I have a new piece up at Tiny Molecules called “Greening,” which is the first in a series of pieces investigating and exploring my lifetime obsession with the Statue of Liberty. A huge thanks to Kelsey Ipsen at Tiny Molecules for believing in it and being wonderful to work with!
Now here she is again, definitive as a door. She wants to turn into metal, or me, and all I can do is green all the time. And so I green to her: When were you something no one expected you to be. Which is to say I greened to myself.
When I was writing and revising this piece, the wanting and the yearning was so present in me. Perhaps this is a result of the loneliness embodied by the pandemic and the tragedies of 2020. Or perhaps it is something else. I remember making a list to myself of “what I wanted” from this piece — a list for the reader as much as for the writer. The list went on: I want this piece to transport the reader to Liberty Island, neck craned looking up. I want immediacy, obsession, and awe to be in every line. I want this piece to be tactile even without the characters touching each other. I want to write with an honor, a reverence for both the statue as statue and the statue as woman. I want the pleasure and the nerves. I want to write a queer ode to a statue who might be the most living and mysterious thing I’ve ever known. I want to write something that inherently has secrets and layers and things unsaid. I want this piece to be about the self unknown, the discovering self, the self that is striving to become something they’ve always longed to be.
I think about the millions of people over centuries who have seen the Statue of Liberty as a paragon of freedom. Who have found salvation from this woman. And how I too have found life and wonder and hope in her. I recognize that I’m not coming to her as a refugee or an immigrant. I’m coming to her from some other place. I’m looking for a different kind of answer from her. “Greening,” to me, is a search, a fantasy, an alchemy. Or simply put, a love letter.
I hope this piece allows you to green, too, if you need it.
In the collection, the mouths of the three main speakers struggle to articulate a kinder world still unfathomable to them, in efforts to forge a path there. Articulation is conjuring. I believe it’s the realest magic our bodies are capable of.
I recently talked with poet Jihyun Yun about her prize-winning debut poetry collection, Some are Always Hungry; the mouth as metaphor; a few favorite Korean fairy tales; and the ways in which language connects food, women, and violence. You can read the full interview here on The Rumpus.
I do find it very troubling in itself that it’s easier to imagine the female body as food, as something hunted, as prey, but I think it’s also speaking to a truth of how language, too, can be a knife, and how it is often brandished.
Find out more about Jihyun Yun on jihyunyun.com. Jihyun’s book Some are Always Hungry (September 2020) is available from University of Nebraska Press.
I am constantly being interrupted by my characters, major and minor. I believe in the benevolence of interruptions. It is my way of communing with something beyond me, to let myself be thrown off my intended path, to be thrown off knowing. It’s a sort of disappointment, I’m literally being disappointed from my place of knowing. For me, in art as in life, I am very curious about the creative power of these metaphorical and literal disappointments.
I recently talked with novelist Yelena Moskovich about her newest novel, Virtuoso; conformity; rebellion; post-soviet diaspora; the textures of ideology; writing queer desire; the trauma of flight; and much more. You can read the full interview here on MQR Online.
Our cosmic song, as we have it now, is very much off-key. But there is also beauty and meaning in discord. My current contribution is mainly to listen. My next verse is one I give from my open ears.
You can follow Yelena Moskovich on Twitter and Instagram. Yelena’s book Virtuoso (January 2020) is available from Two Dollar Radio.
The first line came to me, and it hung out in my head like a buzzing fly…It felt like a door was opening, and all I had to do was step through it and follow the path beyond.
I recently talked with novelist Sarah Rose Etter about her debut novel, The Book of X; tragic characters; volcanic landscapes; how to ground readers in surrealism; and more. You can read the full interview here in CRAFT Literary.
Explore, have fun, be an artist on the page. Don’t limit yourself to writing what you’ve been taught. Write what is in your guts. Go into the mud.
Find out more about Sarah Rose Etter at sarahroseetter.com. Sarah’s book The Book of X (July 2019) is available from Two Dollar Radio.
If you’re looking for ways to “fix” something that isn’t “broken,” then you’re really doomed to go on searching for answers that aren’t there. And really what needs adjusting are the kinds of questions we ask. There’s a parallel, of course, to how we think about neurodiversity—so much of the obsession is with “fixing” something. But shouldn’t we be in the business of listening instead?”
I recently talked with poet Oliver de la Paz, author of the outstanding poetry collection,The Boy in the Labyrinth, about mythic metaphors, the problem with story problems, empathy in the digital era, and the role of poetry in the endless exploration of ourselves. You can read the full interview here in The Common.
