Apogee Journal is excited to welcome Esmé-Michelle Watkins as our newest Fiction Editor on our editorial team. See what she has to say about being a writer and lawyer, literary justice, and the book that was so spectacular, she threw it against the wall.
Apogee Journal [AJ]: Welcome to Apogee Journal! As a fiction writer and attorney, you are part of a long legacy of lawyer-poets from Wallace Stevens to Monica Youn. How do you see these two aspects of your working life coming together? Does one influence the other? If so, how?
Esmé-Michelle Watkins [EW]: I became an attorney because I am immensely concerned with effecting justice in the world. I suppose I am a writer for the same reason. The most elemental function of language is to control an experience or history by describing it. If our cultural histories are not embraced by language in this way, they are subject to erasure. Growing up, I didn’t come across too many fictional characters who looked or sounded like me or folks in my family. It was clear from an early age that we were part of a periphery that wasn’t always celebrated in the canon. I think we’ve come a long way since that time. However, the recent Academy Awards mishugas is an indication that we still have much work to do. I think this notion of peripheral art and its interplay with language inform me as a person and are reflected in the topics I orbit as a writer. I believe that literature can be transformative, but this feature is directly and proximately related to our openness to read stories from outside of our own cultural prerogatives. In the words of one of my favorite writers and editors Hilton Als, “We cannot become if we are constantly referring to ourselves.” I suppose dedicating my work to this mission of becoming is my own form of literary justice.
Read the rest of the interview here: Interview with Mimi Watkins