Happy Friday! We’re back again with another Changeling interview… this time with poet Yamen O’Donnell.
Emmy: Hello there! Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Yamen: I’m Yamen O’Donnell, I live in Oregon, USA. I’m a fractal artist, storyteller and poet, releasing work under the art name Complicated Reality.
Emmy: What inspired your poem, “Surf Walker”?
Yamen: It’s a poem about how a goal can simply be an excuse to enjoy the journey. Like Thomas, I’m more interested in finding out what comes next than finding out what happens in the end.
Emmy: How long have you been creating art?
Yamen: I grew up participating in creativity competitions, but I didn’t really consider myself an artist until I started working with fractals in 2018.
Emmy: Where is your favourite place to create?
Yamen: My home studio. I put a lot into making it a comfortable space to work, and I like the company of my pets. There’s a great view out the window, and fresh air anytime I need a break.
Emmy: What were you passionate about when you were younger?
Yamen: Computers and video games. Tetris was my first form of meditation. Games offered places where rules were enforced consistently, with concrete ways to measure growth.
Emmy: Who was your favourite writer when you were younger?
Yamen: Oh, it’s so hard to choose. Stanislaw Lem sits at a perfect intersection of playful wordplay, humorous stories, and thought-provoking sci-fi that I love.
Emmy: What do you enjoy about writing poetry?
Yamen: It’s the puzzle of it. How do I fit this thought into this many rhyming syllables? Then, how can I make that set of syllables fun in and of themselves? When I solve all the puzzle layers, I have a fun poem to share.
Emmy: What about creating in general—what do you like best about that?
Yamen: It’s a chance to dive into the specifics of emotion, to create something that expresses a particular feeling with more precision than any simple word could contain. To show that the nuance of the world is appreciated.
Emmy: Do you think being neurodivergent impacts your creativity in any way?
Yamen: Certainly. With aphantasia, the idea of creating an image from my mind has never made sense, and this was a big obstacle for a long time. So many artists talk about their inner vision, I assumed the lack of one meant I couldn’t be an artist. But once I found the mediums that suited my abstracted, parametric style of thinking, I reconnected with a deep creative desire, and I’m a much more whole person now.
Emmy: What would you say to encourage any young, aspiring creatives reading this?
Yamen: Don’t wait to be popular before you love your own work. If you do, you won’t. Chasing your curiosity will get you farther than chasing your audience.
Changeling is Yamen’s first magazine publication. But he has also self-published a collection of his own poetry, titled “Laser Fractal Space Magic”, available through his website, complicatedreality.com
Listen to Yamen read his poem “Surf Walker” below.
Changeling Annual 2023 will be published in Spring — keep an eye out for updates by following our Instagram.