Tabs open on your screen right now:
My 24PearlSt class blog for “Start Small: What Writers Can Learn from Very Short Stories” // Joanna Walsh’s Guardian piece, “All the awards for younger writers amount to discrimination,” // Artifact Press’s ordering page for Cynthia Cruz’s new chapbook Notes on Losing // Alice James’s ordering page for Jennifer Chang’s new book, Some Say the Lark // Sally Wen Mao’s interview with Jane Wong, “Ghosts in the War Machine: Jane Wong’s Overpour.” @ AAWW // Memorious’s, “Contributor Spotlight Bonanza.” // Rachel Stone’s “The Trump-Era Boom in Erasure Poetry” @ New Republic // Amina Cain’s “Relaxing in Literature” @ The Believer Logger // Twitter // Minuteman Library Network // email
If you had to brag about yourself:
I’m an artist in the Ruth Asawa sense of the word. There is nothing special about me. I’m an ordinary person who can take ordinary things & make them special.
Your writer crush:
Any place in the world:
It’s a tie between Miyazaki’s Yokohama & Ice House Pond in West Tisbury, MA.
Potato/cauliflower dosas + chai – heavy on the cardamom.
Favorite online places right now:
@imageigloo’s Instagram // BlvckVrchives – An Archive of Black Life //Asymptote Journal // Christine Shan Shan Hou’s Tumblr // Words Without Borders
My daughter Xing at age two, saying: “It’s not about no candy, it’s about yes candy!”
Your rituals (writing or not):
Too many cat-petting rituals to name. Suffice it to say, they make my life worth living.
Least impressive thing about you:
If I had a dollar for every person who’s asked me where I was born & when I answered “Indiana,” said “India?” I’d be a rich woman.
Favorite space to write:
Bed near a window or window seat.
What should we know:
“You do not need to leave your room, remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” – Franz Kafka, from The Zürau Aphorisms, 1917-1918 translator(s) unknown
Guilty literary pleasure:
For me, every literary pleasure is a guilty one. I was raised to feel guilty about most things. My father was a judge and the verdict he handed down was, more often than not, GUILTY.
Best book nobody talks about:
Thereafter Johnnie by Carolivia Herron
Character (TV, book, movie) you most identify with:
Humbert Humbert in Lolita & Marguerite Duras in The Lover
Last time you lied:
I find it difficult to lie. When I was in college, my mother gave me her video store card & told me to pretend I was her but I couldn’t do it. (The fact of our wildly divergent phenotypes & last names further complicated the situation.) Even when my own mother gives me permission to lie, I find it difficult. And yet, I lied just yesterday, answering questions for a staff feature at the library where I work. The question was, “Who is your favorite fictional librarian?”
The honest answer is Mayumi Saito, the main character from my novel, Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness, but I couldn’t bring myself to say that, because it struck me as bad form. But lying is bad form too, so I was torn! In the end, I lied and said the narrator of Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!! whom I also love, just not quite as much as I love my own creation.
Question you secretly want to be asked: I have the recipes for all the cakes in the world, which one would you like me to make for you first? (voice of Laura Coit)
The answer: State Road Restaurant’s Root Beer Bundt Cake, you dream girl.
Jennifer Tseng is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. Her most recent book is a collection of very short stories, The Passion and Woo & Isolde. She teaches year-round for the Fine Arts Work Center’s online writing program, 24PearlSt. & works as a part-time circulation assistant at the Public Library of Brookline.