SALT-nsa-700w
Sonya Vatomsky, lovely new friend, and author of Salt Is for Curing, has been interviewed previously by some very smart people who have asked some excellent questions of this ghostly poet of the witchy and intense.  I am not one of those people.

In my initial spurt of nosiness about this exquisite creature, I uncovered  a handful of informative, well-written and wonderfully interesting interviews with our subject today. And my conclusion is that there’s not much I can ask Sonya Vatomsky about poetry and the writing process that another more intelligent and more articulate person has not already shared with us. And as a matter of fact, I encourage you all to read these previous interviews when you can, because they offer fantastic insight into Sonya’s works.

I am, however going to ask some fun questions, which I have shared below, and we are offering a giveaway consisting of a signed copy of Salt Is For Curing, –so I hope you will continue reading!

I became acquainted with Sonya in early 2016 when I noticed that a user on Instagram calling themselves @coolniceghost started following my account. Normally I don’t pay a lot of attention to new followers on social media but an interesting username always piques my interest.  And come on…. COOL + NICE + GHOST!  That sounded too good to be true–I wanted to believe this mystery internet person is all of these things!

I discovered, with just a little bit of poking around on the internet, that this indeed all true. @coolniceghost turned out to be a poet named Sonya Vatomsky, (A POET! You know my heart exploded with this knowledge) whom I found on facebook and reached out right away to say hello. And here we are.

Sonya has written two collections, My Heart In Aspic, a book of :”sensory-rich poetry investigating the body, decay/fracture, rich marrow, salted flesh, and breathing in all the dark things”, as well as the more recent Salt Is For Curing, which is described deliciously by author Ariana Reines as “a feast, a grimoire, a fairy tale world, the real world. It’s also too smart for bullshit and too graceful to be mean about the bullshit”.

apotheosis
{Apotheosis / Salt Is For Curing by Sonya Vatomsky}

In my reading of Salt Is For Curing, it took all that I had not to devour this small book of spooky delights in one greedy instant. I feared that to do so, to ingest all of these potent magics at once, would give me a terribly heartsick sort of heartburn and yet leave me with the very worst sort of emptiness, knowing there is no more to be had. I drew it out for as long as I could stand.

Anyway, I do go on, don’t I?  We are going to talk about stuff and things and I trust that you will read further and enjoy. After having done so, please leave a comment to be included for the giveaway of one copy of Salt Is For Curing, signed by Sonya Vatomsky.  Do you have a favorite collection of poetry? A beloved fragrance? Maybe a strange ritual you’d like to share? Tell us all about it in the comments and a random winner will be divined by esoteric methods exactly one week from today.

Sonya Vatomsky
Sonya Vatomsky

 

Mlle Ghoul: The other night I had a dream that I peeled back the onion skin of my toes to uncover chocolate bonbons, which I plucked and ate with relish (I knew they’d grow back). What have you been dreaming about lately? What sort of stock do you put in dreams, if any? Are they signs, guide-posts for you? Or just brain-blips? Do they ever make their way into your poetry?

Sonya Vatomsky: Honestly, I kind of just have a lot of nightmares. I always have. They range from the basic psychopath-on-a-rampage kind to the crueler twists of, say, killing someone while blacked out and then having to explain that you’re a murderer to your parents who, against all mounting evidence, are maintaining your innocence during the trial because they know you, you would never. Because of this, I learned how to wake myself up from dreams when I was very young.When I’m really scared, I reach a sort of lucidity where if I force my eyes open really wide in the dream-state I’ll wake up. Besides the waking up trick, my lucid dreams are pretty useless. There’s a sort of misconception in lucid dreaming tutorials where people equate them with control over your dreams, which is just not accurate. Being self-aware doesn’t automatically make you God.

Speaking of dreams and sleep, you mentioned that you suffer from sleep paralysis. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with that?

Sure! It first happened in my late teens — scared the shit out of me, but I figured it was a freaky one-off nightmare. Then it occurred every few months for several years. I have an “all the toppings” version of sleep paralysis: aural hallucinations, visual hallucinations, and the cherry on top is an overpowering sense that there’s a demon in the room. I first read about sleep paralysis when I was 24 — 6 years ago — and since then it hasn’t happened much. Reading about it was very surreal. I was going through the Wikipedia pages of Japanese horror movies and reading the synopses and clicking links and ended up reading a medical paper on kanashibari. Having this frightening, seemingly-inexplicable, and deeply-personal thing medically explained (and experienced by other people!) was such a relief. In terms of the impact on my daily life, sleep paralysis was far more isolating than terrifying… or, rather, don’t we all have a very visceral fear that our mind has chosen an utterly unique kind of madness? That we’re somehow inherently blocked from ever being understood by another?

