The Artisanal Writer

Explores the Craft of Writing

Current Issue

The Descendants

It was a challenge to write about the sometimes tumultuous relationship between violence, forgiveness and healing, but I found it worthwhile, even cathartic. On a trip to Rwanda in 2010, I met many people who lived through the horrors of genocide yet unfathomably were able to forgive the perpetrators of the violence. And then there are other people we come across in our day-to-day lives who hold on to the seemingly smallest trespass against them and will never find it within themselves to forgive.

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The Loyal Daughter

Family histories exist beyond the limited stories or anecdotes that most people hear about—they exist within the political, geographical, and sociological circumstances of certain periods of time. These circumstances couch the family lore. I often found myself lost in research because an understanding of peripheral circumstances led me to a deeper understanding of the characters’ decisions or actions.

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Pilgrim to No Country

Immigrants live in a condition of ‘wretched two-ness.’ W.E.B DuBois described the precarity of this position (in relation to his own people) as a form of double-consciousness, involving the inhabitation of separate worlds without the benefit of full belonging in any one. I wanted to find a way to bring out this two-ness within the genetic fabric of my poetry.

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Part of the story is my struggle, in the wake of our breakup, to trust my intuition again: I felt it had betrayed me. It took several years – and many affirming experiences canoeing safely on my own – to realize my intuition was in fine working order. What had screwed me up was not the thought but my attachment to it. It was an important lesson, that nothing is chiselled in stone.

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On Poetics

We don’t live in what Keats described as a “vale of soul making”
just to pander to people who are ignorant, or intolerant, or bullies.
My rule is: write exactly what I feel hesitant about writing, what I
want to keep silent about, what I want to censor; that’s where poetry
lies, it is found in the shadow of consciousness.

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