I had the opportunity to interview Sophfronia Scott for the Festival of Women Writers. She is the queen of outlining, and her discipline makes me realize how structure can actually free up creativity. Sophfronia’s first big publication was writing about Generation X for Time Magazine. Since I am interested in the notion of categorizing people and literature by generations — the Beat Generation! — I was excited to ask her about her role in speaking for a generation.
Here is a snippet from our Q&A:
Nikolopoulos: While at Time Magazine, you and David Gross collaborated on the story “Twentysomething,” about Generation X. From the Lost Generation to the Beat Generation, and from Generation X to Generation Y, society tries to label groups of people based on when they were born and their shared historical and cultural experiences. As a writer, in what ways do you see yourself speaking for your generation?
Scott: The point of the Time Magazine story was that our generation, having observed and taken in the issues of the previous generation, seemed to be proceeding with our lives in a very thoughtful, observant manner. As a writer I tend to pursue my projects in similar fashion. Yes, I want to tell a good story or write an engaging essay but I’m also conscious of the fact that the story or essay has a deeper meaning. The story or essay interests me for a reason—I know I’m trying to say something important even if I don’t know right away what it is. The novel I recently completed explores sexuality, love, identity, and faith and when you read it you may find it challenging to what you believe about these things. In the big picture my writing, I hope, on some level will always leave you questioning who you are, what you believe, what your life is, in a style that will move you in positive ways.
If you missed it, I also did a Q&A with fellow Festival instructor Esther Cohen.
And, Breena Clarke interview me for a Q&A.
Novelist Breena Clarke — whose book River, Cross My Heart was an Oprah book club pick! — recently interviewed me for the Hobart Festival of Women Writers blog.
Clarke: I’m of the generation that kind of took our counter-culture marching orders from the Beats. You’re a couple of thousand years younger than me. How did you fall under the spell of Jack Kerouac and the Beats?
You can read my answer that question and her others here.
I’m super excited to be participating in the Festival of Women Writers again this year!
I’ll be reading from Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” with Festival participants at WORD bookstore in Jersey City (123 Newark Ave.) on August 18 at 7:30pm.
Then September 11-13, I’ll be returning to the Catskills to teach a writing class at the Hobart Festival of Women Writers.
The summer 2014 issue of Resource features an article I wrote that I’m extremely proud of. I interviewed the founder of Flashes of Hope, a nonprofit that takes photographs of children with cancer, to talk about how the portraits empower these children. The professional portraits also serve as lasting mementos for the families of the 25% of the children photographed who don’t survive. The nonprofit shows just how powerful art can be.
Cancer is a personal subject for me. This summer I did a few readings from a chapter I wrote called “Grief Gone Wild” about the summer I lost both of my grandmothers to cancer a month apart from each other. I was glad to likewise get to put my creative nonfiction to positive use to write this article on Flashes of Hope and show that moments of strength, beauty and even joy can be found even in the midst of trying times.
Jack Kerouac has sometimes been accused of being anti-American or of destroying American values, and yet On the Road depicts a young man reveling in America. On the Road is, in many ways, a love letter to the true America. His honest search has inspired countless readers to pack their bags and hit the road, to discover America for themselves instead of relying on what the history books and network news report and the images coming out of Hollywood and glossy magazines.
Burning Furiously Beautiful details Kerouac’s research into American history and what he saw as he traveled throughout this amazing country.
“Devouring history books and Westerns alike, Kerouac lit out after the authentic America, an America that wasn’t mass produced or steeped in fear of atom bombs and Communism but blazed intrepidly, recklessly onward into the horizon, asking:
‘Wither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?'”
~ Burning Furiously Beautiful
Want to know which books Kerouac read and what sort of authentic people he met while on the road? Buy the book from Lulu or Amazon.
via Lit Kicks
I’m not sure how I possibly missed this, but the blog I’ve been reading for the longest time ever mentioned my Aristophanes post back in December.
Literary Kicks is one of the very first websites I ever discovered on the Internet. Founded by Levi Asher in 1994, it used to cover mainly the Beat Generation but has since expanded to contemplate other forms of literature, philosophy, and art. I always feel like I’m exposed to new works of literature and ideas I wouldn’t have otherwise considered thanks to Literary Kicks. The comments section is full of regulars, some of whom have been around for well over a decade, who write thoughtfully and considerately.
What an honor to get a shout-out on the Literary Kicks Facebook page!
If you flip — or scroll! — to page 40 of Scripps Magazine you’ll see me featured in their regular column of alumnae authors, “ManuScripps.”
The column talks about how Scripps, the women’s college of the Claremont Colleges, fostered my education in the Beat Generation. …Which just goes to show you that feminists can like the Beats!
Special thanks to the Scripps Magazine and the Scripps College Alumnae Association for their support of my writing.
And if you missed it, here’s a post on the New York chapter of the Scripps book club reading Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”
Marco Polo was an explorer. Marco Polo is a lit mag, edited by Darin Beasley, that explores language and love and existence and beauty and Frank O’Hara. It’s a capricious call-and-response. A call to explore the little moments. Responses that show that those small moments can lead to big discoveries. It kind of makes you think about life.
And that’s why I’m so excited to have two short works of fiction* published in Marco Polo.
*They’re mashups of incidents from my life (sort of) and works of literature by William Faulkner and Evan S. Connell.
Do you have a favorite Christmas story? Burnside published one of the most beautiful stories of sacrifices — and irony — I’ve ever read. The O. Henry story, “The Gift of the Magi,” is published with a short introduction by me.
LTJG John F. Kennedy aboard the PT-109 in 1943 (public domain)
I’m doing a bonus post today! Today marks the day that President Kennedy was shot, and Burnside Writers Collective published my photo essay of iconic photographs of JFK. You can see it here.
Whenever I think of the Kennedys, I think of my grandmother. She was always reading biographies about JFK and Jackie O.
I’m thrilled to be published in vox poetica. The lit mag was founded in 2009 by Annmarie Lockhart, a resident of Bergen County, New Jersey — where I’m from!
The poem featured, “In a Diner in America Circa 1956,” came to me one day as I was walking on Park Avenue during my lunch break. I was thinking about Jack Kerouac stopping in a roadside cafe for a little nourishment as he traveled across the country, and the awkwardness and opportunities that abound when one travels on one’s own.
It’s a pastiche of Jack Kerouac’s interview on The Steve Allen Show, his narration of what may be the only true Beat film Pull My Daisy, and an amalgamation of information from his novels and letters as well as biographies.
You can read it here.