In this interview, VIRGINIA KONCHAN talks with NATHAN McCLAIN about his second full-length collection, Previously Owned. Touching on process and craft, literary influence, racial justice, and faith, this rich conversation celebrates the range of McClain’s poetry and the sense of history and place in his work.
Finding One’s Way Through Bewilderment: Virginia Konchan interviews Nathan McClain
—You Are Now Interacting as Yourself
—The Subject Line
—An Empire in the Ground
You Are Now Interacting As Yourself By TINA CANE
Sheila had IHOP delivered to her apartment in El Alto, NY
on January 6th so she could kick back self-proclaimed terrorist
that she is and eat pancakes while watching white supremacists
storm the Capital on T.V. a coup
The basement crawl space is tinged with dread. And a little bit of pride too. Because both my late husband John and my father—and even the firefighter I had to call when it flooded—hated the idea of having to go in. The dimly lit space is only eighteen inches high, a tight spot for a grown man, and full of spider webs. The floor is dirt; overhead is crumbled fiberglass insulation. You climb a ladder and go through a small rough hole in the house’s fieldstone foundation, then crawl about seven feet to reach the valve that supplies water to the outside faucet. This needs to be turned on in spring and off in late fall so the pipes don’t freeze and burst. To get out, you have to crawl backwards and reach a foot through the rough hole, searching blindly for the top step of the ladder. That last six inches is hell on the knees, all sharp rock and crumbling mortar.
Though I’d heard Arinze Ifeakandu read from his debut collection, God’s Children Are Little Broken Things, at its launch at Greenlight Books in Brooklyn in June 2022, I was unprepared for the force and distinctiveness of his writing when I opened the book. Soft-voiced and diffident, Ifeakandu seemed overshadowed that night by his effusive interviewer, Brandon Taylor, who hailed his arrival as a new gay Nigerian writer and fellow graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop on the literary scene. The stories in Ifeakandu’s collection merit reading for their subtle explorations of the nuances and hazards of living as a gay person in Nigeria, where open homosexuality is subject to federal criminal penalties and punishable by stoning in some states.
In Arisa White’s lyrical memoir, Who’s Your Daddy, she writes of her father’s absence throughout her coming-of-age in tender, genre-bending poems. July Westhale and Arisa White, former teaching colleagues and Bay Area community, approached this interview in an epistolary way, discussing form, family, voice, and taking up space on the page.
Permission to Dream Forth: An Interview with Arisa White
Tina Cane’s Year of the Murder Hornet was published in spring of 2022 by Veliz Books. In this interview, Tina discusses her new collection with Matt Miller. Threaded through by grit and lyrical beauty, the book weaves survival, strength, and hope out of this pitched moment of American politics, the Coronavirus pandemic, and popular culture.
My mother and I are on a chlorinated river that’s somehow simultaneously the Amazon, Congo, and Nile, floating languidly so we don’t run into the boat in front of us and “don’t scare the wildlife”: the kind of joke the Disney guide, in his safari hat and over-pocketed explorer outfit, keeps making.
We called him Ísjaki. Few knew his real name. I certainly didn’t when I was charged with being his caretaker during his first visit to New York. Ísjaki meant “iceberg” in Iceland, where this man came from.