Arguments Worth Having

Art = Absurdity = Provocation = Contemplation = Wisdom = Love

Interviews/Conversations

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Poe Ballantine:  The SunFebruary, 2014 “Poe Ballantine calls himself a “whiskey-drinking, floor-mopping, gourmet-cooking, wildly prolific writer with a penchant for social commentary.” For nearly three decades he was a vagabond, roaming North America, working in kitchens and factories, living cheaply, and spending carefully so he could maximize his writing time. His goal was a literary career as a novelist (he’s written two novels), but he’s quick to admit that his nonfiction accounts of his travels have turned out to be his best work. Born in Colorado in 1955, Ballantine grew up in San Diego, California. He had his first adventure on the road at the age of fourteen…

Eula Biss:  Hayden’s Ferry Review. Spring, 2011.  Eula Biss’s latest book, Notes from No Man’s Land, winner of the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, melds essay, memoir, and journalism to examine race in America. The essays in Notes are polemical without being judgmental or evasive. Rather than look for moral placebos, they seek solutions and action. Previously published in The Believer, Gulf Coast, Harper’s,The North American Review,The Best American Nonrequired Reading and The Best Creative Nonfiction, along with a book of lyric prose, The Balloonists, Eula Biss has established herself as a voice that will increase in importance well into the 21st century. Recently we conversed about her work and the role of morality in art, Horace Engdahl on American writers and the Nobel Prize, and whether an apology can be redemptive in the face of atrocity…”

Andie Trosper DeRoux:  Transfascination   Ever since I was young I knew was different. I identified with girls, in being around them…I grew up in a very conservative family, so I had to bury myself to survive and so when I finally went to college I was able to explore. My sophomore year I met a friend, a woman, and she was interested in me, well, I got involved with a gentleman who was friends with my friend, we all got together, and it felt very natural. I never thought of myself as bisexual. I thought of myself as more try-sexual. Namely, I’ll try anything once, and if it feels good and I like it, then I’ll do it (laughs)…

SaadiaSaadia Haq:  A Conversation with a Pakistani Feminist Saadia Haq was born in Karachi and has worked in development and media with Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan, Internews Pakistan, FM radio, peace-building and lobbying the UN on the rights of women and religious minorities. She has traveled and worked in Asia, Africa, and Europe…

Tim Jones-Yelvington: Give Money to the Arts? @ The Rumpus The other day I received an email from Tim Jones-Yelvington soliciting funds for an art project. I questioned some of the “perks” for donors, which included an “XXXMas CD,” or having Tim kiss a victim of my choice for $100, etc. I emailed Tim, and a spirited exchange ensued about the merits of grassroots fundraising. We decided to take our conversation public, as this discussion carries importance within a broader community…

Patrick Madden:  The Rumpus Mini-Interview:  Patrick Madden teaches writing at Brigham Young University and is the author of the essay collection Quotidiana. His essays frequently appear in literary magazines and have been featured in The Best Creative Nonfiction and The Best American Spiritual Writing anthologies. He pays close attention to the details of the every day, infusing humor and self-deprecation, combining observations of life with pop culture and literary traditions, to mine the extraordinary.

Gregory Martin:  May’s Selection Seattle Gay Lesbian Book Club Gregory Martin’s Stories for Boys (Hawthorne Books) follows the trauma his family suffered after his father revealed a promiscuous gay lifestyle. In societies awakening from the time when homosexuality has been regarded as taboo or worse, his book will be included as one in a succession of catalysts provoking homosexual men to shed the duplicity and masquerade of presenting themselves outwardly as heterosexual…

Frank Meeink:  Frank Meeink The Nervous Breakdown. January, 2011. On December 8, 1984, south of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, the FBI surrounded Robert Mathews’ Greenbank farm house. Mathews had founded The Order, a white supremacist group connected to twelve armed robberies that netted over four million dollars, a wounding of a police officer, and the murder of Denver talk show host Alan Berg…Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead: Frank Meeink’s Story

Ander Monson:  Ander Monson The Quarterly Conversation. May, 2010. Ander Monson is the author of several books, including the Graywolf Nonfiction Prize winner Neck Deep and Other Predicaments: Essays. He’s written a novel, Other Electricities with accompanying website, and a volume of poetry, Vacationland. Not only a writer, he is also editor of the online literary magazine DIAGRAM, a bizarre site displaying the possibilities of the digital page. His next work, Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir

Peter Mountford:  Interview: Peter Mountford A Young Man’s Guide to Late CapitalismThe Millions. Spring, 2011 Herman Melville wrote, “To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many have tried it.” The realm of great literature covers death, love, religion, war, sex, and politics, but rarely economics. There are novels that tackle money and greed, but usually not from an insider’s perspective. Peter Mountford hopes to change that with his debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism

Ali A. Rizvi: The Sun Magazine – Forthcoming

David Shields:   The Rumpus, February, 2010. David Shields, author of three novels and seven works of nonfiction, attempts to demolish the foundations of literature in his latest, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. His target: the culture. He argues that there has been a dreadful trend in fiction, and not just genre fiction and the mass-market best seller, but within the entire literary spectrum. Stories using too much detail, too much description, stories within stories within stories deviating and dwelling in obscure tangents and conventional formula…

Jervey Tervalon:  Interview:  Los Angeles Review of Books. JERVEY TERVALON, LA Times bestselling author of Understand This (1994) and Dead Above Ground (2000), has taken on an icon in his latest, Monster’s Chef (Amistad: 224 pp., $24.99). William Gibson, chef and ex-con drug addict, begins working for Lamont “Monster” Stiles, a pop music star who bleaches his skin white, has a “Lair” populated by young boys, his mute wife Rita, and Thug the gay bodyguard, intimidating anyone who wants to delve into the specifics. Take Michael Jackson’s anxiety and hypersensitivity, insert a little bit of the sinister pathologies of Jim Jones and Phil Spector, and the result is one chilling character to mirror the attention given to the celebrity and pop culture of our current age..

Elissa Washuta:  Superstition Review. April, 2016. In Elissa Washuta’s “Faster than Your Heart Can Beat,” an essay from My Body Is a Book of Rules, she positions twenty-four dysfunctional experiences in reverse chronological order and concludes:

“Still, every time, I say no, you say yes, and to you, it is nothing but a difference of opinion.”

This difference of opinion concerns what is rape; provocative moments like these fill her memoir-of-essays, combining aesthetics and substance to navigate difficult terrain. Her narratives juxtapose mental health, coming-of-age, Native American identity, and Catholic upbringing in the context of sexual assault. My Body earned finalist recognition for the Washington State Book Award in nonfiction, eventually won by Charles D’ambrosio’s Loitering

Washuta, a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a teacher of writing at the American Institute of Indian Art (IAIA), lives near my home in the Pacific Northwest. We met at local bookshops and coffee shops; the following conversation the result:

Lidia Yuknavitch: Southeast Review. February, 2012. Suffering inspires creation, and this quandary burdens the artist. Can superior art come from happiness? Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, The Chronology of Water, captures life within this landscape, childhood wrought with misery, the obligatory search for escape that leads to reckless hedonism in youth and beyond, and a habitual relapse toward self-destruction. Her accounts are intimate and confessional, a tribute to the ghosts of literature, including Ken Kesey and Kathy Acker, as her uninhibited aesthetic smashes any adherence to the confines of craft. Yet ultimately, hers is a book of solace and joy…

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Written by Caleb Powell

September 24, 2014 at 1:42 pm

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