Ethereal Interviews with Mauve Perle Tahat: Ingrid Calderon Collins


Using 5 images 2 songs and 3 text messages, describe the writer inside of you.

Janitor of Lunacy, Nico

New Dawn Fades, Joy Division

author unknown

by Lenora Carrington

by Lenora Carrington
by Lenora Carrington

“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” (1814) by Katsushika Hokusai

What non living relative understands you most and what do you want them to know about your world right now? 

My Navajo Grampa, Felix Sierra Montoya, whom isn’t related to me by blood but by choice. I talk about him a lot in poetry and specifically in my memoir. He was the only adult that honored my childhood and its tenderness. The one who allowed me to make mistakes and showed me what warmth, summer and Christmas should feel like. I want him to know that his memory has kept me going during my darkest days, and that I took his advice, “when picking a partner Ingrid, always look at how he treats his mother—that’ll tell you how he’ll treat you.”

For each interviewee I am picking a page from Talal’s [my oldest child] Ispy book and asking them to describe what they see like a Rorschach test.

I see the Judgement Card in the Tarot and I hear Spellbound by Siouxsie and the Banshees. A resurrection of the selves, in all their unapologetic smiles, in all their sacred stink, beckoning from inside their invisible cribs, crackling with laughter—exorcising. 

I see you as a postmodern psychopomp. What would you say about this?

That’s such a beautifully strange lens you see me through, thank you. Death is where I find answers. It’s where I go when I want to feel the depth of living. It is an addiction. I often picture myself on my deathbed or imagine what it feels like to lose the ones I love the most, so that when that time comes the shock will feel more like stepping into a hot bath, oiled fingers on my temples, or sharp fingernails on my scalp. That’s the hope anyway. I think I’ve helped people kill versions of themselves while they’ve simultaneously done the same for me. My country sits on what is known as the “Ring of Fire,” so I’ve always been hyper aware of my mortality and its finiteness. I’m more than happy to help people through metaphorical funerals to situations and/or people they can’t seem to shake. I hope to also be there for my parents when they close their eyes and wake up to open them again. 

When I see your presence with your partner, I notice you seem connected to a certain depth of love. Your subject matter reflects this too in a way that may seem macabre to some yet is what I’ll call engulfing care. Can you explain this part of your voice and the origin?

Without trying to sound like a broken bird, love, in its primal definition, wasn’t evident in my family bubble.  Love was food, shelter & the occasional new outfit. Blessed are the parents that provide, but inside of me lived an inferno. I yearned to be coddled, kissed and petted. Without going into too much detail, my abuser saw this and attempted to break me. He didn’t. The fire never left. I felt a longing, a desire to engulf someone the way I often dreamt it felt like to be engulfed. I wanted to love and be loved in such a way that it would taste like an exquisite misery, something that left a scar, broken bones—a buzzing fever. When I found John, after decades of reconstructing myself, it was easy to give into the feeling because he felt it too. His way. The way I love is primal, untamed—he is more like a bashful tsunami.

You had a laconic quote captioning on Instagram post of your childhood the other day and I loved it: “So wonderful how we’re born, we fuck up, we realize life is short, we love and we die.” Tell me about your relationship with nostalgia.

I spent decades living in my past. Wishing I had done this or that. Cursing myself for the choices I made, for the lovers I loved and the people I hurt. I spent endless hours playing out scenarios about what my life would’ve looked like if I had never left my country, or if I would’ve been born with different parents. So much wasted time. Now, my nostalgia comes when I beckon it. It is something that lives beside me, not in me. Sometimes I feel like digging, sometimes I feel like crying. Some days I don’t. It’s all about balance. It’s all necessary. 

The picture in that post was given to me earlier that same day by my mother. That’s a particular favorite of mine because I can see the love and fire in my eyes, the alcohol and glee in my father’s, and the cold resilience in my mother’s delicate stance.

Ingrid M. Calderon-Collins is an immigrant from El Salvador. Her work has been featured in YES POETRY, Luna Luna Magazine, FIVE:2:ONE and Moonchild Magazine amid others. She was the hostess of the monthly poetry reading series, “They’re Just Words” at Book Show, where she featured poets from all over L.A. County from 2017-2019. Currently, she runs a literary magazine called RESURRECTION mag, where she encourages poets, artists and photographers to show the world their joys and their sorrows. She is the author of thirteen books. She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, painter John Collins. Search Ingrid’s published collections for some superb reading. To support and learn more you can also get started here.