ANDERS CARLSON-WEE‘s Disease of Kings showcases a mastery of tone and voice, an uncanny ability to talk to you (reader) like a friend and confidant, while telling you the hardest truths— truths that might actually change your life, truths the world doesn’t necessarily want you to know. These poems are urgent without being demanding, confessional without being sensational, and indirectly lead us to reconsider the nuances of relationships, how our lives are structured, and ultimately the big questions of what matters most. Disease of Kings tells a fierce, uncompromising narrative, yet also manages to be deeply vulnerable and do away with pretense and artifice, embracing a primal need to “Lay It Bare,” as one of the poems is aptly titled.
JOY BAGLIO sat down with Anders to discuss Disease of Kings, touching on his impulse toward narrative, crafting vivid imagery, honing voice, and more.
Lay It Bare: Joy Baglio Interviews Anders Carlson-Wee
Photos L-R courtesy of Manuel Muñoz and Lindsay France/Cornell University.
Acclaimed writers MANUEL MUÑOZ and HELENA MARÍA VIRAMONTES met almost three decades ago: Muñoz was obtaining his MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and Viramontes was his mentor. Many novels and story collections later, the pair are still close friends. They sat down recently to talk, for the first time, specifically about their roots in farmwork. They discussed the poor working conditions and hardships, but also the ways that farmworkers find love and joy in their families. As writers, they connected over the desire to honor the wholeness and complexity of these lives in their work.
Beyond Their Labor: Manuel Muñoz and Helena María Viramontes on Writing the Lives of Farmworkers
DUR e AZIZ AMNA is the author of American Fever, a coming-of-age story replete with warmth, poeticism, and wit. It is a story about home and homeland and refuses to settle for easy definitions of either. The Guardian calls American Fever “a subversive debut” and the Los Angeles Review of Books calls it “a quiet triumph.” Over a series of emails, FARAH ALI and Dur e discussed how Dur e avoided sketching reductive pictures of Pakistan and America, illness as a vehicle for revealing uncomfortable truths, and the ways certain ideas are shattered after leaving home.
Moving Beyond the Trappings of Multilingualism: Farah Ali interviews Dur e Aziz Amna
JANE SATTERFIELD and ROSANNA YOUNG OH—poets who met at the 2023 Poetry by the Sea Global conference in Madison, CT—connected via email between Baltimore and New York City, and reflected on the power of inherited narratives, their shared fandom of Jane Eyre, sustaining creativity, and Rosanna’s newest collection, The Corrected Version.
The Magnetic Pull of Place: An Interview with Rosanna Young Oh
Haitian-born poet ENZO SILON SURIN gives “voice to experiences that take place in what he calls broken spaces.” These are the spaces he writes about, writes for, and writes from. In his latest poetry collection, American Scapegoat, following the success of his last book, When My Body Was A Clinched Fist, Surin illuminates our opaque relationship with the truest history of Black America. His poems invoke an urgent conversation, which is why the word “interview” here feels unmalleable; Enzo and DAPHNE STRASSMANN had a vulnerable exchange about the inheritance and meaning of a broken space.
Interrogating the Narrative of Injustice: Daphne Santana Strassmann interviews Enzo Silon Surin
ROBIN McLEAN met JIM SHEPARD in a fiction workshop in Italy in 2013, two years after she’d finished her MFA in fiction, two years after she’d sworn off all workshops forever. But she’d read a few of Jim’s stories by then and was hooked. She’s worked with Jim on many stories since, has followed him and Karen Shepard around. Many do. Robin generally shows up with a pile of questions, often about agency or “rate of revelation” or “subliminal coordinates.” If you don’t know what those are, sign up for a workshop with Jim Shepard.
Here are some inquiries asked and answered on a spring pilgrimage to Western Mass in 2022, a sunny morning on a snowy hilltop, an icon of an old tape deck set on RECORD between cups of coffee, three dogs hunting crumbs around the table, then basking in the sun as the ideas flowed.
Looking for the Weirdness: An Interview with Jim Shepard
NICHOLAS GOODLY’s debut full-length poetry collection, Black Swim was published by Copper Canyon Press in September 2022. JAAMIL OLAWALE KOSOKO and Nicholas recently connected over Zoom and talked about interdisciplinary art and writing, the essential nature of rest, and prioritizing creative expression.
Intentional Offerings: jaamil olawale kosoko interviews Nicholas Goodly
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
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
Viet Thanh Nguyen visited Amherst College in February 2022 in the joint roles of Presidential Scholar and LitFest headliner. In his live conversation with The Common’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Acker, he deployed humor and refreshing honesty to discuss his path to publishing his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Sympathizer and its best-selling sequel The Committed. The conversation touched on the complexities of Vietnamese diasporic identity as well as his desire to expand the world of literature to encompass critical thought, breaking through the traditional literary bubble to allow for politics, history, and more. This interview is a collaboration between The Common and Amherst College’s LitFest and is an edited and condensed version of the live conversation.
Belonging Is a Complicated Thing: An Interview with Viet Thanh Nguyen