In Salt Is For Curing, the thread that ties so much of it together is food, but I get that it’s not really about food. You’ve said, and I am paraphrasing, that at the very root of these themes you write on– women, and bodies, and autonomy, and trauma, and power– it’s you exorcising your demons while “making people think they’re reading a witchy little book of folklore.” Which I think is fantastic and I loved that aspect of it. The role of food in folklore is such an interesting subject, though, and not one that I’ve thought on overmuch until now. I guess what I want to ask is how did you make these connections in relation to your own personal mythology and go about incorporating it into your poetry?

I think food and folklore both fall into my writing through the simple fact of me being Russian. Specifically a Russian immigrant, so my sense of culture has basically been distilled into those two things, partially because they’re such cultural building blocks but also because food and folklore are all you really have awareness of when you’re a child. I was six when I moved.

… but I am also obsessed with food, so we have to come back to that. Would you consider food/cooking a fascination for you, and has that been a constant fixation throughout your life or something that developed around the writing of these particular poems? What do you like to cook for yourself? What do you like to cook and serve to other people?

I’m impatient and busy so I usually cook things that can be done in 30 minutes, ideally with most of that time away from the stove. Baked fish with lemon, rosemary lamb, duck breast, tuna steak, that sort of thing. Also sandwiches. Always sandwiches. My current favorite is some kind of nice bread, gravlax, sliced hardboiled egg, tomato, mayonnaise, and hot sweet mustard. I’ll usually make the same type of dish for other people, because hosting means I’m a) stressed from accepting too much responsibility for the personal happiness of my dinner guest and b) drinking a lot, though I might upgrade my put-it-in-the-oven entree to cornish game hen. I can do piroshky and vareniki and pelmeni and borsch and all of that too but would need a third party to mind the guests because I’m very leave-me-the-fuck-alone in the kitchen.

Sonya+Vatomsky (1)
Sonya Vatomsky

Another thing you mentioned in an interview and I am taking it totally out of context here so that you can expand upon and play with it however you like, is: “I’m interested in myself quite a lot.” I cannot tell you how refreshing that was to read, and how excited, and well, RELIEVED I was to hear someone actually say that. You know, as a writer, I am extremely interested in myself, as well (I’m my favorite subject!)…but that’s not always something people are comfortable expressing, I don’t think. I was hoping that you could talk a little more about this.

My coolness and my writing ability have just never been things I questioned. Which doesn’t mean I assume everyone will adore me (why would it?) or anything; I’m just stressed out by starvation economies. Impostor syndrome is a thing I deal with, as are various insecurities about success, but I don’t conflate feelings about my movement through the world with my intrinsic sense of self, I guess? I think I’m super fucking interesting, and I get chills re-reading my own work, but that ego also frees me up to feel joy at the genius of others. There’s not a finite amount of coolness. I find books all the time that reduce me to Facebook-messaging incoherent “omg… you are disgustingly amazing”s to people and that’s a real pleasure.

Make America Goth Again
Make America Goth Again

Onto lighter things! One of the things we initially bonded over was our huge goth-y tee shirt collection–do you have any favorites right now?

MAKE AMERICA GOTH AGAIN, which I discovered through fellow goth Deirdre Coyle.

I don’t want to assume you are a fellow perfume enthusiast, but I sort of get the feeling that you might be. What sort of scents do you find yourself drawn to? Do you have a particular beloved fragrance?

Ha! I am definitely a perfume enthusiast. Except I find the alcohol in alcohol-based perfumes really overpowering so I mostly wear oils. My everyday stink is Sugar & Spite’s Brewster (buttercream frosting, candied violets, vanilla cake) with Common Brimstone’s Petite Mort (caraway, cardamom, leather, honey, rose) on top. I also really love BPAL’s Vixen (orange blossom, ginger, patchouli) but I’ve had it forever so it kind of just smells like the summer I was 21 at this point. My gotta-have-it oils are anything that mention campfires, dirt, or cardamom, and lately I’m really enjoying rose as well. Oh! Another always-favorite is Debaucherous Bath, though I purchase more lotions than perfumes from that shop. The Queen Bee (milk, honey, cardamom) is delightful.

