Robin Lee Mozer’s intense and moving work appears in the September issue. She talks with us about talking to the past, her stylistic choices, and the absences that scare her.
What would your 23-year-old self tell your 16-year-old self? What would your 16-year-old self tell your 61-year-old self?
My 23-year-old self would tell my 16-year-old self to Date Other People and to try vodka sooner. My 16-year-old self would tell my 61-year-old self to go buy the Pony we’ve always wanted and not to name it something stupid like Her Golden Slippers. She would also remind my 61-year-old self that speed limits are Still Overrated.
How often do you talk to the past?
Present Robin frequently talks to Past Robin. When Past Robin remembers to set the timer on the coffee pot the night before, Present Robin heaps many praises upon her. When Past Robin sets the car keys down someplace outlandish, however, Present Robin uses several strong phrases that may or may not be suitable for polite company. Present Robin occasionally talks to Future Robin but these conversations are never Especially Fulfilling.
What is the significance of so many proper nouns in your story?
Nouns and Verbs and occasionally a few Choice Adverbs. In German, we capitalize all Nouns, something I rather like, but something that also seems like overkill; not all Nouns are that important. My pieces capitalize the Important Parts, the parts that I value, the parts that must be called out by name because they are so significant to not name them would be untrue.
Other than black, what absences scare you?
The absence of Sound.
The absence of Others.
The absence of Physical Touch.
What would you rather be a professional at?
My other major, vocal performance, because it’s cool to say “I’m a professional opera singer,”Â but otherwise, it’s just not Socially Acceptable to be a classically trained operatic soprano. You cannot, for example, sing karaoke. No one wants to hear a classically trained operatic soprano sing karaoke.
Who would you pawn at Goodwill?
My undergraduate piano teacher, Edna Brown, who always wore woolen skirts in shades of brown or grey and who used to beat time with a Wooden Ruler on the edge of her old upright piano as I struggled to play my scales and arpeggios. Edna Brown would be an authentic accent piece for some grad student’s 1950′s retro living room set: a sofa, an afghan, a coffee table, and an Edna. The staff at Goodwill should put her and her Ruler in the furniture section right next to the hulking cabinet TV and the mustard and brown plaid woolen sofa.