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10 Questions for Colin Fleming

Date: 08/29/2016
Amal Zaman and Danielle Brown

"It was the day after Christmas, and watching Danny Splighter skate for the first time in my life was like the holiday was happening all over again.from "One Way Zebra" which appears in our Summer 2016 Issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

When I was in third grade in Mansfield, Massachusetts, I had this teacher named Ms. Ferris. In first grade they thought I was developmentally challenged, especially when it came to reading. I knew that wasn’t the case. I guess I kind of rebelled in second grade, because I was always held back in for recess. I’d read. Then I get to third grade and Ms. Ferris, who everyone said was super strict and scary, would have us write short stories...

10 Questions for Kathleen Kelley

Date: 08/23/2016
Amal Zaman and Danielle Brown

"When my mother asked me 
what in the world I wanted, we were
driving across the Sagamore Bridge.

I could feel the vibration.
I was ten. My mother 
had never raised her voice before."

from "The Light, the Bridge, and the Fish" which appears in our Summer 2016 Issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

I did not give myself over to the writing of poetry until I was well into middle-age.  When I was raising children, the only writing I did was in a journal.  After they left the nest, but before I began writing poetry seriously, I completed the draft of a novel about friendship as well as a book on mindfulness and cancer.


10 Questions for Elias Leake Quinn

Date: 08/16/2016
Amal Zaman and Danielle Brown

“The tarthky was a beast from a different era, from back when the dunes were just a thin sheet spread over a second sea, the clumps of dune grasses bobbing like Lilliputian schooners. An adventurer with the right equipment could pierce the sand, dive through the floating grasses, and swim beneath their tangled roots. The shaft light drove down from the surface toward ancient monsters with wide, blind eyes.” —from “Driftwood,” which appears in the Summer 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tells us about one of the first pieces you wrote

That’s kind of a tough question. Writing has always been a part of the thought process for me. I guess you’d have to think of my life in a bunch of phases—the middle-school wannabe-writer phase, the self-indulgent college sophomore, the post-college existential crisis. Each phase had its own portfolio, and...

A Gluttonous War

Date: 08/10/2016
Erri De Luca

Aleppo, Syria from the WSJ (May 4, 2016).
Photo: Karam Al-Masri/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Some twenty years ago, during the war in Bosnia, I walked into cities made somber by hunger. We unloaded packages for families found on the trip before: we distributed them directly, without intermediaries, storage sites, or stockpiles. I saw hunger in the shame of the elderly: every mouthful they swallowed was one less for a grandchild, a woman, someone sick. Today I experience the hunger of Aleppo from a distance and I ask myself why I’m not there, along with the Bosnians from twenty years ago. I give myself plenty of excuses.

Syria is Asia—you can’t get there with vans going around the edge of the Adriatic.

No organization working for...

10 Questions for Erin Fortenberry

Date: 08/08/2016
Danielle Brown and Amal Zaman

“Oren loves the supply closet. He loves to go in and close the door behind him, to breathe deep the Christmas scent of adhesive, to run his fingers over the open boxes of Onyx micro-tips, G-2 refill cylinders, and unsharpened No. 2 pencils. He loves to choose these things and, finally, to steal.” — from “Dollmaker, Inventory, Child.” which appears in our Summer 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

When I was really young, I used to write tiny plays and make my parents watch me perform them with puppets made out of lunch bags. I don’t remember what they were about but I do remember that I passed around an equally tiny Hello Kitty “comment” book at the end for my parents to review my “work.”

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?

H. G....

Not Just Another Day

Date: 08/03/2016
Jim Hicks

It is not, of course, every day in the life of an editor that an unpublished work arrives on one’s desk (or, these days, on one’s screen) that—from its opening lines to its last—is already irrefutable, both necessary and sufficient. Though I’ve been at this job for (do you remember that scene from the Herzog film?) “a little long while” now, it has in fact happened, well, precisely once. That day was the day I first came across Tabish Khair’s new novel, Just Another Jihadi Jane. A good day.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Review published a long excerpt from this novel as the sixth number in its e-book series, Working Titles. That was a good day as well.

Even after a mention of only the book’s title, you will understand that in this case...

10 Questions for Hayan Charara

Date: 08/01/2016
Danielle Brown and Amal Zaman

"When you were in her womb, your mother
used and sold herself, and after you were pulled out

she didn't stop. For a minute or more
you did not breathe; and from the drugs she took

(now in you) your skinny arms and legs shook. . ."
—from Bad Things which appears in the Summer 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

I vaguely remember the first poem I wrote—I was six years old. The poem was about a dream I’d had, I know that, and I tried mimicking Shakespeare’s sonnets because that’s what I thought a poem should be—we had the complete works of Shakespeare in our house, and I remember that the look of the sonnets struck me as unusual and worthwhile. I’m still taken by the look of a poem. Sometimes, the typographical more than anything else dictates for me when I break a line or...

Qandeel Baloch and the Importance of Loud Women

Date: 07/18/2016
Amal Zaman

        Qandeel called out to me some months ago from her bedroom - through the screen of my phone, playfully offering herself to a cricketer in an uploaded video, pouting heavily without any pretense or attempt at veiling the display of her sexuality. We were all instantly captivated, compelled to sway to this woman’s song. In a society where even the mention of human sexuality is hushed out of conversation she was undeniably present. She was unapologetic, unafraid, and so very loud.

        Growing up as a woman in Pakistan teaches you erasure. How best to silently slip into the cracks so you aren’t seen, heard, and no delicate sensibilities are upset. If you are effaced, you cannot offend. This is why Qandeel was so striking: she was constantly flooding the Internet with images of herself, videos, audio files. Dancing as supplication for cricket...

10 Questions for Pete Duval

Date: 07/18/2016
Danielle Brown and Amal Zaman

"The alarming nonchalance of her gesticulation is fascinating. She’s in control, but more than this. She radiates. In her Jordache jeans and home-sewn camiseta, the white earbud wires of an MP3 player draped over her shoulder, she seems outside time looking in. This is serenity. The more he looked, the more radiant she became. He found it difficult to put a label to what he felt—other than shame, because he wondered whether such thinking might be the ghost of colonialism talking shit in his head." —from Strange Mercies, our May 2016 Working Title. Read an excerpt or purchase on Weightless,...

10 Questions for Laura Cesarco Eglin

Date: 07/15/2016
Danielle Brown and Amal Zaman

hurting like stakes
or licking so sweet

How will you take me?"

—from Da morte. Odes mínimas which appears in the Summer 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 2).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

I started out by journaling, and then the entries turned into prose poems, even though I didn't really realize at the time. When I was a teenager I started to write poems in verse.

What writer(s) or work(s) have influenced the way you write now?

My first influences were the Uruguayan Idea Vilariño, the Argentinean Alejandra Pizarnik, and the Peruvian César Vallejo. Then came Emily Dickinson, Sharon Olds, William Carlos Williams, Claudia Rankine, and the Brazilian Ana Cristina Cesar. Influences change with time. Actually, I think I am influenced by everything I read...