As Indiana Review‘s Associate Editor and a fiction writer in Indiana University’s MFA program in Creative Writing, Katie Moulton has a lot on her plate. Luckily, she has proven herself more than worthy of the job. Even though one of my favorite things to do is fake-fire her on a daily basis, I do not know what I’d do without her insight, enthusiasm, deejay skills, and knack for writing literary journal-themed parodies of popular songs (more about that later). Whether she’s investigating grammar’s nitty-gritty nuances, answering emails with great aplomb, or figuring out other editorial-esque things, Katie Moulton makes the Indiana Review office a smarter, sassier, and generally wonderful place to be.
Vievee Francis is one of those poets who is often described as ‘visionary.’ Her poetry is deep and rich and so strong, and as a fiction writer I feel pretty inadequate trying to describe it. I was amazed to discover, when I sat down and spoke with Vievee in Bloomington (when she was in town for the 2nd Annual Blue Light Reading this past spring), that her voice in conversation is as complex, thoughtful, and passionate as it is in her poetry. You can hear the audio of our interview on The Bluecast page (forthcoming!), or read it below.
Vievee Francis: My name is Vievee Francis, I’m a poet, I live in the city of Hamtrammack, which is a small town—2.2 square miles—in Michigan, completely surrounded by the city of Detroit.
Rachel Lyon: Your poems have a distinct relationship to both city and a rural or country sort of landscape. Can you talk about landscape in your poetry a little?
VF: Landscape plays a strong role in my poetry. I’m from Texas originally—from West Texas, but I’ve also lived in East Texas off and on through my early childhood—but then, I’ve lived in cities as well—Atlanta, Detroit. And I think the play, back and forth, between the rustic and the urban, as well as what is Southwestern or Southern and what is Northern, those are always being juxtaposed in my work.
From her gut-wrenching short stories to her incisive humor pieces to her no-bullshit cultural criticism, Roxane Gay is a writer who writes in many forms, all brilliantly. I was lucky to get to sit down with her when she came to Bloomington for IR‘s 2nd Annual Blue Light Reading. You can hear our long-form interview on The Bluecast (forthcoming!), or read it below.
Roxane Gay: I’m going to take a picture. I take pictures of everything, so don’t be alarmed.
My name is Roxane Gay. I’m a writer, and an assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University.
Rachel Lyon: Can you describe your work a little bit?
RG: I’m a Libra, so I like a little bit of everything, so I write a little bit of everything. So I’m always just trying to write things that will move people in some form or fashion, whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction.
It’s important to have a distinctive hairstyle if you want to be remembered by future generations. One of literary history’s more memorable hairstyles is that of Mark Twain, whose wisdom and social acumen were most likely contained in those impressively bushy locks. As Twain grew more successful, his moustache grew accordingly, finally all but eclipsing his mouth in its enthusiastic (but perhaps somewhat misguided) attempt to fill his face. The archetypical wise old man indeed. And who better, then, to remind us to flaunt our own individuality? Though Twain might have found some of the last century’s hairstyles confusing, he was definitely a fan of the moral superiority of the thinking individual, as opposed to the often idiotic and cruel morality of society as a whole. So, in the words of Huck Finn, “I ain’t a-going to tell, and I ain’t a-going back there, anyways. So, now, le’s know all about it” (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Chapter 8). Mark Twain reminds us that if we are ourselves, and if these selves know profoundly what is good, we too can have impressive facial hair when we are old.
2012 Indiana Review ½ K Winner
“Michigan Central Station Has Been Closed Since 1988”
“Co-lo-ny Col-lapse Dis-or-der”
Staten Island, NY
When asked to say a few words of the winning piece, contest judge Michael Martone writes:
I love trains, and I also adore ruins. I admire this piece for its content of irresistible decay and how its form replicates the unstoppable rot. This is a story that consumes itself, composts as it confounds. It is rich with stuff, with detail, with nominative junk. It names names, chock-a-block, only to have it all melt and fade away. There is no better drama in such a condensed and pressured space. To have a lump of coal transformed into diamond and then, beyond that rock, into the elemental idea of crystalline and holy loss.
A huge congratulations to our winner and runners-up, and many thanks to all who helped make our 2012 1/2K Prize Contest a success!