M.I.A. October: Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

Allison_Hedge_Coke_Headshots-3What is the book (or story) that you are currently working on?

Just sent off final proofs on Streaming, coming out in December, with Coffee House Press.

Where did the idea come from and does it fall under a specific genre?

The book is in tribute to the earth and calculates catastrophe caused by humankind upon her and intimate, personal, experiences within the changes we are going through as a species. Poetry.

What are you currently reading (and why should others be reading it too)?

Currently blurbing about ten books that will be coming out soon, so reading tons of new work by new poets and writers. We all need to keep abreast of the ever-growing conversations in poetry, prose, literature, and to be informed as to what conversation we are in, as writers.

What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?

National Book Award long listings:

Who/what inspires your writing?

I’m inspired by nearly everything, especially dreams and daydreams, but everything around me at all times. I am pretty curious, by nature, and tend to dwell on things, so the muse is almost always influx. Like this moment, I can hear at least four different bird calls, and some pecking on the rafter and gutter, some wing flutter, an airplane, a car or truck, people talking, and over it all the mountains standing up against the sky with clouds tumbling over, and fronds waving right outside this window… all of it.

Who, everybody. Especially those who act fearless and are seen as without grace due to circumstance.

Of course I am also inspired in multiple ways, as a writer, as a human being, by Quincy Troupe, Sonia Sanchez, Ishmael Reed, Juan Felipe Herrera, Arthur Sze, Cornelius Eady, Rigoberto Gonzales, Adrian Matejka, Travis Hedge Coke, Stephen Graham Jones, Sherwin Bitsui, many many many more.

What does your writing process entail?

Sleep, mostly. I dream heavily and write from those sequences. Sometimes I am dreaming in my wakefulness and those meditations are also fodder for the work. Additionally, I make time and place to work and ensure I am eating as well as I can be, attending to things that support the work, like taking walks, swimming, and, yep, sleeping.

Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?

All of the super-talented PhD candidates at UH Mānoa, and to Craig Santos Perez, for his utter brilliance in developing lines that field thought and provoke audience and Brandy Nālani McDougall for her gorgeous poetic and sheer bravery in evoking field response to human experience, to everyone writing in these times. We so need.

M.I.A. October: Craig Santos Perez

2014 bio picWhat is the book (or story) that you are currently working on?

I am working on several projects: a scholarly dissertation on Chamorro literature, my fourth book of poems, a creative biography of my father, and a nonfiction book about food.

What are you currently reading (and why should others be reading it too)?

I am mostly reading texts for the courses I am teaching. These past few weeks, these include Deborah Miranda’s Bad Indians and Douglas Kearney’s The Black Automaton.

What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?

Michael Martinez’s In the Garden of the Bridehouse and Joan Naviyuk Kane’s Hyberboreal.

Who/what inspires your writing?

Everything I read, from literature to the news to social media to nature, inspires my writing. My wife and daughter are also inspirational to me.

What does your writing process entail?

Thinking, handwriting, typing, editing, printing, handwritten edits, re-typing, re-printing, praying.

Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?

I want to give a shout out to the students and faculty of the UHM Creative Writing Program!

M.I.A. October: Allison Amend

AmendWhat is the book (or story) that you are currently working on?

I am writing a book about Jewish spies in the Galapagos Islands during the Second World War. The same editor who published my last novel, “A Nearly Perfect Copy” has bought this one too.  So far, it’s called “Other Islands” and I hope to have a draft of it finished by the time I leave Hawaiʻi in November.

Where did the idea come from and does it fall under a specific genre?

I went to the Galapagos Islands as a teenager and fell in love with the place. The cradle of evolutionary imagination, the Galapagos Islands bring to mind images of a fertile garden of Eden. The reality of living on the Galapagos contrasts greatly: active volcanoes, lack of drinking water, inhospitable brush and wildlife, and unfriendly neighbors conspire to drive out those who are not suited to deprivation. I wanted to write about this human history.

This will be my second book of historical literary fiction.

 What are you currently reading?

Just finished “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. A beautiful dystopian book with fantastically drawn characters and a can’t-put-it-down plot.

What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?

“The Great Glass Sea” by Josh Weil

“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Wells

“We Are Not Ourselves” by Matt Thomas

Who/what inspires your writing?

I tend to be inspired by whomever I’m reading at the time. Accessible literary fiction heroes Ann Patchett, Barbara Kingsolver, are some of my favorites.

What does your writing process entail?

When I’m not teaching I get up every morning and go to a communal writing space. Now that I’m drafting a new novel, I have a daily word quota, and I turn on “Freedom” (a program which blocks internet access for a specified amount of time) and pound out a thousand words. Then I quit, whether I’m on a roll or stuck. I spend the rest of the day researching, applying for grants and doing questionnaires like this!

Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?

Everyone who has given generously of their time and expertise. Most recently Binnie Kirshenbaum, Amber Dermont and Irina Reyn have been beyond helpful in writing recommendations and reading my work.