Imagine Otherwise: April Lynn James on Whimsical Poetry as a Healing Tool

Imagine Otherwise: April Lynn James on Whimsical Poetry as a Healing Tool

September 21, 2016

April Lynn James wearing a dapper black tux with blue lapels and black top hat with pink sash and large hat pins


April Lynn James is a writer, performer and designer of whimsical things. Her research interests include 18th-century music, baroque dance, and operas composed by women.

Madison Hatta is her alter ego who writes and declaims whimsical sonnets on such things as time, career, family dysFUNction, and the importance of drinking tea. Together, they have published a book called Madison Hatta’s Book of Unreasonable Rhymes and together host the show Twinkle Bat Variations.

As April and Madison explain, scholars and Hatters have something in common: an ability to become obsessed with an idea and take it all the way to its logical (or illogical) conclusion. As she explains in this episode, an obsession with the Mad Hatter lead April out of depression and down the rabbit hole. One obsession lead to another, as April met her alter ego, and found the keys that unlocked the door to the garden where her deep well of joy lay buried beneath piles of family drama.

Using playful poetry, precise prose, and tea, April and Madison’s work answers the question, “Why should this seemingly sensible African-American woman, and holder of a PhD from Harvard, need to follow Alice down the rabbit hole?”

April Lynn James wearing a dapper black tux with blue lapels and black top hat with pink sash and large hat pins. Text reads: The truer I am to what moves me, the truer my art is and the more I can help other people see that they too can create. They too are moved by this inspiring power.

People and projects discussed

About Imagine Otherwise

Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at Imagine Otherwise is hosted by Cathy Hannabach and produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.

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