A 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, Desiree Cooper is a former attorney, Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist and Detroit community activist. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Callaloo, Detroit Noir, Best African American Fiction 2010, and Tidal Basin Review, among other online and print publications. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets. She is currently a Kimbilio fellow, a national residency for African American fiction writers. I had the extreme honor to discuss motherhood, race, feminism and her first collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, recently published by Wayne State University Press.
You were born and spent a large chunk of your childhood in Japan; you have ties to Virginia and you currently live in Detroit. Where is home?
I was born in Itazuke, Japan. My dad was in the Air Force and I spent nine of my first 14 years in Japan (three separate tours of duty). No, I don’t speak Japanese, except for catch tourist phrases. To this day, my mother says hello in Japanese to me every morning. And I sing Japanese nursery rhymes to my grandson.
My parents have known each other since they were about six, and are from a small town called Waverly in central Virginia. Somehow, I consider myself a Virginian, although I spent very little of my life there. (I’ve been in Detroit for nearly 30 years.)
Read the rest of the interview on RAISING MOTHERS.
Stories by Dianca and Nicole have been selected by Stuart Dybek from one hundred finalists and semi-finalists for inclusion in the 2016 edition of THE BEST SMALL FICTIONS.
The book is scheduled for release in late October.
Read more here about the THE BEST SMALL FICTIONS 2016.
ROMEO NO. 3
Robert don’t need no help pulling girls, now. But when the Dream Date came to Burrell for its Hometown Hunks series, I just had to jump at my chance. See, I’m the type of brother that’s always taking chances. Be it quitting school to become an entrepreneur—because I’m going to have my own business one day—or be it quitting my job at the Dyimond Burger because I found it stifling to my social life. Once I let that be known, Vernecia who stay at the Dyimond Burger and will probably drop dead behind the cash register, way she carries on, she replied, “What social life?” Hardy-har-har-har. What’s funny is the number of milkshakes that girl pours per hour. I watch her taking orders with her head cocked to the side like, You been talking to me this whole time? And mopping through the hook at closing because they short on account of me and she’s steady telling me how she just can’t see it: me, that is, doing much more than the Dyimond Burger. Vernecia was at Baylor for three semesters before her mama passed and she thinks she the only one around here that can do something.
Fact is, the girl’s a naysayer. My own daddy is a naysayer too. But I have what they call an entrepreneurial spirit. And once I become a ladies’ man and an entrepreneur, they’ll have to complain to somebody else. I was in the midst of telling Vernecia that when outside the front windows, the Dream Date rig pulled up South Main. That’d be the stretch of road between the restaurant and the high school, the same road that for two hundred years has only been there to guide you from one side of cow country to the other side of some more cow country. But picture my calling the way I seen it: the words Dream Date in Coca-Cola letters and “Got what it takes to be a Romeo?” in glittering gold underneath. Robert said, Sure thing. I could be a Romeo. I’m telling you, brother, it didn’t take me more than one second to figure out what to do.
Read the rest of the story at JOYLAND.
Congratulations to Amina Gautier (’13) on the publication of her third collection of short stories. THE LOSS OF ALL LOST THINGS won the Elixir Press Award in Fiction. It’s available now, and visit Amina Gautier on the Web to find out about readings and events near you.
I read Ravi Howard’s debut novel Like Trees, Walking a little late. As in summer 2015 late. Some seven years after it was originally published and had already won the Ernest Gaines Award and had been named a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award. But it wasn’t the list of accolades that made me buy and read Howard’s book. It was something much simpler. I heard Howard read from his new novel at an AWP panel, and, afterwards, when I went to the exhibit room to buy it, I saw that an older novel he’d written was also for sale on the publisher’s table. I knew I wanted to read the new book Driving The King, but I also hate to be left out of a literary conversation, so in order to listen in I started from the beginning and read the books in order. I’m glad I did. Howard’s first novel, set in Mobile, Alabama, is about a lynching that occurs in the 1980s. Howard’s second novel, set in Montgomery, Alabama, is about a man who saves singer Nat King Cole from a mob and ends up with a job as his chauffeur. Of course, both novels are about so much more.
Read the interview here: The Sunday Rumpus Interview: Ravi Howard
News about Amina’s new collection later this week!