I did read your post about perfumes the other day and am thinking of treating myself to Norne or De Profundis (though for those prices maybe I’ll just come over for a weekend and smell you a lot).

I think you and I have something else in common, too–that you don’t really love showering, because you don’t like getting wet. Me too, I hate it! I sort of have to trick myself into the shower, make a ritual of it with fluffy towels, fancy soaps and potions and unguents. This made me start thinking about our own individual, personal rituals. I was wondering if you had any that you might like to share? Whether with regard to getting your hair wet, or writing, or …whatever, really.

Showering is the worst. I exercise every morning and that does make me more inclined to shower, though I soaps and potions help as well. I like to have a creepy soap (gunsmoke, seaweed, rotting wood) and a sweet lotion. An off-putting handsoap is nice, too. Blackbird used to do a really strong, salty licorice one but since they discontinued it I’ve been using Nevermore Body Company’s Sacred Ground (chamomile, oak, black currant, dried leaves).

My other rituals are secret, for now.

You just traveled to Iceland! What did you love about it? Did you find any inspiration there? Anything that you might recommend to a fellow traveler on a whirlwind journey?

Iceland! The best thing we did was go to the Secret Lagoon which, first off, has a Facebook page so how secret is it really? The lagoon is an hour or so outside Reykjavik, and we did a night excursion where we got there around 9 or 10pm — it’s dark and freezing cold and next to the lagoon is this scary-looking cement shack structure and there’s a reddish light coming from somewhere that makes the entire scene look like the first result of when you go to a website of free desktop wallpapers and search for “creepy shit”. It was incredible! You get little floaties and float in the water, which is really warm, and there are these underwater speakers playing fucking Sigur Ros, and you can drink wine and then get a massage. Someone also brought a dog so I was petting this giant fluffer while drinking wine and being up to my waist in a hot lagoon.

Perfect. Then when you’re done soaking you get to have a little meal of cucumbers and tomatoes and black bread and schnapps and softboiled egg and the rotting piss shark thing which, I don’t know, definitely needs a lot of schnapps after it.

Photo credit: Sonya Vatomsky
Photo credit: Sonya Vatomsky

I am led to believe that you may have some great poetry recommendations. If one loved Salt Is For Curing, for example, what else might you suggest?

I HAVE SO MANY POETRY RECOMMENDATIONS. Recently I have read and loved:

Kate Litterer – Ghosty Boo
Janice Lee – Reconsolidation
Natalie Eilbert – Swan Feast
Segovia Amil – Ophelia Wears Black
Emily O’Neill – Celeris

Finally, closing on a more serious note– elsewhere, you referenced a J.G. Ballard quote:

“’I wanted to / rub the human face in its own vomit / and then force it to look in the mirror’—and that’s basically what I’m trying to do. Except with my vomit. In a nice way.” I know that our motivations and inspirations are constantly in flux, so I am wondering if this is still what you are trying to do? Or has this changed?

No, that still sounds about right.

Thanks again, Sonya, for entertaining my curiosity and indulging my nosy nature. And readers, remember to leave a comment below in order to be eligible for our giveaway of one signed copy of Salt Is For Curing.

salt

✥ 13 comments

IMG_1962Austin-based Chase & Scout creates beautifully crafted jewelry for those for those who walk a path between the dark and the light.  Blending ancient symbology, natural objects, and modern design aesthetics, designer and creator Elle Greene creates jewelry for kindred spirits, pieces that she hopes will resonate deeply with the wearer. Inspired by meditations on nature and the possibilities of unseen realms, these adornments are designed with an appreciation for the past while always looking forward.

Today I am thrilled to be sharing a recent interview with the lovely Elle Greene of Chase & Scout and hosting a giveaway over on Instagram for one of her gorgeous pieces, a stunning oxidized, sterling silver and labradorite pendant.

Read on to learn more about Elle and her creations and a chance to win!
…and P.S. there’s a 20% discount code for Unquiet Things readers at the bottom of the page, as well!

Mlle Ghoul: Tell us about Chase & Scout – the company, the aesthetic, and the vision.

Elle Greene: Chase and Scout was created in 2008, and is based out of my studio in Austin Texas. It’s a bit of a one woman operation. I conjure up, design, and hand craft every piece in the C&S collections. It’s very important to me that each component of my work be made from raw materials and by hand. There is a certain coldness to machine manufactured jewelry that is cranked out by the 100’s. I want the people who wear my work to feel its depth. Each piece has been in my hands, on my bench–it’s a closeness that I hope resonates with anyone who holds or wears my jewelry.

