I think of the Sephardic Jewish tradition where a texture of fabric, bit of gold filigree, painted twig, strike of the tambourine, song lyric or dance step is never alone, but connected to the whole. The luminous glow in each individual element has to do with its sense of belonging. Idiosyncrasy finds its dignity and respect through recognition in a lifeworld of people and nature.
I recently spoke with writer and translator Jessica Sequeira about her electric and incandescent collection of linked flash narratives, A Luminous History of the Palm, Sephardic Jewish traditions, palm genuses, the flexibility of the human essence, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.
A point of view can change so much based on where one is, the language one is speaking, the culture, and the resources that are available. To translate between realities perhaps gives a sense of personality not as essence, but as something more akin to Tarot cards, where the image matters less than the way it’s interpreted and how it finds itself in the larger system of relations.
Find out more about Jessica Sequeira on www.jessicasequeira.com. Jessica’s book A Luminous History of the Palm (April 2020) is available from Sublunary Editions.
I am always thinking about–how do we defamiliarize our world? How do we return a childlike wonder to everything around us? How do we regain an innocence, excitement, and enthusiasm that feels dragged out of us through the cynicism of adulthood?
I recently spoke with author Tucker Leighty-Phillips about his debut story collection, Maybe This Is What I Deserve, children’s games, rural life, poverty, Runescape, and more.You can read the full interview here at Tiny Molecules.
Intuition in storytelling is a strange thing. Sometimes it means making up words that “sound right.” Sometimes it means cutting out entire sections of prose and letting white space do the talking.
Find out more about Tucker Leighty-Phillips on tuckerlp.net. Tucker’s book Maybe This Is What I Deserve (June 2023) is forthcoming from Split/Lip Press.
This is really just an elaborate love letter. Which I guess is my definition of ars poetica. And naming it autobiographical … I mean, it isn’t. But it’s the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written, and I guess I want that label to reveal that.
I recently spoke with author Erin Stalcup about her newest novel, KEEN, performance, revolutions, gender, Tool, and more.You can read the full interview here at Heavy Feather Review.
I hope I’m not appropriating stories that aren’t mine. I am trying to imagine what it would be like to be someone other than myself. I’m always channeling the wisdom of my teacher and friend Robin Black who says no one can imagine her own life experiences that they haven’t had, but it’s worth it to try. I’m willing to be told I got it wrong.
Find out more about Erin Stalcup on erinstalcup.xyz. Erin’s book Keen (February 2022) is available from Gold Wake Press.
Art is a rich vehicle for critique. We’ve all been forced out of our everyday lives in a way that allows us to both create and consume art from a quasi-outsider perspective—maybe more objective, maybe more thoughtful about who we used to be, what the world used to be, and how we’ve all changed in the past couple of years. What do we miss? What do we never want to go back to? How were we surprised at how much we adapted to a particular aspect of lockdown? Who did we talk to? Who did we want to reach out to?
I recently spoke with author Sequoia Nagamatsu about his debut novel, How High We Go in the Dark, the role of art in an emergency, science fiction faves, and more.You can read the full interview here on The Rumpus.
While there have certainly been moments over the past year that may have temporarily diminished my faith in the human species, I think what gives me a sense of possibility are my students—young, smart people who legitimately care about the planet, are already doing so much for their communities, and are thinking intentionally about how their chosen disciplines might help provide for a better future in even small or unexpected ways.
Find out more about Sequoia Nagamatsu on sequoianagamatsu.com. Sequoia’s book How High We Go in the Dark (January 2022) is available from William Morrow.
“I think each of us speak multiple languages. Not necessarily whole different tongues like Russian and English, but we speak different glosses. I like to think of those as languages.”
I recently spoke with author Ian Ross Singleton about his own changing identity throughout the writing of Two Big Differences, as well as the many ways language and translation are transmitted and embodied throughout his debut novel.You can read the full interview here on Fiction Writers Review.
Humor really is the Odessan language. We talked about Isaac Babel, who is arguably the most quintessential Odessan writer (and you can’t make up a name like that, talking about the relationship to the Tower of Babel). So of course I had to have an epigraph from Isaac Babel, and it’s where the title comes from. The idea of “Two Big Differences”—that in itself is a joke. Odessa is so different, there’s two big differences.
Find out more about Ian Ross Singleton on singletonian.com. Ian’s book Two Big Differences (October 2021) is available from MGraphics.
An opposition to politicized forgetting is precisely the task of art. We are responsible, as artists, for documenting, witnessing, and remembering even those truths that are not in our political interest to recall…I believe we are called to recover whatever truths we have the knowledge and the desire to hunt down, those are the truths we are required (by some sacred unwritten universal law) to write down and preserve.
I recently talked with author Joanna Eleftheriou about her debut essay collection, This Way Back, how to engage in the dialectic of identity, confront the privilege of choosing an identity, and how writers prioritize discovery. You can read the full interview here on The Common Online.
We deserve to see ourselves in art. We deserve to see ourselves on TV. There is no greater anguish than the sense of not-existing that our absence in (popular) culture incurs.
Find out more about Joanna Eleftheriou on joannaeleftheriou.com. Joanna’s book This Way Back (September 2020) is available from West Virginia University Press.
I’m striving to approach my writing with renewed joy, to recognize that motherhood—in all of its messy, infuriating, exhilarating ups and downs—informs my writing like no other experience.
I recently talked with author Lara Ehrlich about her prize-winning debut story collection, Animal Wife, and the possibility, power, and resilience steeping within. You can read the full interview here on CRAFT.
That defiance against becoming the thing we are told we should become plays through the rest of the stories, in different forms. We’re told we should be mothers, and that we should devote our whole selves to motherhood. To me, the answer is not to refuse motherhood—it’s to choose for ourselves how we define motherhood. We’re told we should act like ladies. The answer is not to act like men, but to choose for ourselves what it means to be a woman. That is the true resistance.
Find out more about Lara Ehrlich on laraehrlich.com. Lara’s book Animal Wife (September 2020) is available from Red Hen Press.
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.