Like it or not, MFAs, as programs that aim at the professionalization of writing, have always been the vehicle of cultural imperialism; the propensity to remove “ideology” from writing in order to improve the latter is thus basic hypocrisy.
These days living and working as a writer in Istanbul requires a bravery that most American writers have never imagined they would have to muster, a bravery far beyond what it already takes to put pen to paper.
One of the hardest things to learn about writing poems is how to break lines—where to enjamb or full-stop, where to leave sentences dangling into surprise, where to make one thing appear like it will be another.
A few weeks after the release of his memoir, Sherman Alexie cancelled the second half of his national book tour. “I have been rebreaking my heart night after night,” he explained. Writing about pain had become a process of inflicting it on himself.
Learning from artists, how to write, to draw, to see, taught me of bounty. Their insistence, their calling, always, attention to the smallest things, taught me the most precious kind of survival: the abiding joy and knowledge that there is always something.
This storytelling imperative has become a cliché in advertising. From cars to throw pillows to the credit cards you buy them with, a wide range of consumer products now claims that it will help you to tell and/or become a part of your “unique story.”
Books, even books writers didn’t know they were writing, are born from discipline, by people who took their ideas seriously, even before they amounted to anything.
More than ever, I seem to imbibe the news, allow it to become a part of me, choke my obsessive subconscious like invasive kudzu. No wonder then that I feel tempted to write about these events and their consequences.
Every good ghost story has a volta, a point at which the narrative dramatically changes, and reality turns toward paranormal chaos. At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself.
When Performer Magazine prompted me to write about being a Black female music writer, I was apprehensive at first. But when that essay was published, I realized how inherently political my writing is—and how important it was for it to stay that way.