Thanks to Esther Cohen, poet, book doctor, and badass organizer for inviting me to participate in this blog tour. Esther and I have been labor-organizer/worker-arts friends for many years. Lately we are poet friends and drinking friends and friends who frequent hat sample sales, in addition to our ongoing political commitments.
Esther answered these questions last week, and next week three fabulous writers — Lia Eastep, Kelly Martineau, and Lori Tucker-Sullivan will offer their answers. And then three more, and so on.
So, the questions:
1. What am I working on?
I’m writing a bunch of poems. I’ve got a creative nonfiction book idea, inspired in no small part by Molly Peacock’s beautiful biography-memoir mashup The Paper Garden. And, lately, I’ve also been typing odes to Brooklyn and my expanding love and appreciation of this County of Kings.
I’m always working on food and drink, on the page, on the plate, in the glass. Currently I’m stacking up layer cakes, simmering down many a bone broth, and stirring Scotch cocktails.
2. How does my work differ from other of its genre?
Mostly, I write straight-up CNF. I like to make unexpected connections, engineer unusual juxtapositions and fit in food.
3. Why do I write about what I do?
I love to eat, I like to cook and bake, and I really like to theorize. Food and drink offer unending sort details, meanings, and metaphoric possibilities.
I write about politics and social movements because we’re all buffeted by forces bigger than those in our individual lives. They’re forces we can only partially shape. To the extent we can exert control, and bend the arc, we do it by acting in concert — I believe that’s true on the page and in reality. Besides, race, politics, gender — it’s all there. Leaving it out is distasteful.
In that vein, I’m a woman, and a feminist, and I am drawn to writing about women’s work — the invisible emotional labor, the unpaid domestic labor, the unappreciated cultural labor, not to mention the seventy-seven-cents on the dollar workplace labor… all the kinds of ways in which women’s work keeps everything together. And, as a worker-justice woman, I’m always fascinated by what falls apart when we strike.
4. How does my writing process work?
I like to work out my ideas aloud, in community with others. I like to glean others’ smarts, to incorporate new influences, to generate better ideas in collaboration.
When I’m working on something really narrative-driven, I find reading political theory offers a respite from the characters knocking around in my brain. When, as now, I’m writing a bunch of poetry, I like to read relevant historical nonfiction and lots of plot-driven novels.
Just now, my work is spreading like dandelions across a suburban yard, swelling and sprouting as grains and beans after an overnight soak on the counter. This new work is the result of a long, fallow, wet period, and now, I’m happily tapping the sugars and seeing new stuff pop up all over. I’m soaking and tossing salad-like combinations of blossoms and roots, seeds and stems, bitter and bright. Stay tuned.
Speaking of tunes — up next are Lia, Lori, and Kelly, all of whom I met through the MFA program at Spalding University. All are amazing women in their own right, and write especially brilliantly about music, among many other subjects.
Lia Eastep makes her living as a writer-for-hire, mostly educational content and retail copywriting. Her essays have been published in the Santa Clara Review, the Louisville Review, TinType Review and the Columbus Dispatch. Her short plays and sketch comedy have appeared on various blackboxes and basement theaters across her hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
Lia’s 365 Facebook posts about her vinyl collection made me listen to more cool music last year than in any year previous, and possibly all previous years combined.
Lori Tucker-Sullivan also has killer music taste and serious writing chops. At her blog, a Widow’s Apprenticeship, she spins the every day — and sometimes meaning — of her life after the death of her spouse into luminescent prose. Lori’s work has appeared in The Cancer Poetry Project, Now & Then Magazine, and The Sun. Lori lives with her son and daughter in Ann Arbor while plotting her return to Motor City.
Kelly Martineau is a knitter, mother, and essayist extraordinaire. She writes memoir and essays that explore creativity, time, and the fiber of family. Her work has appeared in Quiddity, Front Porch, and Barely South Review. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Seattle, Washington.
Don’t miss their process musings, their expertly crafted prose and poetry, and — if you should be so lucky — a chance to sip fine Kentucky bourbon in their company.