After participating in an inspiring writing workshop with Jayne Anne Phillips as part of The 15th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Lisbon this past June, Jayne Anne kindly agreed to answer a few questions for the ASB. The resulting email interview gives our readers a glimpse into the many roles that Jayne Anne plays and her take on creative writing in a post-literate society.
Sabrina: Please use three adjectives to describe yourself.
Jayne Anne: Three words: these might change day to day, but today I’d say: Determined. Questioning. Hyper-sensory aware.
Since tomorrow is the National Day of Unplugging, we thought it only made sense to relaunch the “Thoughts of a Digital Alternative.” Here’s our advice: Use your phone today and “tell a friend.” If you still need assistance, download the unplugging kit: www.nationaldayofunplugging.com.
Believe it or not, I’ve never owned a cell phone. This sentence coming from a toddler might not be that astounding, but coming from a middle-aged woman who tremendously enjoys the company of friends, colleagues, and students, is rather surprising. Why wouldn’t anyone – with the exception of hermits and strict techno refuseniks – want to enjoy being and staying in touch all the time. Well, maybe it is exactly the “all the time” that I find disturbing. Of course, people tell me that you could just turn your phone off, that you don’t need to be online continuously, that it’s o.k. to be unavailable at times. And apparently, I’m not alone. Read more »
Perhaps you’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a professional writer, or you simply want to indulge in flights of fancy that you later commit to paper. Whether you turn your passion into your profession or rekindle the embers of that passion every now and then, there’s always something to learn from veteran writers. Since one of my passions is improv, I asked Anishnawbe writer Drew Hayden Taylor if he’d mind doing an improv interview with me. As someone who is used to scripting his characters’ responses, Drew was skeptical at first but warmed up to the interview in no time. During our Skype call, I sent him 10 rapid-fire questions one by one, which he, in turn, had to answer off the cuff. The result is a writer’s unadulterated lowdown on writing. Read more »
It was Easter Sunday 1969 and I was a boy. My parents had staged an Easter egg hunt in our garden, and I was searching beneath a cherry tree, inside the dog’s kennel, and eventually also in our tiny grove of lilacs. And that’s where I found it, covered with branches and leaves: a single record in a black sleeve. The center of the sleeve read “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” by The Beatles. I rushed into the house, turned the record player to 45 rpm, and put it on. I must have listened to the song a dozen times. Then, finally, I turned the record over and tried the B-side. That was the moment they had me. I fell in love with The Beatles.
It goes without saying that the Germans’ unrivalled fascination with the Native people of North America is not exactly a well-kept secret. Case in point: the annual Karl May Festivals in Bad Segeberg and Elspe. But I’ve always wondered whether this fascination might be mutual. Spoiler alert: It is.
In 2017, Anishnawbe writer Drew Hayden Taylor set out in search of Winnetou. What he found ranged from the amusing to the unsettling. In other words, the perfect material for his documentary film, Searching for Winnetou, where the fine line between appropriation and appreciation becomes a bit blurred. Curious about the making of? Then click on our exclusive interview with the writer. Read more »
Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was a German-Jewish antimilitarist anarchist essayist, poet, and playwright. I can check most of those boxes. I tried anarchy in my 20s; it didn’t fit. And while my maternal grandparents were German, I started life in New Jersey.
Since 2003, I have maintained my writing office, research library, and a small performance space in the same building in Berlin where Mühsam worked and lived with his wife Zenzl. Alt-Lietzow 12. There is a plaque dedicated to Mühsam beneath my window. His spirit is everywhere here. He sat where I sit. Climbed the steps I climb. Feared what I fear.