Currents, an Interview Series with Brian Alan Ellis (Episode 74: Matthew Vollmer)

Matthew Vollmer

MATTHEW VOLLMER is the author of two short-story collections—Future Missionaries of America and Gateway to Paradise—as well as three collections of essays—inscriptions for headstonesPermanent Exhibit, and This World Is Not Your Home: Essays, Stories, & Reports. He was the editor of A Book of Uncommon Prayer, which collects invocations from over 60 acclaimed and emerging authors, and served as co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts. His work has appeared in venues such as Paris Review, Glimmer TrainPloughsharesTin HouseOxford American, The SunThe Pushcart Prize anthology, and Best American Essays.  He teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech, where he is a Professor of English. His next book, All of Us Together in the End, will be published by Hub City Press in 2023.

My current favorite thing to read is: Jon Lindsey’s Body High, which lives up to its insanely great cover. Am working slowly through François-René de Chateaubriand’s Memoirs Beyond the Grave. Dope.

My current favorite thing to watch is: this guy on TikTok who has a very realistic Yoda puppet and who can impersonate the Jedi Master perfectly, especially his scream (though did Yoda ever scream in any episode of the Star Wars franchise? Idk). There’s one video where the guy splices in that scene from A Star Is Born where Bradley Cooper’s character rolls down the window and says, “Hey,” and then Yoda says, “Who me?” and then Cooper says, “I just wanted to get another look at ya,” and then Yoda goes ape shit (“Another look at me you want?!”) and then farts and laughs hysterically. I like watching that. Love baking tutorials, like how to ice cookies, and those videos of people cutting into things that look like folded pants or tire irons but are actually cakes. 

My current favorite thing to listen to is: Jon Hopkins’s Music for Psychedelic Therapy.

 My current state of mind is: energized. I’m typing this during Hybrid Forms class. I threw up a bunch of prompts on the board and we’re having a “writing only” day. Kids seem into it.

My current chemical romance involves: Maker’s Mark and THC gummies.

My current words of wisdom are: “Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” (But that ain’t me. It’s Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching.)

My current mode of transportation is: on foot. I live close enough to where I teach at Virginia Tech that I walk every day. And often I listen to a podcast two of my friends make called BOOYAH 90s NOW. “It’s the podcast where we watch old stuff and talk about how it makes us feel” is the tagline. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. 

My current favorite fast food item is: Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Though because Blacksburg has no Popeyes, my favorite go-to is: bean burrito, no onions, extra cheese, extra red sauce + ten packs of hot sauce.

My current workout routine consists of: halfheartedly cycling from Blacksburg to Christiansburg on a rails-to-trail greenway called the Huckleberry Trail. 

My current regrettable decision involves: overindulging. 

My current hopes and dreams are: to lose 15 pounds. My face is too fat. Also find a new video game to play. And watching Everything Everywhere All the Time at the local theater.

My current projects include: promoting my latest book, This World Is Not Your Home: Essays, Stories, & Reports. Playing Grand Theft Auto V. Finishing edits on All of Us Together in the End, a book-length essay that Hub City will publish in April of 2023 about these inexplicable lights that began making appearances in the woods surrounding my father’s house three months after my mother died. The book is also about Seventh-day Adventism, ghosts, COVID, and my father’s reconnection to a friend from his past. 


Matthew Vollmer is online at

Brian Alan Ellis runs House of Vlad Press, and is the author of several books, including Sad Laughter (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2018) and Hobbies You Enjoy (serialized daily on Instagram: @hobbiesyouenjoy). His writing has appeared at Juked, Hobart, Fanzine, Monkeybicycle, Electric Literature, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, X-R-A-Y, Heavy Feather Review, and Yes Poetry, among other places. He lives in Florida.

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