Digesting New Wave Vomit
New Wave Vomit was an online lit journal run by Ana Carrete. It was an exciting site that featured work by a diverse range of writers, including many who had been previously unpublished. Ana published hundreds of young writers, among whom the familiar names are too many to list (although Dazed Digital did publish a nice list of their favourite pieces). The website had a unique design, the top of each page covered with a long list of numbers, from one all the way up into the late two hundreds, each one a link to a different writer’s work. You didn’t know who you were going to be reading until you clicked through and saw their words superimposed onto an individualized background and I remember checking back regularly to see if any new work had been posted.
A bunch of the contributors told me about working with Ana and why they liked New Wave Vomit (spoiler alert: they agree with me on the design):
New Wave Vomit was such a nexus of the early Alt Lit scene. Its format served to highlight the work of individual—and mostly new—voices. What I remember most is the site’s design—a list of numbers, each a gateway leading to a unique, repeating wallpaper overlaid with accessible, honest texts. It’s hard for me to decide if I love Ana C more as a writer or a curator; she is a legend in both fields.
New Wave Vomit was a fun magazine with really amazing web design. I loved how intentionaly difficult it was to navigate the site with all the issue numbers. I liked working with Ana. I’ve always liked her poetry & I first knew who she was because of nwv.
The first time I came across New Wave Vomit I binge read the entire site over a two or three day stretch. It was a website that always made me stay up too late. The web design felt like a sugar hallucination, and the writing was as equally feverish and attention-grabbing. I found a lot of my favorite new writers through NWV. To me, that site was like CBGB’s or Whiskey a Go Go in their prime. It made magazines like The New Yorker seem almost instantly irrelevent. I didn’t care about getting published there anymore. I wanted my own number on New Wave Vomit.
New Wave Vomit ruled. Ana created a physical realm to host the ideas and thoughts of dynamic human beings everywhere. It was a strange and beautiful phenomenon to suddenly be connected to all these free-thinking writers, artists, and poets from around the internet universe. I never imagined reading Hipster Runoff and and Tao Lin would lead me down such an intriguing rabbit hole of internet friends, literature, engagement, and something so purely modern. New Wave Vomit, again, rules. It remains one of the coolest fucking things on the internet.
I forget how I met Ana exactly. At some point we started emailing back and forth and then we started writing poetry in collaboration shortly thereafter. One of us would send some stuff to the other and we would tweak the poems and send them back. We would repeat this process over and over until we were both satisfied. I remember we described writing in that manner as a “destruction” of what the other had come up with, which was a fun way of working with another poet. A series of Ana’s collages accompanied each poem which we self-published online and, in some way, I feel the collages take the poems to another level. In contrast, another time I sent her some poems for NWV which she decided to publish as-is without any editing in all their uncouth glory. I think Ana has a special eye for poetry, for what it is and what it can be and an understanding of the varied processes that go into creating it.
I asked Ana some questions about the journal:
Why did you first start New Wave Vomit?
I was young and I did it simply because “others were doing it too”. People I followed on Blogger (back when we only had Blogger and Gmail Chat) had journals I liked and I wanted more of those spaces. I wanted to share things that excited me. If a text had one line that made me react, I would publish it. I was a beginner. I thought I could help people like me who were taking baby-steps and working on getting the courage to get their work out there. I also remember reading zines and only finding white male contributors. I wasn’t consciously aware of that trend in the world yet, but I do remember leaving a comment on someone’s blog saying something like “guys only?” I figured if an inexperienced person could publish whatever she wanted, things could change a bit.
How did you find work to publish before the site had built up a reputation?
We need a background story if I want to be completely honest about this.
It all started around 2008. The first thing I did was find people and leave comments on blog posts I liked. Like many others, the first blog I found was Tao’s. I found his url on the back of “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”. I would leave comments every now and then. But not a lot because I admired him and didn’t want to seem creepy. Like a good lurker, I would read other comments and click on the names of the ones I thought were leaving “good comments”. I left a lot of comments. My future mother in law remembered me from how much I commented on Mike’s blog. Isn’t that awesome? I mean, I’m marrying a person I met via email because of poetry. I fell in love with Martin Wall from the start. I believe we originally started talking because he read some comments I left on someone else’s blog, that made him curious, he read some of my entries, emailed me, and the rest is history.
