Lindsay Wong’s debut memoir The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family(Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018) was shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, selected for the 2019 edition of Canada Reads (where it was defended by fashion personality Joe Zee), longlisted for the Leacock Medal for humor, and awarded the Hubert Evans Nonfiction Prize. Wong holds a BFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia and an MFA in literary nonfiction from Columbia University. Her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in Apogee Journal, No Tokens, Ricepaper, and The Fiddlehead, and she has earned residencies from The Studios of Key West, Caldera Arts, and the Historic Joy Kogawa House, to name a few.
In this interview, long-time friends Marni Berger and Lindsay Wong span Portland, Maine and Vancouver, British Columbia via the beauty of the internet (as they have for the better part of a decade). They cover topics from sleeping on a mattress beside your grandmother during Hurricane Sandy to visiting your mother’s haunted playground in Hong Kong; and from avoiding self-promotion on social media to coming of age while writing a memoir.
“I Hope I’m Not a Moth”: Lindsay Wong on Coming of Age Through Memoir
Richard Michelson is a poet and children’s book author who has written sixteen children’s books and three books of poetry—More Money than God, Battles & Lullabies, and Tap Dancing for Relatives—as well as two fine press collaborations with the artist Leonard Baskin. Michelson’s poetry has been published in many anthologies, including The Norton Introduction to Poetry, and has appeared in The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, Parnassus, and Issue No. 09 of The Common. He has served two terms as Poet Laureate of Northampton Massachusetts and in 2009 he received both a Sydney Taylor Gold and Silver Medal from the Association of Jewish Librarians, becoming the only author so honored in AJL’s 47-year history. Most recently, Michelson was awarded the 2016 Poetry Fellowship by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
This Frightening and Beautiful World: An Interview with Richard Michelson
Rowan Ricardo Phillips was born and raised in New York City and is a graduate of Swarthmore College and Brown University, where he earned his doctorate in English Literature. He is the author of two books of poems, Heaven and The Ground: Poems, as well as a book of essays, When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness, and a book of translations of Salvador Espriu’s Catalan collection of short stories, Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth. Rowan is the winner of a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 PEN/Osterweil Prize for Poetry, a 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award, and the 2013 GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry. In 2015 he made the National Book Awards Longlist for Poetry. He has taught at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Stony Brook, and he is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. He lives in both Barcelona and New York City.
Phillips and Berger discussed the stenography of poetry and the “beautiful challenge” of geography as “fate.”
Pressure Makes Diamonds: an Interview with Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Judith Frank is the author of the novel, Crybaby Butch, and a professor of English at Amherst College. She received a B.A. from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a Ph.D. in English literature and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Cornell. She has been the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts, and support from both Yaddo and MacDowell. Marni and Judith spoke online about Judy’s new novel, All I Love and Know, and what it means to write about violence in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Writing and Violence: An Interview with Judith Frank
For the month of August we are revisiting some of our favorite content from the past year. Publication of new work will resume on September 1.
A.L. Kennedy was born in Dundee, Scotland. She is the author of 15 books: six novels, six short story collections, and three works of nonfiction. She is a fellow of both theRoyal Society of Arts and the Royal Society of Literature. She writes for publications in the UK and overseas and has a blog with The Guardian Online. In addition to author, she is a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV, and film, and a standup comedian. Her All The Rage—a collection of short stories—was published by Little A Books in spring 2014. Marni Berger and A.L. spoke about the culture of humor, constructing the landscapes of characters’ minds, and what it means to “write to please.”
August Reads: If You Open a Window and Make Love to the World: An Interview with A.L. Kennedy
Jacquelyn Pope is the author of the poetry collection Watermark (Marsh Hawk Press, 2005). Her next book, Hungerpots—translations of the Dutch poet Hester Knibbe—is due out in October from Eyewear Publishing in the UK. Jacquelyn is the recipient of a 2015 National Endowment of the Arts Translation Fellowship and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
View from Up High: An Interview with Jacquelyn Pope
Sarah Smarsh has reported on social justice, the environment, culture, and class for Harper’s, The Huffington Post,Guernica, The Pitch, Aeon,and others. She holds an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University, as well as degrees in journalism and English from the University of Kansas, and has taught at Washburn University, Columbia, and elsewhere. A fellow of the Center for Kansas Studies, earlier in her career she wrote about her home state for everything from airline magazines to pop-history paperback series. Her essay “Death of the Farm Family” appears in Issue 08 of The Common. Marni Berger and Smarsh discussed the privilege of rootedness in America and what it means to be “often from” a place.
Often from Kansas: A Conversation with Sarah Smarsh on the Privilege of Rootedness in Midwestern America
Valerie Duff is the author of the poetry collection To the New World. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Prague Revue, Ploughshares, Blackbox Manifold, Poetry Northeast, AGNI,Gulf Coast, and Issue 07 of The Common. She is poetry editor of SalamanderMagazine. Marni Berger and Valerie Duff spoke long distance this summer about Mexico City, Virginia, Boston, and writing poetry as if you’re sorting through a dream world.
Sorting through a Dream World: An Interview with Valerie Duff
David Breslin is a Curator and Associate Director of the Research and Academic Program at the Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts, and a writer of nonfiction on art, feminism and language-based practices. His essay, “Plugs: Five Thoughts on Cady Noland’s Stocks,” was published in Issue No. 07 of The Common. Marni Berger spoke with Breslin at a coffee shop off Washington Square Park in New York City, where they discussed the American art world, how to handle painful subjects, and finding the ideal writing space.
Filling Up the Creative Glass: A Conversation with David Breslin