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Seriously Questioning…John Burnham Schwartz

John Burnham Schwartz is the author of five acclaimed novels, including The Commoner, Claire Marvel, Bicycle Days, Reservation Road, which was made into a motion picture based on his screenplay, and his new novel, The Red Daughter. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. A winner of the Lyndhurst Foundation Award for mastery in the art of fiction, Schwartz has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is currently literary director of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference.

On June 18, he will be speaking at House of SpeakEasy’s Seriously Entertaining showThe Song Sings Itself, alongside Michael Bronski, Trish Hall, and Darcey Steinke.  We spoke to John ahead of the show.

What is your earliest memory involving reading or writing?

There was a picture-book author who was a friend of my aunt’s.  When I was quite small, he generously promised me that he would put me in his next book – and then one day the book arrived, and there it was: my name, written into the drawing of a truck.  He had put me inside a story!  And I knew then that that was the very best place to be.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

If writing fiction is your committed “bad habit” – the thing you can’t live without and which makes no real economic or practical sense – then you must be extraordinarily shrewd about every other professional decision you make, always, so as to insure that your bad habit can never be taken from you.

What writer past or present do you wish you could eat dinner with?

Chekhov.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading or re-reading several family/marriage memoirs by writers I admire: W.S. Merwin’s Unframed Originals; Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family; Richard Ford’s Between Them; Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings; Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

Are there any quotes you use to inspire you?

Walt Whitman:  “Make the Work.”

 

 

 

Seriously Questioning…Darcey Steinke

Darcey Steinke is the author of the New York Times Notable memoir Easter Everywhere, as well as five novels. In 2017 Maggie Nelson wrote a foreword for a new edition of Suicide Blonde. With Rick Moody, she edited Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited. Her books have been translated into ten languages, and her nonfiction… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Darrell Bourque

Darrell Bourque is the former poet laureate of Louisiana and professor emeritus of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he held positions as the Director of Creative Writing, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Humanities program, and Head of the English Department. Darrell has served as the Friends of the Humanities Board of Regents… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Eloisa Amezcua

Eloisa Amezcua earned a BA in English from the University of San Diego, where she was the recipient of the Lindsey J. Cropper Award for Creative Writing in Poetry selected by Ilya Kaminsky. In 2014, she completed the MFA program at Emerson College in Boston, MA. She’s received fellowships & scholarships from the MacDowell Colony,… Continue Reading

Poetry to the People: Raquel Salas Rivera

Raquel Salas Rivera is the 2018-19 Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. They are the inaugural recipient of the Ambroggio Prize, for their book x/ex/exis, and the Laureate Fellowship, both from the Academy of American Poets. From 2016-2018, they edited The Wanderer and Puerto Rico en mi corazón, a collection of bilingual broadsides of contemporary Puerto Rican poets. They are also the… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Michael Bronski

Michael Bronski is an independent scholar, journalist, and writer who has been involved in social justice movements since the 1960s. He has been active in gay liberation as a political organizer, writer, editor, publisher and theorist since 1969. He is the author of numerous books including the recently published A Queer History of the United… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Boris Fishman

Boris Fishman was born in Minsk, Belarus. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Travel + Leisure, the London Review of Books, New York magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian, among other publications. He is the author of the novels A… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Damian Barr

Damian Barr is the author of Maggie & Me, which the Sunday Times named Memoir of the Year. He is Literary Ambassador for the Savoy in London where he hosts his Literary Salon, which has been going for ten years with hundreds of prominent guests including Bret Easton Ellis, John Waters, Colm Tóibín, Jojo Moyes, David Mitchell,… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…Andri Snær Magnason

Seriously Questioning…Andri Snær Magnason

Andri Snær Magnason is an Icelandic writer of novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays and films. His novel LoveStar got a Philip K. Dick Special Citation, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in France, and “Novel of the year” in Iceland. The Story of the Blue Planet was the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic… Continue Reading

Seriously Questioning…E.G. Scott

Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands write together as E.G. Scott. Their first novel The Woman Inside came out earlier this year. Keenan is a writer and publishing consultant based in New York City. She has worked in book publishing for eighteen years for imprints of Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, and Macmillan. Wands writes for the page and screen and… Continue Reading

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