An interview with Daniel Saldaña París
In an effort to explore the relationship between cannabis and creativity, we are conducting interviews with artists to discover why they like to use cannabis when they work.
Daniel Saldaña París is a poet and novelist born and currently living (again) in Mexico City. His debut novel Among Strange Victims, a picaresque set in Mexico, was released to critical success in 2016 and has since been translated to English and French. His writing has been featured in BOMB!, Guernica, Electric Literature, The Guardian and more. Last year he was named one of the best Latin American writers under 40 by the Hay Festival.
Can you explain how cannabis influences your work?
D:I like to smoke a little during the early stages of a project, especially when I write personal essays or poetry. It helps me to free my imagination and approach the work with a certain degree of playfulness. I generally take loose notes while stoned, and those notes may or may not end up being part of the final version of the text, but they are always necessary to get there.
Do you feel you can achieve things artistically you could not have without the use of cannabis?
D:I don't know about that. I feel that it helps me to block out some of the anxiety that surrounds the creative process—expectations and such. But I'm sure there are other ways of doing so.
Why do you think cannabis is so popular amongst artists?
D:I believe it's a manageable drug—you can be high and still be relatively accurate and lucid, which is a good thing if you want to use it in a creative activity.
If you are to use cannabis creatively, do you have important rituals, timing, habits of consumption or other "rules" for yourself?
D:The only rule I have is that I don't work directly on the final version of a piece when I smoke. I want to be able to discard what I did while being high if I want to. I sometimes record voice memos instead of writing. There is a spontaneity of the voice that can get lost if I'm in front of the computer. Also, I do my best not to get distracted online, which happens a lot—I've ended up reading 30 Wikipedia articles instead of working after smoking, for example. When I'm polishing the prose and tweaking the language of a text. I need to be 100% sober for that. Plus, I can only do it before 11 am.
Do you think cannabis makes it easier to access "ideas"?
D:Not necessarily. I think it makes it easier to access a certain type of idea—if that makes any sense.
Thanks Daniel for participating in our first interview! Be sure to check out our Ceci n'est pas un bong series featuring bongs by High Art painted by exciting emergent and established Montreal artists.