My first exposure to Dani Tauber (on IG as fetchspirit and Twitter as @DRAINPIPEEE) and her work was through my role on a site called Screenshot Lit, founded by myself and MMPP's own EIC. I followed her socials and we have got acquainted more since, so when she announced some upcoming projects, I wondered if MMPP needed a more objective writer to report on it.
We'll just make it a new feature, where MMPP staff introduces you to some of their favorite people.
Isn't that what friends are for?
This interview was conducted by correspondence, which Tauber said felt "like a MySpace survey," which I am taking as a huge compliment. We talked about her poetry, her music journalism past, her burgeoning antiques business, and how a jarring experience in her youth changed the trajectory of her creative journey. (The following has been slightly edited for, y'know, editorial and chronological reasons -- okay, it's because I can't ask questions in a straight line and I fix it in post.)
Dani Tauber, where were you born, where are you from, and where do you call home now?
Born, raised, and currently in the NJ Pine Barrens! Trying to get deeper into the woods, actually.
Did these surroundings have any influence on your work? (Or alternately, any urges to leave these places that impacted your art?) You’ve mentioned a sheltered childhood, being shy, dealing with bullies… how do you make that transition from solitary writing into writing community, and apart from the academic track some of our fellow writers have taken?
Now that I'm older I can appreciate the little nuances of where I come from, but growing up weird in a small town wasn't fun. Small town public school doesn't really appreciate artistic, unique, or different children, but my mom did a lot to encourage my writing when I was real young and in second grade I started getting academic recognition for it on top of reading well above my grade level, so I guess that was good. But I still couldn't write about what I wanted to write about without getting shit for it. In seventh grade I got pulled out of class over something I had written that I'll admit may have been concerning but was stolen from me and turned in to a guidance counselor unfairly. My mom, who did not drive, was told she had 15 minutes to get me or I'd be sent to the hospital - luckily she made it. I was suspended for three days and two crisis counselors showed up at my house unannounced to go through my belongings looking for a reason to have me committed. So obviously, by the time I ACTUALLY needed help, I was too afraid to ask for it! I didn't share my "real work" at school anymore; I put it online and learned my voice and met like minded people that way. The internet was a HUGE escape and literal life saver for me. It wasn't until my creative writing class in college with Jayanti Tamm that I realized my work had any real merit at all, but she really enjoyed it and I think that's probably when I decided maybe one day I'd try to publish some of it. This got really long-winded because I have a lot of feelings about it. I'm sorry.
TL;DR: any direct influence my environment had on me was most likely negative but I first accessed the A Softer World webcomic on the school computers and that was pretty life / voice changing so thanks for that.
As for transitioning into the community...I feel like I just kinda publicly do my thing as I've always done, and the right people have found it and appreciate it and resonate with it which I am extremely grateful for. As for academia and lit and where they meet...I'd rather listen to a drunk on a sidewalk at two in the morning than anyone who thinks they're good because their $58k/year tuition told them so. Not to be an asshole or anything. I probably sound like an asshole.
What got you into zines, what zines or creators have you enjoyed?
I'm not sure exactly when this fascination happened. It wasn't the huge cultural thing in my small town that it was in other, cooler places; a lot of my exposure to things like this came from making friends out of town / state. I had bought zines at shows, and right after I graduated high school I started writing for Scene Trash Magazine which was essentially a regional music zine before it went larger-format. After that, I wrote for The Aquarian. After college through a former co-worker I met a college professor who is absolutely in love with zines and he got me making them; I released a 6 micro-zine set and five zines in those first early years. I started helping him teach zine workshops on campus and we did Philly Zine Fest together a few times. His name is Rich Russell, and I've enjoyed all of his zines, as well as our friend John Guttschall's 'Coleslaw Adhesive.' I also have enjoyed reading Jesse Feinman and Kaitlyn Buhrman.
Who are some of the authors you read early on that are significant in context of the work you do now?
Joey Comeau is ESSENTIAL reading for anyone who enjoys my work in any capacity. He taught me, via the format of A Softer World, how to say so much in very few words. And because I was always reading above my age level, I was hungry for more mature content early on. The YA Fiction section at the library was a safe haven, and I read ALL of the edgier books at least twice. I read Plath and Sexton and that didn't help me mentally in any way I'm sure but stylistically was very important. Books like White Oleander and Prozac Nation...I also found both Hole and The Muffs in the CD selection at the library by some grace of god. I read those liner notes and lyrics until I had headaches.
While a lifelong writer, poetry was your first love, and music journalism was an additional track for you later on. When did you decide to leave the latter behind, and why?
