusing on filmmaking but after a while I found myself wanting to differentiate from the conversations I found myself in. If I called myself a filmmaker, the conversation would always devolve towards film festivals, camera models, distribution models, financing…. All of that felt really disconnected from some of the things I feel most passionate about in filmmaking and making art in general which are story, character development, and directing. After being frustrated in this way one too many times, I remembered that all of those aspects I loved stemmed from writing and I realized it might be a lot easier to get back to my favorite parts of filmmaking if I just stopped and said, ‘Hey, I’m a writer.’ I think creative identity, like most identifying quantities, is for the individual and the individual alone to decide. It also feels important to mention too that in honing my focus back on writing…it helped me reconnect to the literary, or to be more specific, radical poetics, which are at the foundation of my education and have been my primary creative community for most of my life. Several of the participants in the POET TRANSMIT are people I have known for several years, including Steve Dalachinsky and Yuko Otomo who I have known since I was a teenager and often call my ‘poet parents’. I am also really interested in modality and how image and language transform across platforms. I am thinking a lot about the story and the narrative impetus and what that means in this current moment as a contemporary story teller. This interest in renegotiating notions of form are where the ‘artist’ sensibilities come in to play. Both sensibilities move towards the clothing swaps as a way to present my research practice. The swaps have evolved to be more performative, which wasn’t my original intention but now I am learning to embrace that aspect. By re-enacting this ‘retail’ space, we are pushing that further than any other time I have put on a swap. But at the end of the day, this is primarily a presentation of the sustainability, clothing, and consumption investigation I have been doing for a poetic project for several years. Some iterations of these writings for the project will be at the core of the swap, acting as the ‘soundtrack’ of the space, replacing the role of how music drives the consumptive moment in real retail space. Performing them will be the ‘currency’ for participation.

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To Being Unreasonable in 2015

from Kameelah Janan Rasheed’s “How to Suffer Politely (And Other Etiquette for the Lumpenproletariat)”

in spring of 2014 you hear Alice Notley read for the first time in your life. because it’s spring, you wear the wrong things and end up with a pile of cardigans and scarves piled at your feet and tucked into your armpits. you drink champagne because you were, at the time, in a depression. hours earlier, the day of the reading, you had seen Alice in front of a Popeye’s in Bed-Stuy. you couldn’t be sure but you were sure; it was her. you felt it, and it was a strange thing to feel. the day after the Notley reading, you find a brick wall near your apartment and write out in capital mint-colored letters the only thing you remember from her reading: “I DON’T HAVE A PLAN/ I HAVE A VOICE.” you don’t know why you do it but you do it. this feels important.

a few weeks before the Alice Notley sighting, you go to a colleague’s poetry reading at Unnameable Books. afterward they are going to the Copula reading at Wendy’s Subway—they ask if you want to join. you want to and don’t want to—something feels off—and ultimately walk home sulking. you don’t know how to make friends and this has become a problem. you feel shy. or are you distrustful? people make you nervous and exhausted. especially poetry people—the possibility for false intimacy is high. to ease your anxiety, you tell yourself you would have just gotten drunk at Copula and would be hungover the next day. you know what that space is like. later in the night, you get a few texts telling you to come to Copula but you don’t. the moon is full inside you like a knowing thing. Continue reading


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