Aesthetically, I’m naturally drawn to the dark, but I let a little light in, as well. The mystique of ancient symbology, botanicals, and modern design are all aspects of my inspiration. I tend to steer clear of obvious inconology so that each wearer can ascribe their own meaning. A little mystery can be very powerful.

When you look back at the primitive roots of jewelry, it was used not only for physical adornment, but to announce tribal affiliation or provide spiritual protection. I see much of my work in this way. I am creating amulets and talismans that are charged, not only with what I have put into them, but also with what the owner brings to it. My vision is that these pieces become fixtures in their wardrobe and part of their daily armor.

IMG_2025

You mention that your jewelry is “with a bit of light and a bit of dark”, and that in your pieces you like to “ explore the duality of our own nature” – these are fascinating concepts and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on this and how it relates to the adornments that you create.

For me, it’s about the depth and breadth of the personality I am designing for. Personally, I like quirky and weird; I dig dark humor but not gore. I lean more towards a Victorian Gothic sensibility over graphic horror films. I think that the people who gravitate towards my jewelry have that same broad sense of attraction to all facets of this style. The term “Gothic” is too often dismissed as “all gloom, all the time”, and that’s simply not the case.

IMG_2198

You also refer to an appreciation for the past and an interest in ancient symbology with regard to your jewels – what are your influences and inspirations in this vein and can you give us an example of how you might incorporate them into a design?

I was really fortunate to grow up in an artistic family. My father was an archaeologist and we always had a museum’s worth of cultural relics around the house.

I gravitate towards items used in funerary rites and burial customs. All cultures have a series of mystical rites that need to be performed and objects ascribed solely for funerary use. One of the attractions to ancient cultures is that almost every object created contains decorative elements of form and function.

Ceremonial knives are quite beautiful, every tribe has at least one style that is specific to the region or era and I find a lot of inspiration in them. In New Guinea the warriors would carry these elaborate fighting clubs with shark teeth embedded along its edges: a seriously evil-looking object. The shape of that club, combined with the shape of the federal shield (iconic during the US Civil War and Victorian era) came together in my Skull and Shield earrings.

Shield Earrings

The Frida earrings from the same collection are derived from the Incan tumi axe. The tumi was used for ritual use in burials, and was also used in sun worship ceremonies. Your average passerby will simply see a pair of cool feathered earrings, but the owner knows they’re wearing an interpretation of a 2,000 year old sacrificial knife.

Frida Earrings

I know that you’re getting ready to release a new mini collection -what can we look forward to with this?

Mini collections are a lot of fun for me! It’s less pressure than a full line, which allows me to play and try out new ideas. Right now, I’m creating a small group of orchids and flora, just in time for the spring. For me, orchids carry a real presence that tiny flowers just can’t convey. Capturing something as fleeting and fragile as a flower in metal is definitely a technical challenge. I’ve found a Japanese alloy that allows me to achieve a deep patina in the metal. This Black Flower collection currently consists of pendants and earrings. I’m really excited to bring this collection to life!

IMG_2048

Where can we find your creations for purchase?

My website is the best place to find my current designs and collections. Anyone can visit Chaseandscout.com and purchase their favorite pieces directly from the site. Should you find yourself in Austin, stop by Blackmail Boutique on South Congress Ave. to see a selection of C&S jewelry in person.

Follow me on Instagram (@ChaseandScout) for a peek into studio life at the bench and my daily inspiration.

Thank you Elle, for graciously answering my questions, and for offering this generous giveaway!  Be certain to follow, tag, and repost for a chance to win!

P.S. Get 20% off of everything at Chase & Scout with code: UNQUIET now thru 3/20.

IG giveaweay

✥ 1 comment

samples copy

 

Thanks to all who entered my Summer Scents For Those Who Shun The Sun giveaway, over on the bloodmilk blog last week.  I loved reading all of your beautiful, evocative scent descriptions! Alas, I can only choose one winner, and according to the random number generator, our winner of samples for each scent listed (along with several other selections!) is….#7, Tai!

Tai, please email me at mlleghoul AT gmail dot com so that I can send these fragrances your way!

 

In the original post it seems I neglected to mention where these scents can be found.  Allow me to remedy that! Most of them can be found on amazon.  See below for links. Regretfully, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scent that I listed, “Danube” , looks like it is no longer on the site (I must have a really old bottle). I have found their scent “Arkham” to be strangely comparable, though..

