“A Good Story Haunts You”: Exploring the Intersection of Art and Activism with Luis J. Rodriguez
Good stories aren’t just beginning, middle, and ending, and entertaining. That’s fine, those are of value. But a good story haunts you for a while. There’s something in there you want to keep thinking about and maybe go back to that story again. That’s what I think a good writer should do: keep haunting the reader for a while, about what you’re saying, about how or why, so that the reader says, “I can’t just let it go.”
Play and the Spirit of Resistance in Writing: A Conversation with Jamel Brinkley
I like that you can hold an entire short story in your mind, more or less. There may be bits and pieces that you miss, but it’s nice to be able to hold a little narrative in your mind, in your hands.
The Poetics of Witchcraft: An Interview with Faylita Hicks
I want women from all backgrounds to find power in who they are and define how they fit into the world. They are allowed to be upset and angry over the things that have happened to them. HoodWitch is about righteous anger and about taking back the things women have lost.
Reviving the Beauty of a Nightmare: An Interview with Carmen Maria Machado
But it’s okay to wait, to try to find the right language and to find the right word. Because it isn’t enough to just transfer the pain of your body to the page: it has to be interesting, it has to beautiful, it has to do something for the audience or else it’s just secondhand pain.
Empathy, Pain, and Power in Literature: A Conversation with Viet Thanh Nguyen
The dominant normative tendency is to say literature is unmarked by many things, including politics, and that is the power of ideology in American society, and in American literature, and in American MFA programs, as far as I can tell. And it leaves, in the United States, those marked as international or minority writers in the position of constantly harping on the political. It’s a mutually reinforcing cycle; we’re going to keep on talking about it because we’re in that contradiction.
With Our Mouths Open: An Interview with Sarah Gambito on Food and Lyrical Sweetness
I feel like we’re in such tumultuous times right now, and we need to uphold the linked roles of artists and audience—so how do we activate each equally, right? I’m less interested in the how the artist performs, where there’s this sort of passivity in the audience—not that that’s not a lovely thing, it’s a lovely thing. But I’m interested in how you get the audience to act towards, in some ways, what it is you’re doing.
The Blues of Grace: An Interview with Lauren K. Alleyne
You know the “poetry noise” people make—it’s like, “Oh” [released breath]. I feel like that’s the sound of the poem connecting; that’s the sound that these words have landed somewhere, and you’ve received them. That exchange, or possibility of exchange, between a poet and poem or a reader and listener—I think that’s what grace is made of sometimes.
In Pursuit of Pursuit: An Interview with Karen Olsson
I think with novel writing or narrative book writing in general, you have to have a journeyman approach. You cannot expect to be inspired through three hundred pages of prose. My attitude is just to go to work in the morning, clock in, and sit down there, because often it’s when you’re not inspired and you make yourself sit there that something happens you didn’t think was going to happen.