Hey! I'm Katie. I live in Philadelphia, which is where I’m from. I work at a linguistics research lab and as a writer and editor. My last name is German and my family pronounces it hayglee. That’s not quite how a German person would pronounce it, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I have been publishing my writing in one form or another since I was a teenager, and over the years the subjects that have interested me the most include: clothing and identity, obsolete and castoff objects, the pearls of wisdom to be found within pop culture artifacts, feminism, material culture, graffiti, cities, zines, and books. I studied linguistics in college (at the oldest modern linguistics department in the U.S.!) and I'm still very interested in the thing some people think makes us human. Language, that is. I happen to think that treating other living creatures with kindness is what makes us human, but that rules out some people, doesn't it? (I have to amend this because I now realize that humans are not the only animals capable of empathy. What is it that makes us human, then? Art, I guess. Or jokes. I don’t know, this might be a pointless question.)
My personal and critical essays have been published in many publications, including the Utne Reader, Bitch Media, Adbusters, The Comics Journal, Philadelphia Magazine, The Millions, Rain Taxi, Miami Herald, and Minneapolis Star-Tribune. For ten years I was a regular contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer as a book critic, and for one of those years I wrote a column for the Inquirer's Sunday magazine called DigitaLit, for which I looked at the places where traditional storytelling and new technologies intersect. My work has been included in a few anthologies, too, including Fanzines by Teal Triggs, My Red Couch And Other Stories on Seeking a Feminist Faith, and The Alternative Media Handbook. I write poetry sometimes, too, and in 2013 my poem "Kaiho (A Definition)" was published as a Poems-For-All book. I’m also a longtime zine maker, and my etsy shop thelalatheory has been one of the top-selling shops in the website’s zines category for several years.
My work has been featured or reviewed in philly.com, the BBC, Library Journal, the literary magazine apt, New York Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Philadelphia Gay News, the Japanese-language culture website HEAPS, and TIME Magazine. You can listen to interviews with me on a couple of lovely podcasts, too: The Purrrcast, which is about cats and the people who love them, and Collecting Culture, which is about objects and the people who love them. I’ve read from my work at Ladyfest Philly, the Radar Reading Series, the Portland Book Festival, the NY Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1, on the public radio station WXPN, and in many wonderful DIY spaces.
In 2010 the generous people at Anchor Archive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, hosted me as a zine writer in residence. While I was there I weathered a hurricane and worked on writing that would become my first book. That book, a memoir called White Elephants, was published by Microcosm Publishing in 2012. My second one, a collection of essays about language called Slip of the Tongue, came out in 2014. Cats I've Known, an illustrated collection of stories about cats, came out in late 2017. Currently my friend Nadine Schneider and I are working on a book based on our zine, The Kytchyn Witche Guide to Natural Living, to be published in 2020.
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About the name
I've seen it explained and attributed in different ways, but here's what I know about "the la-la theory." During the 19th century, scientists and philosophers were interested in figuring out the origins of language. Some of their theories were pretty fanciful and had silly names. The pooh-pooh theory, for instance, suggested that human speech came from the instinctive sounds early people made out of frustration and anger. The la-la theory put forth that language was borne of the human need to express music, poetry, and love. Both Darwin and a Danish linguist named Otto Jespersen thought that emotion inspired music, which they believed could have been the predecessor to language. Jespersen wrote, "[Love] inspired many of the first songs, and through them was instrumental in bringing about human language." I read about this in some old linguistics textbook and I liked it so much, it inspired me to start a zine about language. I published the first issue of The La-La Theory in 2005, and even though I don't put it out as often or as enthusiastically as I once did, the name is forever intertwined with the way I think of myself and my writing.