If you’re in Pittsburgh this Wednesday, June 28, I’ll be reading with Paola Corso and Nancy Krygowski for The Bridge Series, which was organized by local literary hero Kris Collins. Most of the proceeds from the reading go to a local humanitarian or social justice organization each month.
Proceeds for this one will benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Literary Council. Thanks to Jen Ashburn for inviting me, and hope to see you there!
Nicole Bartley interviewed me for Tethered by Letters! We talk about publishing (in another life, I was fiction editor of The Fourth River), being a teacher/writer, and burning sugarcane fields in Hawaii.
Thanks again to Ken Salzer, who, through the glitchy miracle of technology, transformed me into a beam of light and shared me with his students yesterday.
I’m teaching an intro to lit course right now, and I’ve dedicated a fair amount of class time to showing video interviews with authors and discussing the author’s life and inspirations. I think it’s important to see authors as human, not as dusty relics from the distant past.
While it’s probably true that you should never meet your heroes (and I’m not saying that I’m anyone’s hero), it’s dangerous to think of authors as remote, priestlike oracles. Writers are smart, tenacious people, but most of all, they’re people who are bold enough to take part in a conversation with culture, with other writers living and dead, with the distant past and future. It’s easier to join that conversation if you view authors as people who procrastinate and eat Cool Ranch Doritos while fretting about money. It’s much harder if you view authors as mythic giants. (That said, who wouldn’t like to be a mythic giant?)
It’s a pleasantly strange experience speaking to any group of people as an author. As someone who was once an undergrad at Pitt, it’s surreal to think that students in the same classrooms are reading my novel and writing papers on it (especially after they’ve just read Mysteries of Pittsburgh and other books that were on my shelves as a teenager). Ken’s students were really engaged and asked some great questions; I’d hope I did them justice.
As an aspiring writer in grad school, it was something of an epiphany to meet writers like George Saunders, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Dan Chaon. Sitting there, watching them eat and talk about 80s music, it started to dawn on me that writing wasn’t some kind of magic superpower bestowed by the gods. It was something that took hard work and practice, but it was certainly something within the realm of possibility.
The album is online now…whoever took these photos had the unenviable job of making me look good, but they somehow pulled it off.
This was hands-down one of the best readings I’ve been part of. There was a great energy, a variety of readers from different journals and genres, and a wonderful crowd. Special thanks to Dan and the folks at Sakura Review for inviting me.
Special thanks to Ali Luke for reaching out and interviewing me today for Writer’s Huddle. When we set up the interview, I forgot that it’s actually much later in the UK, so I appreciate her staying up to talk with me about flashbacks. (And speaking of flashbacks, it was an interesting exercise in time travel to read through my first novel and some old stories as I looked for examples.) So thank you, too, Ali, for that trip down memory lane.
I’ll let you all know when it’s up on the WH website.
Flattered to be quoted in this article about Pittsburgh’s literary community representin’ at #AWP17, along with Hattie Fletcher, Terrance Hayes, and Beth Gilstrap. Thanks to Eric Boyd for reaching out.
Hi everyone. I’m doing two events at the 2017 AWP Conference. Hope to see you there:
1. Sakura Review reading (with District Lit and The Boiler Journal), hosted by The Inner Loop.
“We’re doing a joint reading with District Lit and The Boiler Journal, hosted by The Inner Loop. (The Inner Loop folks hold a monthly reading series in DC).”
When: Thursday, February 9 at 7:30pm
Where: The Pub & The People, 1648 North Capitol St NW, Washington, DC 20002
2. Great Jones Street @ AWP party
“GJS makes its AWP debut in Washington DC. Whether you’re a Great Jones writer or just want to learn about the Netflix of fiction, join us for cocktails and poutine.”
When: Thursday, February 9 at 9 PM – 11 PM
Where: A&D Bar, 1314 9th St NW, Washington, DC 20001