Interview with Chloe Caldwell, Curator of the Hudson River Loft Reading Series
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
On Saturday, November 12th, Chloe Caldwell will kick-off the Hudson River Loft Reading Series in her home in Hudson, New York. The reading will feature “Twelve diverse authors” who “will read poetry, essays and excerpts from their books. There will be wine and there will be beer and there will be socializing and there will be books for sale.”
Readers will include: Daniel Nester, Sean H. Doyle, Chloe Caldwell, Stacy Pershall, Danielle Winterton, Ryder Collins, Mira Ptacin, Matthew Savoca, Kendra Grant Malone, and Eric Wybenga.
We met up with two strong drinks on a rainy October night in Southeast Portland to discuss the significance of time and place as well as how the Pacific Northwest helped Caldwell write a book.To start the interview, Caldwell made five quick choices between two options. Her selections are in bold. I encourage you to try this at home.
- First to Arrive or Last to Leave
- Girlfriend or Lover
- Travel or Escape
- Sleep-in or Sleep-over
- Possibility or Fate
JO: Why does your Hudson Loft feel like home? What do you hope people will notice while they are there?
CC: The loft feels like home because Hudson is the closest thing I’ve found so far to what I am looking for. I like places where I can live without a car. In Hudson, I can walk to the train station in ten minutes, Stumptown in two minutes, the bookstore and bars in five minutes. That’s special.The loft feels like home to me because of its ambiance. I hope people will feel comfortable and unabashed — at home, even. I get my creative work done here and so my does my father. I’ll write, and he’ll be playing guitar or the hurdy-gurdy. Also, since I work downstairs at the music store, I meet many musicians and artists that are primarily making their living that way. Working in this environment affects me. I’m happy doing it. Imagine what I’d be like if I worked in, say, a bank.
JO: How did you choose the readers for the Hudson River Loft Reading Series?
CC: I solicited people whose writing I admire. It’s authentic, gritty and brave. I solicited many nonfiction writers because I gravitate towards them. Freerange Nonfiction was an inspiration for starting the series, but I want it to be open to all genres since we didn’t yet have a reading series in Hudson.
JO: You mention that you’re twenty-five on your website. It seems like you hold yourself accountable for those twenty-five years.
CC: I’m a nonfiction writer. I’m obsessed with real life, with my birthdays and other people’s birthdays. My brother will say to me, “Okay Chloe, it’s October 3rd. What were you doing two years ago on October 3rd?” And I know. I keep a lot of journals. I take notes on everything. I remember things that don’t matter to some people, but they matter to me.
JO: You’ve spent a bit of time in the Pacific Northwest. How has this influenced your thoughts and approach to writing?
CC: I moved to Seattle because I wanted to write. I was taking classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop in Manhattan, but my lifestyle was like: work all day and drink all night. I started to realize that there was no way that I could go home and write for six hours. I wanted to do that. I wanted to kill off my social life.
In Seattle, I had no friends, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a scene. The book that’s going to come out in April — I wrote that fucking book in Seattle. A lot of material was from New York, but I had to move away from it to be able to look at it and write about it. After a year in Seattle, I still didn’t love it there. I had done the work I’d gone there to do, but my family and friends were in New York. I missed them so I moved back.
JO: Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” What do you hope readers will get from Legs Get Led Astray when it’s released by Future Tense Books in 2012?
CC: Tonight at The Blue Monk, I’m going to read some humiliating, some sweet, some sad stuff. Maybe some people will remember my sentences, but I hope they get the feeling that, Wow, that girl was honest with me — that girl made me feel brave. She made me want to write. If I can make people feel like they want to go write or be brave or get over that hump of self-doubt or insecurity, that would make me feel good.
JO: Being authentic to the place, the time and the moment. Is this what you’re after in your writing?
CC: I’m obsessed with where I was when certain things happened. If I fell in love when I was in New York then, you know, New York gets points. If I didn’t fall in love in Seattle, Seattle is down a little bit. I definitely rate cities.
Recently, I was writing my acknowledgements of my book just for fun, and I was thanking New York, Seattle, Berlin, Hudson, Portland because as much as I didn’t have the time of my life in Seattle, I wrote my book there. You kind of always hold that place in your heart. I got the material in New York. I did the dirty work in Seattle.
I think in places. If I’m walking down the street having a good time and I’m in Portland, then Portland becomes magical.
Want to participate in the next Hudson River Loft Reading Series, or get involved or want more information? E-mail cocomonet[at]gmail[dot]com.
— Judith Ossello currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Find her at www.writerloop.com.
— Chloe Caldwell is a non-fiction writer living in Hudson, New York. Her first book, Legs Get Led Astray will be released by Future Tense Books in April of 2012. She writes a column for The Faster Timescalled “Love & Music” and is a contributor to We Who Are About To Die.