Tuesday 9 May 2023

Micro-interview with Toby MacNutt

Toby MacNutt, author of “Live off the Land” in The Future Fire #65, joins us this week for a brief chat.

TFF: What does “Live off the Land” mean to you?

Toby MacNutt: I've been thinking a lot about exile, escape, survival, and what it means to be at home in a place. What does it mean to be safe or protected? What is the spirit of a place, or the spirits of people in a place? How do you know when you are ready to leave, or return? How do we recognize one another? All of these things have wandered through this story in one way or another, along with my usual love of textures and intimacy

TFF: Which natural or geographical feature do you feel most affinity for?

TM: I love the land where I live—northern Vermont—and the shape and seasons of it comfort me. I also love the relationship I have built with it, over the most-of-my-lifetime I've been here, learning the worn contours of old mountains and the feel of the stony soil and the sounds of the birds and the growth of the plants and the way they all fit together. I know how to see this place and while I certainly don't know everything there is to know, and figuring out how to move forward in loving relationship to this land as a descendant of settlers will take more than any one of our lifetimes, I understand being here, in my bones, on a level I don't experience in other places. The only place/feature I miss, being here, is a rocky coastline, dark and sharp and blustery and stinging, which has always had a dear place in my heart—but it is at least not too far away

TFF: If you were going to edit an anthology, what genre and theme would you go for?

TM: My dream anthology is a conversation of disabled poets. I wrote about this in an edition of my newsletter (https://tinyletter.com/tobymacnutt/letters/letter-the-second-winter-stories-crafts-foods) last winter in more detail, but it would be structured as a sort of round-robin of responsa, where the poets themselves choose which pieces resonate together, and talk about the relationships they see between them. Every time I get to engage with the work of other disabled poets, something will stand out about the work that I don't see elsewhere, but that resonates with something I wrote, or something another disabled poet wrote, which then ripples to connect to another, and so on—whether it's the way we talk about touch, or sight, or stone, or queerness, or rituals, or shapeshifting, or who knows what else. I want to hear how we value and understand our work in the context of us (even though we are certainly not a homogenous group! the differences are worth discussing too) rather than in nondisabled context, or beyond even narrow-scope themed calls where a lone editor makes all the choices. It would be a complicated project to facilitate (and I very clearly could not do it alone), but how delicious.


Sometimes people walk into my woods. Mostly they walk out again.

I didn’t.

This one has not either.

Reminder: You can comment on any of the writing or art in this issue at http://press.futurefire.net/2023/04/new-issue-202365.html.

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