The Sunday before last, I sat down to breakfast and to read the paper. The thing that caught my attention was not violence or politics or celebrity, or any of the usual stuff that you expect from a front page, but a headline that read “Elena Ferrante: ‘I believe that books, once written, have no need of their authors.” The article was an excerpt from Frantumaglia, a new collection of Ferrante’s letters and interviews.
[What follows is a copy of the letter I sent to my writing program today.] Dear MFAW people, I’m guessing that, for the majority of you, your first desire to write was a way to express an emotion that you were having difficulty feeling or understanding. Or it might have been an early attempt to […]
Goddard’s The Writer in the World has posted an adaptation of my Spring 2016 commencement address for the Vermont graduates. Here’s an excerpt: As the child of immigrants, my parents decided that they needed to send me to an after school program to learn my ancestral language. So every Wednesday, a little grey van picked […]
Earth: A backyard that is really a liquor store parking lot, a grey North London sky, a small child in her winter coat, swinging herself on a metal swing squeezed between two concrete walls, wishing she could fly; wishing that she had English parents because English people believed in pets. But instead of English parents, she got herself a shoebox and filled it with ants, and gave these tiny, shiny insects a few leaves to nibble. She pierced breathing holes in the lid of the box and tucked it into the corner of a crumbling air-raid shelter in her backyard parking lot. She went out every day to replenish the leaves and to spend time with the ants. She never tired of speaking to the ants even though they did not return the favor; they also did not sit in her lap or curl up at the foot of her bed. Instead, they traversed the cell-like cardboard until she felt badly that she had incarcerated them. So she returned them to the only bit of the Earth she had ever known—the wilds of North London streets.
Praised by the New York Times for his “dazzling, tactile grasp of the world,” award-winning poet, Goddard alumnus (MFA ’80), and former faculty member Mark Doty read from his work at Goddard’s Haybarn Theater on January 6, 2016. (Presented by Goddard’s MFA in Creative Writing Program’s Visiting Writers Series). The next morning, I had the opportunity to interview […]
Goddard’s blog, The Writer in the World, interviewed me regarding Rhapsody of the Naked Immigrants. Here’s an excerpt: Q: What was the impetus for this book? The impetus of the book was to try to document working-class immigrant voices. I am the daughter of immigrants who then also immigrated. In my experience, working-class immigrants, on […]
Are all of our moments, even our most intimate moments, endlessly defined by global concerns? Some poets have been trying their best to answer this question. Some poets have traveled much farther than other poets in their attempts. Some have arrived at this question a lot earlier than the others and so they have been […]
What will it take? Anger will become king, but its reign won’t last long, it will only last long enough for the anger to dissipate into action. And all those things you were told—those wise words, those messages from beyond, those coincidences, those horoscopes—all those things that you knew were true, that you did your […]
Is it ever possible to be truly connected to another being? There is a fear that exists inside most of us, and it is this fear that keeps us on our islands. We are right to feel afraid. When we were first introduced to the world, it shocked us how nonchalant it was. Even small […]
Does a flower feel that it’s gone too far? * I have lived a long time and therefore I have witnessed the blooming of many flowers. In fact, I have even lived across the road from a botanical garden, with a wide variety of flowers as neighbors. What I can tell you is that they […]