Nic Alea on Redefinition and Living a Magical Life

An interview with Nic Alea, from The Write Stuff series over at SF Weekly:

I first saw Nic Alea as a nervous, unknown artist reciting poetry in Clarion Alley as part of Lit Crawl. Nic’s courage and passion changed something in me that day, and I’m proud to say I’ve been able to watch them grow: as an integral part of the launching of Quiet Lightning, having performed at our first seven shows, and then as co-creator and host of the new sh!t show, a bi-monthly open mic that features exclusively new work.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them … ?

I write poems and try to live a magical life.

What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

Allowing myself to tell my truth, engage in vulnerability, and not shy away when the beauty of it shows.

If someone said, “I want to do what you do,” what advice would you have for them?

Do you! What is success to you? If success is being what you want, who you want, then chase that beautiful life. As soon as you open the door to accept alternative lifestyles the ways to figure out how to navigate those lifestyles come pouring in. Also, slow ‘n’ steady, practice, patience, community.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

Any video by Rachel McKibbens or “Daddy’s Parking Lot Sermon” by Shira Erlichman:

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

When I was 10 I wanted to be a dentist because I was told that success and career = money. I didn’t realize that the things that make me feel good/strong are obtainable ways of living a life. I can’t say I admired anyone at that time because queer kids aren’t given role models.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

We wake up to smoldering camp fires, the tent is damp from morning mist. My best friend sleeps next to me. We put on thick socks and cozy sweaters, we trample through the mist and chase the smell of fir trees. We drink coffee and sit by the lake. I write poems and my friend sings. On loop.

Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.

Just for my lover.

How much money do you have in your checking account?

Not a whole lot. Enough for a burrito and a new notebook.

What’s wrong with society today?

Patriarchy, rape culture, people not acknowledging their privileges, transmisogyny, the binary, racism, classism, ableism, violence, fat shame, sex shame, femmephobia, I could keep going …

Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?


What is your fondest memory?

It’s the simple ones that shine in my mind: afternoon fog, zine libraries, the stage and the mic, genuine laughter.

How many times do you fall in love each day?

I can’t count the times on my hands but my deepest crushes develop when I hear the passion in people’s voices, when their stories fall so fast out of their mouths.

What would you like to see happen in your lifetime?

Everyone checks themselves and we all work together to create better communities and abolish the systems that have socialized us to be cruel toward each other.

What are you working on right now?

Unlearning anxious attachment and also how to be a better performer. Just finished a heavy chapbook called “no trees, all pianos.”

What kind of work would you like to do? Or what kind of writing do you most admire?

I’d like to be teaching creative writing/poetry classes to incarcerated folks. (Not working for the prison/state, don’t get it twisted, but for folks in the system that have a lot to say.) Also, touring and saying poems to people and learning and loving all over the place. Writing I admire: brave pathways that lead to truth. Also, intense metaphors. Also, poetry from writers who believe in their writing.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

More fog in Oakland!

A night on the town: what does that mean to you?

Dinner with friends, a show or a slam, a bike ride home, and nesting by 11!

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?

The way that people can change right before you eyes.

What can you do with 50 words? 50 dollars?

50 words can save a life, 50 dollars can buy 50 Street Sheet newspapers.

What are some of your favorite smells?

Lavender, pine, peppermint, musky basements, wet wood, pencils, right before a downpour, natural body odor of lovers, rosemary. Rosemary oil especially on my upper lip to help my hairs grow.

If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?

“I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night” — Sylvia Plath

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