The amazing Tonya Cherie Hegamin invited me to take part in the Blog Tour, in which a writer answers 4 questions and then passes the torch to other writers. Tonya's latest book Willow just came out to some rave reviews. Read her entry for the Blog Tour here.
Here’s my contribution:
1) What are you working on? I'm currently finishing up my second collection of poems and my first novel, both of which share a common thread of migrations as a way of life, rather than as a process to achieve a way of life. The natural world, dissidence, borders, exoduses and adaptation (rather than assimilation) are all on the radar. In the poetry collection, the shark becomes a sort of totem, a means to exit and return; much of the history of the world, I believe, is held in the shark. The novel focuses on a man from Fuzhou and an Israeli women, both at the end of their rope, whom find a second wind after meeting in New York City.
2) How does your work differ from others’ work in the same genre? I think because I come from a somewhat disaporic life, having lived in many landscapes, compounded with two very different backgrounds-- my father comes from a religious Jewish community and my mother is Mexican, and converted from Catholicism to Judaism-- that I bear a lot of voices. And these voices are not trying to find any common thread, or harmony. And I'm not going to write the "tortilla" poem to appear Mexican to a U.S. audience. This next collection is about all sorts of bloodsports, tracking for sign, anthropophagies. It's not about the sacred, but the sacred enemies, and consuming them into order to metamorphose into something spiritually ravenous. I mean I identify with Cain, so there you go.
3) Why do you write what you do? Because I read. Because I read and want to join something larger. Because as an outsider to the communities I inherited through blood, an outsider looking in, I can actually enter through word and create a new space within the borders. Because within the borders there are always possibilities.
4) How does your writing process work? I'm always unpacking, in all senses of the word. It starts there, from some departure, and I try to map it back to the returning, if there is one. I write in the morning, the day, at night. At my desk, in bed (where I'm writing this now), at Cafe Lucid in Woodside as habit-- I walk some 25 blocks to get there because it was first cafe I went to after I returned to NYC from Jerusalem. The ideas come in pieces; sometimes they come out like one of Murakami's perfect ears. If not, there is revision until l feel it's right and can't subtract one more word. Working on one piece is rare. I'm always moving forward-- it's in my blood-- and I always come back to these words from the poet Edmond Jabes:
"Where are you?"
"In what I say."
"What is your truth?"
"What lacerates me."
"And your salvation?"
"Forgetting what I said."
The last line, of course, for Jabes and for myself is the golden promise that Jews have yet to reach, and as a poet, I hope I never reach it. All of those lines got me through a life in Jerusalem, a life I left. I left because of those first two lines. Because, Jewish or not, that is indeed where I am.
Next week, check out Wendy Babiak, Rae Bryant Amy Sayre and Robert Yune.
Wendy Babiak (Conspiracy of Leaves, Plain View Press), serves as co-editor for Poets for Living Waters and writes poetry and fiction with a focus on our relationships with each other and the natural world. A certified Permaculture designer, she hopes to help undermine the extractive economy by making it irrelevant.
Rae Bryant is the author of the short story collection, The Indefinite State of Imaginary Morals (Patasola Press, 2011). Her stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in print and online at The Paris Review, The Missouri Review, McSweeney’s and Huffington Post.
Robert Yune's fiction has appeared in Green Mountains Review, the Kenyon Review, and Los Angeles Review; his debut novel EIGHTY DAYS OF SUNLIGHT is forthcoming July 2014 from Thought Catalog Books. In 2009, Yune received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and in 2012, he was a finalist for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and the Flannery O'Connor Award.