Nicole Dennis-Benn (’13) in the NYT!

Nicole Dennis-Benn (’13) in the NYT!

Forbidden Love, and a View of Jamaica Beyond the Beaches

Nicole Dennis-Benn’s debut novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” is about Margot, a young woman in Jamaica coming to terms with her sexuality and dealing with the encroachment of tourism on her village. Ms. Dennis-Benn, who left Jamaica at 17 to go to college and received her bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, discussed the book in an email interview and the effect she hopes it will have on visitors to her home country. Edited excerpts from the conversation are below.

What role do you think literature can play in teaching cultures about each other?

While writing “Here Comes the Sun,” I wanted readers to see the other side of paradise; I wanted them to see the real people behind the fantasy life advertised in commercials. Next time a reader visits any place — be it Jamaica or Thailand or India — perhaps now they might be more inclined to venture outside the gates of the resort.

Read the rest of the profile here: Forbidden Love, and a View of Jamaica Beyond the Beaches

An Interview with Mimi Watkins (’15), the New Fiction Editor at APOGEE

An Interview with Mimi Watkins (’15), the New Fiction Editor at APOGEE

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

Sanderia Faye Featured on the UT Dallas Homepage

Sanderia Faye Featured on the UT Dallas Homepage

UT Dallas student Sanderia Faye spends a lot of time reading and dissecting books for her doctoral research, but she also has been working on a book of her own.

A PhD candidate in the aesthetic studies program in the School of Arts and Humanities, Faye recently finished her debut novel, Mourner’s Bench, about a young girl navigating life in small-town Arkansas during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The novel was published by theUniversity of Arkansas Press.

“I started with two little girls and wondered what it would be like to be friends during this time period and have activists for parents,” Faye said. “It grew from that.”

Read the rest of the article here:  http://www.utdallas.edu/news/2015/10/2-31705_Student-Weaves-Civil-Rights-Figures-Her-Experience_story-wide.html

THIS WRITER’S ON FIRE: Kima Jones (’14) Profiled

THIS WRITER’S ON FIRE: Kima Jones (’14) Profiled

…by Melissa Moorer on THE TOAST

“Jones’ poetry often invokes a sense of intimate nostalgia — a warm thirst for a moment or a place that was, or that could have been. The verses change pace on a dime. They vibrate.” — Jairo Ramos at NPR: Code Switch.

“we tested our faith

in stories of birds

and bees

but

bees lied.” — Kima Jones from “Fresh.”

Read the rest of the profile here, on THE TOAST:  http://the-toast.net/2015/09/02/this-writers-on-fire-kima-jones/