It felt like I quickly found a group of writers that were very excited about reading others and sharing their raw work. I remember posting poems on my blog but also just rants about my days. At times, if someone posted just one line, I remember the response could get so intense and abundant. The comments longer in word count than the original post, but the one liner longer in awesomeness. We were younger and very emotional. Every interaction felt so honest. I wrote an 8 page document about it about 3 years ago. I haven’t shared it with anyone yet. This was part of an Independent Study. It might be time to leak it.
Okay, now I can answer the question. I reached out to writers I followed and they chose to contribute. By then some of us were friends or friendly enough for me to feel confident enough to ask anything of them. The response was very positive. It was like throwing four matches in a forest, suddenly everything is burning. I mean, some of the first contributors were people I loved and admired.
Originally I thought I got lucky because it feels like I started this project “at the right time” but let’s face it: We still need more spaces for literature in this world. Most writers are (almost) desperate to share their work. Are you desperate? Same.
Did you enjoy running the site?
I published more than 300 pieces/artists, so yes, I loved it. When I first started, I didn’t have a full time job, I was young and had the time, passion and energy to work on it for hours per day. It was amazing. I met many people through it and we became friends. I also published people I disliked at the time or later. I published the work, not the people. I even made “enemies” haha lol jk 😉
Are there any pieces or people that you’re particularly happy the site brought you into contact with?
So many pieces and people. I have to say it was a very social experience. I just wanted to find people I could relate to through writing. People who otherwise wouldn’t have shared their work with people they knew irl. For some of us, poetry was our hidden secret.
I made many friends through it, but I believe all pieces are equally important and contributed to making it what it is. I don’t want to name-drop. Do people still hate name-dropping or is that valued in today’s society? I could name-drop all day. I’m very proud of this library.
Why did NWV stop publishing? Was it a decision you made or did it just gradually become less of a focus?
In the beginning, I made collages for each page and basically published everything that was sent my way. Then it got out of control and I didn’t ask anyone for help. I thought I could still do everything by myself.
I don’t want to point fingers so I’ll just say that *something happened*, and that something triggered a certain type of submissions that I just didn’t think were the right fit. I started to get too many submissions of that type and it became more difficult for me to go through the emails.
Because again, not only did I have to dig for poems, I had to make background images for them. These were all things I chose to do because I enjoyed them but I didn’t think long-term (because I didn’t expect to do it for that long).
When I got a job, and then another one, the jobs got more complex and demanding. Going through emails felt like a chore. Some people were tactless. I got tired of the abuse. After a hard day at work, you don’t want to come back to three separate emails from the same person demanding detailed critique or a workshop. That was never part of the deal. It just turned into something different. It wasn’t all bad, but it was difficult.
You relaunched the site briefly in 2014 as New Wave Vomit Underground. Can you tell me a bit about that?
I wanted to publish Spanish speaking writers that are doing things that are out of the norm in their countries. That’s the main reason. Oh, and I got rid of the backgrounds so it became easier for me. But I still didn’t have the time I needed to run it like I used to. I wanted to have and make the time, but it just wasn’t doable.
You’re still paying to keep the NWV website online. Do you plan to keep the archive there indefinitely? Do you have any future plans for the site?
It feels wrong to delete all that hard work but I don’t have the money to pay for the hosting at the moment. I only paid for one month this year. It expires again in March, 2016. I need to reflect and get my priorities straight. The Facebook page and Twitter get followers and likes every week still, so that’s got to mean something. At least that means something to me. Shout out to those people. You know who you are. Love you.
What have you been working on since New Wave Vomit?
The complete answer would be very long. The summarized answer is: growing up. I’m not the same person I was when I started this project. And I guess you’re thinking, well, yeah, duh, it’s been 6 years now. It’s been 6 years now, and clowns want to be presidents. There’s so much hate in this country. It’s terrifying. I’m truly scared about what’s happening and what can happen. Like, “moving to Canada” isn’t the answer. If we get a terrible president, the entire world is screwed. My parents are scared and they don’t live in this country. Devaluation is too real. And not everyone knows how to use social media. We’re still trying to figure it out. During this job hunt, someone said something very brutal to me about poetry. Their comment can be summarized with 2 words: stop it. The reason: You won’t make any money. So we turned most of our social media accounts into lifestyle blogs. When did this happen? When we moved out of our parents’ house and realized life can be difficult? The most relevant thing that talks about our poetry might be in our bios. Link in bio. Everything else is food and work. Does anyone want to make poetry a money making business? Same.