Deborah Interviews Debra—

Artist Admiration Series: Vol. 2, Issue 7

 (C) Kayla Pongrac

Deborah: Allow me to begin this interview by asking what inspired your new body of work.

Debra: The ladder outside my bedroom window has been growing exponentially. I hear it at night, crawling past my second-story window, scratching its chest against the brick walls of my apartment complex. So it was this ladder, mostly.

Deborah: I see. And how would you describe this ladder?

Debra: Oh, I think it’s just like everything else. I spend a lot of time contemplating how lovely it would be to cup it in my hands and then toss it down my throat like a piece of popcorn, you know, just so I can spend an entire afternoon painting it different colors.

Deborah: What color would you paint it?

Debra: Coloring Book Background, probably.

Deborah: White then, right?

Debra: No, more of a tan—a sad tan. And I’d mix that with the color of my dad’s initials tapping me on the shoulder.

Deborah: Is your dad still alive?

Debra: He tends to be.

Deborah: And what about your mom?

Debra: My mother reminds me of a kite that I once flew by my bedside.

Deborah: You once flew a kite by your bedside?

Debra: It was storming. All my windows were open. The strangest part about that night was the thunder—I could feel the thunder in my gums. It made my teeth vibrate and shift counter-clockwise.

Deborah: I think I want to go back to discussing this ladder. Did you mention that you own it?

Debra: I own everything I see, so I would be silly not to consider that ladder mine.

Deborah: What do you mean by “I own everything I see”?

Debra: Everything that gets put in my cup gets dissolved, and that is all. I really don’t like these questions. I thought you wanted to talk about my art?

Deborah: One critic recently compared your art to “cracking an egg on a trampoline made of seahorse intestines.”

Debra: How flattering. I don’t often read reviews because they make me seasick—all the black words floating atop the white pages, you know—but it sounds like this review could be worth two pills.

Deborah: Do you think that critics are generally helpful or hurtful? Oscar Wilde once said, “A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.”

Debra: “The critic has to educate the public; the artist has to educate the critic.” That’s something else that Oscar Wilde often says.

Deborah: Hmmm . . .

Debra: And here’s another: “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” I enjoy being talked about. I find it quite comforting.

Deborah: Do you consider yourself well-read?

Debra: No. I just know Oscar Wilde personally.

Deborah: I don’t see how that could possibly be true.

Debra: He comes over for tea on weekends.

Deborah: Comes over where?

Debra: To my apartment.

Deborah: And you two drink tea together?

Debra: Not together, but that is correct.

Deborah: Is he familiar with your ladder or your new body of work?

Debra: He knows nothing of the ladder, or the latter.

Deborah: Can you confirm his existence?

Debra: I thought you wanted to talk to me about my art? I don’t feel like we’re talking about my art.

Deborah: But we’ve learned a lot about you.

Debra: Who is “we”?

Deborah: Everyone reading this.

Debra: You mean all the nervous jellyfish?

Deborah: Perhaps we can try to re-schedule this interview at a more convenient time for you. I’m not quite convinced that I have your full attention today.

Debra: No. Just tell everybody that I like saltwater, too. That should be enough. Yes, that should plenty. Tell them that I like saltwater and that I will meet them all on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean at this time next year. I’ll have my ladder with me. We’re going to tour the country.

Deborah: Thank you. Good luck to you . . . and your ladder.

Debra: Please, allow the jellyfish to panic for a little longer. They have no hearts, bones, eyes, or brains. Someone needs to remind them of the benefits of keeping it that way.


Kayla Pongrac is an avid writer, reader, tea drinker, and vinyl record spinner. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in theNewerYorkSplit Lip MagazineOblongThe BohemythDUM DUM Zine, and Mixtape Methodology, among others. When she’s not writing creatively, she’s writing professionally—for two newspapers and a few magazines in her hometown of Johnstown, PA. To read more of Kayla’s work, visit or follow her on Twitter @KP_the_Promisee.