BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
Recently, I interviewed Kate Horowitz, poet, essayist, and science writer in Washington, D.C. Horowitz has written about living with chronic illness and disabilities for Luna Luna in her essay here, which she wrote, “Chronic illness is a constant negotiation with grief. Periods of recovery and reprieve are followed by seasons of loss. The things we love, or need, or have, are taken from us again and again. Sick women learn along the way that it is wise to mourn and move on. Why waste the time we have been given trying to rewind the clock?”
In addition, Horowitz has had poetry published, including two poems at Yes Poetry. I asked Horowitz about happiness, her favorite books, what surprises her, and what scares her.
Describe your favorite meal.
I'm terrible at picking favorites. The meal that brought me the most joy recently was a steaming bowl of spicy ramen on a cold, rainy night.
What have you been listening to lately?
Last night I went to see Bad Moves, which was the most fun I've had at a show in...forever. I felt like an extra in a summer-camp movie—the kind where, at the end of the summer, the plucky, lovable misfits put on a concert for their friends and oh, would you look at that, they're all phenomenal musicians, and everyone is dancing and laughing, and for that moment, everyone feels connected, and exuberant, and safe, and everything is all right.
Also on repeat this week: Phoebe Bridgers (always), Hop Along, The 1975, end-of-year pop mashups, and a ton of Ariana Grande, obviously.
Choose three books that you've always identified with?
For the last 8 years or so, my guiding stars have been Corrag by Susan Fletcher, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and Maggie Nelson's Bluets. I actually just published a poem about what Bluets has meant to me.
Choose one painting that describes who you are. What is it?
Right now I'd say Rebecca Chaperon's "Cloaked" or Angela Deane's "Tiny Friends Against a Big Ocean" (that's mixed media, but whatever). Some days it's Alice Pike Barney's "Medusa" or Katsushika Hokusai's "Great Wave" (technically a woodblock print).
Choose a gif that encompasses mornings for you.
I'm chronically ill and naturally nocturnal. My symptoms are worst in the morning. On good days, I start feeling okay around noon.
What do you imagine the apocalypse is like? How would you want to die?
Give me a Rogue One-style ending, an instantaneous flash of light that arrives only once I know I have done all I can for this world, with just enough warning to let me embrace someone I love.
If you could only watch three films for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Only Lovers Left Alive, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Lilo & Stitch.
What’s your favorite animal?
Watasenia scintillans, the firefly squid. They're tiny and live only a year and are spotted with electric-blue bioluminescent cells. Certain cells light up for hunting, and others for camouflage. During courtship, the squid light up their entire bodies, and just glow, and glow, and glow.
What's something that surprised you recently?
How powerful I've felt.
What do you carry with you at all times?
A satin-soft black pebble from a cold cave by the sea.
What are you afraid of?
Mob mentality. Cruelty. Abandonment. Hurting people. Whales.
What are some of your daily rituals or routines?
I recently restarted Esmé Weijun Wang's Rawness of Remembering journaling course and have been doing that late at night. I've also been lighting two candles: one, royal blue, to honor my heart, and the other, violet, to honor mystery and the unknown. Most weekday mornings I take my medication, wash my face, make a cup of coffee, and email my best friend before settling in to work.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
Crafting and sharing beautiful writing that touches and helps people. Seeing the mess I was making of my life, and turning it around. Surviving. Transforming. Any time I've been a good sister or friend.
Define happiness for you.
Small birds splashing in puddles. Answering the door for trick-or-treaters. Sitting on the floor with a dog. Making art. Making my friends laugh. Dancing. Walking down a city street on a crisp autumn night with "Don't Delete the Kisses" in my ears. Seeing wonderful people succeed. Feeling brave and useful and strong. Kissing. Eat[ing] cold pizza on your steps at dawn (Hera Lindsay Bird, "Pyramid Scheme").
What’s something you want to do in 2019?
My hair's been getting bigger and witchier lately. I'd like to encourage it to keep doing that.
I want to hold things lightly. I want to say "no" more often. I want to protect myself as fiercely as I protect others. I want to make my home and my heart safe, sacred spaces. I want to love and be loved. Mostly, I want to be kind (Mary Oliver, of course).
Joanna C. Valente is a human who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They are the author of Sirs & Madams, The Gods Are Dead, Marys of the Sea, Sexting Ghosts, Xenos, No(body) (forthcoming, Madhouse Press, 2019), and is the editor of A Shadow Map: Writing by Survivors of Sexual Assault. They received their MFA in writing at Sarah Lawrence College. Joanna is the founder of Yes Poetry and the senior managing editor for Luna Luna Magazine. Some of their writing has appeared in The Rumpus, Them, Brooklyn Magazine, BUST, and elsewhere. Joanna also leads workshops at Brooklyn Poets. joannavalente.com / Twitter: @joannasaid / IG: joannacvalente / FB: joannacvalente
Kate Horowitz is an essayist, poet, and science writer in Washington, D.C. She is also a chronically ill and disabled lady; an enthusiastic, if clumsy, dancer; a cross-stitcher; and a fan of dogs and toddlers. She likes the moon, and moss, and rain, and bedtime snacks, and long walks at night.