Jean Couturier Coriandre on amazon
Annick Goutal Mandragore on amazon
L’Artisan Safran Troublant on amazon
Jo Malone Orange Blossom on amazon
Comme des Garcons Incense Series: Kyoto on amazon

 

✥ comment

…and the winner of my Weirdo giveaway*  is…#28, and that is Rachael! Thanks to everyone for playing along and taking a moment to comment and share something about yourselves. It was wonderful to learn a little about about you and hear all of your fantastic stories! I think we are all in good company.

I am trying to post a video of random dice rolling to choose the winner, but the embed code does not appear to be working. You can see it, (and hear me squeak out the number “28!”) here: https://instagram.com/p/0kjxbdgeLF/

*Please note: the items included in this giveaway are things that I have purchased myself.  This is not being sponsored by any of the brands or artists whose pieces are enclosed.
However! If you would like to send me something to use in a giveaway, I am certainly open to hearing about that.

✥ comment

(A few years back, a dear friend of mine and I started a little blog to document our fascinations and obsessions. It was fun while it lasted and then we grew busy with other things and let it go.  Which is ok! I think we were at a point in our lives at that time when we really needed that sort of companionable, cooperative outlet, and then our situations changed a bit and maybe we just didn’t need it anymore.  Or we got lazy, heh! Either way, she remains one of the dearest people in the world to me! This missive, below, is a repost from that time, but I wanted to hang on to it and move it to my current blog, for a new audience,and because, well, I believe it’s always relevant.)

Not sure where this image is from, but you can find it and more neat stuff at https://simondrax.com/

The night before Easter Sunday of my 4th year I was tucked into bed by my mother. Looking forward to a spring morning full of frilly Easter dresses, the pink & purple pastels of plastic eggs and straw baskets brimming with candies and coins, I contentedly pulled the covers up to my chin and perhaps lightly dozed at that point – but I don’t remember it quite that way.  As I recall not moments after the light was extinguished, I heard a noise from outside; I peeped above the quilted coverlet and received a terrible fright  – a demonic face, not inches from my own, leering at me from outside the darkened glass windowpane next to my bed!  Long ears with dark, matted fur… bent and flopping in a broken sort of way, black eyes glittering with menace and gigantic teeth, gnashing with dreadful intent – this monstrous mockery of the my beloved seasonal mascot was right outside my window!  Even more distressing was the fact that my bedroom was located on the second floor!

I woke the entire household with my screams.

I honestly don’t remember what happened after that, but I am certain it was that night that my fascination with the bizarre, the terrible and the inexplicable was born.

tumblr_ljtchzO3m01qclcde

I suppose that story does seem rather silly, but that along with a childhood rife with weirdness, I am not sure I could have turned out any other way.  Hm, let’s review:

  • My mother was an astrologer who often held meditation circles in our home (hint: these are populated by weirdos); she also became obsessed with the ouija board when I was very young…I remember spending what felt like an eternity every evening balancing the planchette with my tiny fingers while she, on her side of the board, spent hours on the phone!  I don’t think she was talking to anyone from “the other side”, which makes it all the more infuriating.
  •  Yearly visits to my biological father’s childhood home , which held promise of sleeping in haunted bedrooms with stacks of horror comics to fuel the imagination.  I’ll forever be fascinated and terrified of the beach at night due to a particular tale, which I’ve never been able to find again. However, I have since been in contact with the Uncle whose room housed the comics and we have vowed to get to the bottom of the mystery. What we do know: it was Eerie or Creepy and probably between the years 1965-1967. I will report back with my findings!
  • My mother briefly dated a man who gave me a copy of Manly P. Hall’s The Secret Teaching of All Ages and a copy of the Thoth tarot deck for my 11th birthday.  Aside from Weird Al Yankovic, Manly P. Hall was one of my first secret crushes!  (I am still madly in love with Weird Al.)  It is also because of that man that I introduced HP Lovecraft as my favourite author on the first day of 6th grade, when other girls were reading about Jessica and Elizabeth in Sweet Valley High.
  • My stepfather was a member of a local chapter of the OTO as well as an author and “magician” in his own right.  I later went to work for him in his rare, occult book business and even designed his website for him.

Well, it feels good to get all of that off my chest!  What about you folks? What seminal moment from your childhood contributed to the weirdo that you are today?

I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment and you will automatically be entered into a giveaway for a small package o’weirdness.  Contents are currently being deliberated upon, but will include at least the items pictured below.
A random winner will be chosen in one weeks time!

 

✥ 49 comments