There’s something beautiful in the attempt to reach beyond ourselves, yes? Beautiful but also a kind of reaching into the void. You’re never sure the vehicle your tenor is riding on will get you where you need to go.
Find out more about Oliver de la Paz at oliverdelapaz.com. Oliver’s book The Boy in the Labyrinth (July 2019) is available from University of Akron Press.
The book is very much about the power of the unsaid, too. Things don’t have to be explicitly stated for you to know them to be true.
I recently talked with novelist Sion Dayson about her debut novel, As a River; writing characters full of contradictions, how to face emotionally-charged scenes, deciding when to reveal secrets & more! You can read the full interview here in The Adroit Journal.
“Writing has always worked best for me when I don’t prod too much at my creative impulses and let my curiosity guide me.”
Find out more about Sion Dayson at siondayson.com. Sion’s book As a River (October 2019) is available from Jaded Ibis Press.
“Change isn’t a big grand gesture we make. It’s those little decisions we make all day long.”
I recently talked with novelist Rene Denfeld about her newest novel, The Butterfly Girl; everyday rebirths; the frequent misconceptions that society has about homelessness; and the ways in which our imaginations can save us. You can read the full interview here in The Rumpus.
“The greatest healing comes in proximity to others, when we invest in our own vulnerability and care, and when the love we show others can become a mirror to our own soul.”
Two years ago, I interviewed Rene about her novel, The Child Finder, and now our conversations have become a sort of a tradition. I will support Rene’s writing for as long as we live. She brings such magic, empathy, and sublime knowledge to everything she does, and our world is better for it.
Find out more about Rene Denfeld at renedenfeld.com. Rene’s book The Butterfly Girl (October 2019) is available from Harper Books.
I’m not sure you can really know a person—or a character—without knowing what they believe.
I recently talked with my former professor and Hunger Mountain editor, Miciah Bay Gault, about her debut novel, Goodnight Stranger; loneliness; the supernatural; the role of belief in living and writing; and our failure to belong in specific “categories.” You can read the full interview here in Electric Literature.
I believe we (writers) should chase our fears and delights, looking for what’s true about us.
Find out more about Miciah Bay Gault at miciahbaygault.com. Miciah’s book Goodnight Stranger (July 2019) is available from Park Row Books.
We have the choice to either give in to inevitability or to scream something back into the void.
I recently talked with poet Brandon Amico about many of the central themes in his poetry collection, Disappearing, Inc.: social media, obsessions, politicized violence, climate change, and the role of poets & writers today. You can read the full interview here in The Adroit Journal.
“We create, in part, to fill the gaps that have opened in our lives, or that will open one day, because everything is on a limited basis.”
Find out more about Brandon Amico at brandonamico.com. Brandon’s book Disappearing, Inc. (March 2019) is available from Gold Wake Press. Brandon is also a freelance copywriter who helps other authors with their book marketing. See his freelance website here.
(Thank you to Joyce Carol Oates for this wonderfully spooky title.)
Friends, I am so sorry I have neglected this blog in the last few months. I’m still getting settled in with my new routines here in…New York City!
Yep, in the middle of July, I packed my belongings (aka my books) up in four cardboard boxes and moved to the Big Apple. Was this an impulse move? Yes and no. My dear friend and former classmate at VCFA got a terrific job in the city, and I decided to move down with her. I’m still interviewing for positions in the publishing world right now, but am doing tons of freelance editing and writing in the meantime, which ultimately allows me the flexibility to explore this wild and wonderful corner of earth and drink up all that it has to offer.
Of course, it’s a major shift from the quiet pastoral plaidness of Montpelier, and is more of a loud pavemented madness, but I do so love it here. I don’t mind the crowds so much (though I do stay as far away from Times Square as physically possible). One of my favorite things is to stand on a street corner and witness the many languages, faces, and human beings of this world, all congregating in one spot. On the whole, I find people here incredibly friendly (especially if they are a dog owner). The subways are not as overwhelming anymore. I do miss the nature and the visceral autumn-ness of Vermont, and most of all, the friends that I left behind there. But, I am finding my way in this new place and so happy for this experience. More New York-specific posts coming soon.
I do have a new plan for this blog, which means that it will be updated much more regularly! Lucky you!
It is October, the best month of the year. Hope you are all well, my ghosts and my stars. <3