BY JOANNA C. VALENTE
If words are spells, then I’d say Logan February’s are. As a poet, February understands each word matters and counts. Everything is purposeful. When I first read February’s work, I was stunned into silence. In “Stillbirth, Yemoja,” for instance, the poem starts with the idea that language is both everything and nothing, just as bodies are:
“In my language there is no translation
for mismatch and no word for membrane.
Skin translates to flesh translates to body.
A person is bound so they are heavier.”
Of his poetry chapbook, In Painted Blue with Saltwater, Kaven Akbar wrote that “the poet swims with sea monsters, becomes a feather, becomes a window, becomes a safe house by the sea. This is the great pleasure of Logan’s poetry—whatever lamentable situation the speaker finds himself in, there is always a way to shapeshift back toward the light: “Because I am / void & because I am vast & because / I am ocean.” What welcome gifts, these gorgeous poems.”
I was able to speak with February about art, writing, and more (and don’t forget to preorder his full length collection Mannequin in the Nude, which is due out in April from PANK):
Describe your favorite meal.
I have a pretty strange relationship to food. I don't eat much, but I love to cook. My favorite thing to cook is probably jollof rice. It's a popular rice dish in Nigeria, really savory and spicy. I particularly like that you have to let it burn a little, so it has something of a smoky essence, as well. I find the time and process of preparation quite hypnotic and relaxing.
What have you been listening to lately?
My boyfriend is a bit of a genius with playlists, so I'm very often listening to the compilations that he makes me (mostly love songs, ha). I've also been listening to Sharon Van Etten's new record, Remind Me Tomorrow. And I only just got into BØRNS but they have such a great sound! I recently started on a little passion project, and while I'm working on it, I listen to Sade, SOPHIE, Lorde, The Knife, and Kelis.
Choose three books that you've always identified with?
I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson is one book that crushed me and gave me life and made me believe in so many things, as a queer teen. It's such a wonderful and strange book! My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante blew me away with her portrayal of female friendships and I was thoroughly captivated by her style. And Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha is probably the novel that made my little poet heart decide that I have to write a novel.
Choose one painting that describes who you are. What is it?
Most probably Rene Magritte's Invisible World. I think that would be an accurate representation of who I am, largely.
Choose a gif that encompasses mornings for you.
Definitely the one with Rihanna rolling up her window disdainfully. I don't like mornings. At all. I stay up through the dead of the night, so I often rise when the sun is way up.
What do you imagine the apocalypse is like? How would you want to die?
I hope the apocalypse is an alien invasion, I think that would be interesting. I feel like it will probably be a series of natural disasters though. I hope it's not war or some contagion. I think I would like to die by carbon monoxide poisoning. I've read that it's just like going to sleep.
If you could only watch three films for the rest of your life, what would they be?
About Time, The Martian, and Moana.
What’s your favorite animal?
I love cats. Birds, too. Any small animals, really. If it's tiny, it will probably bring me close to tears.
What's something that surprised you recently?
My boyfriend’s cat ran away! My theory is that she heard him talking about getting another cat, and could not stand the disrespect. We've all heard LEMONADE, it makes sense. We are hoping she will come back though, and we're gonna heal.
What do you carry with you at all times?
I have a small collection of stones from a few memorable places, they are always in my bag wherever I go.
What are you afraid of?
I'm afraid of needles. I'm afraid of the terrible power that religion has over so many people. I'm afraid of growing old because life can be so cruel. I'm afraid of being able to imagine a better life and being unable to reach it. I'm afraid no one will care when I die.
What are some of your daily rituals or routines?
I try to do push-ups every day when I wake. Send emails. Waste time on Twitter. Read poems. Beyond that, anything could happen.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
I guess I wrote a few books about my feelings and have gotten to speak in some really cool spaces, like 2018’s Aké Festival. If I'm being honest, though, I'm not very proud of anything I've done.
Define happiness for you.
A quiet life with funny and kind people, freedom from my oppressive family and society, a free schedule so I can read more, funds to make my dreams more than just dreams, weed and red wine.
What’s something you want to do in 2019?
Find mental equilibrium. Learn to paint. Complete my sad gay novel. Meditate more. Get free.
Logan February is a Nigerian poet. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Washington Square Review, The Adroit Journal, Vinyl, Paperbag, Tinderbox, Raleigh Review, and more. He is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and his debut collection, Mannequin in the Nude (PANK Books, 2019) was a finalist for the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He is the author of two chapbooks, and the Associate Director of Winter Tangerine’s Dovesong Labs.
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