I left music journalism for a few reasons. At one point I had my own column in a publication and they declined to print an article I wrote about creating safe spaces in music for women, even after I redacted a bunch of [true] allusions to issues in the local scene. I didn't like that. I had never been 100% safe in that gig environment, but I really started to notice it as I got into my 20's and started socially drinking and started to meet new people [men who would eventually stalk and threaten me]...safety was a big reason. Someone who'd threatened my life in the past shares the same musical taste, ya know? If I run into them, they seem pretty into harming me. I just hung it up officially when I was maybe 24-ish. I retired haha. I miss it a lot sometimes, it was a lot of fun. I would love to either work with bands again or release some music of my own.
How did you get involved in the writing community, deciding to run things like Vulnerary Magazine and not only just write? How has your EIC experience been so far?
I kinda just wanted to do it, and I finally had the time and money, so I did it. I like to feel like I've been punched in the chest after I read something - like, that kind of catharsis - and wanted to publish work like that. So far my only complaint is how fucking expensive it is to do literally anything that brings you joy AND keep it free and accessible so others can participate also. I appreciate how hard people who are doing things on a larger scale than I am are working, behind the scenes. It's a lot.
When did you get into antiquing? How has the Witch Fingers venture progressed? What is your favorite thing you’ve ever found (whether you sold it later or kept it for yourself)?
If you ask my father, I've been a 'junk / dust collector' my whole life. I feel like that's what he gets, for dragging us to flea markets in friggen December to look for Christmas gifts as my feet froze in my Converse. I like pretty, unique, old things. I specialize in mourning and funerary items specifically; I started Witch Fingers in 2015 on yet another whim and it took off in a way that allowed me to do events like the Bloodmilk Night Market or the Witch Market in Philly, and I'm currently selling through Shoreline Vintage & Antiques in Richland, NJ. I like to think I honor the former owners by appreciating long-lost and forgotten personal histories. As for my weird taste, I probably saw Addams Family Values way too young and it was imprinted. I have a lot of favorite items in my collection, but the 14k gold, seed pearl, and human hair mourning cross pin / pendant with the cabinet card of the original owner wearing it stands out!
How has Patreon worked for you? I've recently talked to writers who launched projects with Kickstarter, so I’m curious as to the advantages or drawbacks when you compare the two methods?
I actually hate that my stuff is behind a paywall - I'd been sharing publicly my whole online life. I made the platform switch for two reasons: I lost my job to a pandemic and needed to monetize everything I could, and plagiarism that was always an issue really started to get to me as 'jlsf' was taking off. I hate the paywall. It alienates the people who've appreciated and supported my work for years but can't afford a monthly fee to keep reading it. I don't like equating my success to 'who can afford to show support' and the anxiety I get when I see someone has had to unsubscribe. It has, however, paid my phone bill the last two years, and I don't mean to sound ungrateful. I'm incredibly appreciative of all the support I receive. I don't know enough about Kickstarter to compare the two, but Patreon seems user-friendly enough and you can have tiers that offer different things for different subscription fees. It's just hard to exist on a crowd-funding platform when I know firsthand how people are struggling nowadays, if that makes sense.
Tell me what I should know about each of these new works? What do each of them represent in your creative path?
I've got a lot going on in March! I'm self-releasing a microchap / zine hybrid called '00' and preorders will probably be closed by the time you run this, but I hope to have them in the mail by mid-March. It's a collection of 10 poems about motels. It feels really good to be going back to my roots, albeit a little more polished this time around. 'ANGER IS GOSPEL' is a spoken word cassette being released by Summer Interlude Records; it's a noise label, so I'm curious to see how it's received. I'm so glad this project finally found a home, and a format I never expected, because it actually means a lot to me.
My forthcoming chapbooks 'marbling' and 'ex ossibus' (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press 2022) were written simultaneously, and Freddy was kind enough to take them together and release them at the same time. We're doing a 2-in-1 book - I'm excited!
Aside from that, I'm working on a small collection of poems about lucky rabbit feet and trying to figure out the best and most safest way to release a collection of six NSFW short stories that was supposed to be a zine series called 'LONESOME THREESOME.'
And finally, do you feel any of your works represent you definitively? Or is that even possible, are you finding new phases as you dive into 2022 with all these new works?
'just like soft fruit' is pretty definitive, I'd say. It's a full-length collection, so it's all just kinda laid bare... 'marbling' and 'ex ossibus' deal with both despair and hope, though, so maybe I am growing towards the light a little these days. It's long overdue. I'm pale as fuck.
h. is the Meow Meow Pow Pow blog editor, an enthusiast for antique and collectibles shops, and is also moving further into the wilderness. His own examples of weird taste and personal history are on the shelves of HubUnofficial.com.
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