Literal Magic: An Interview with Poet Kaveh Akbar
by Christopher Locke
Poet Kaveh Akbar understands what’s at stake: as a recovering alcoholic/addict, he knows his current reality as one of today’s most exciting voices in contemporary American poetry could just as easily not have been. Life is about choices. Simple as that. And Kaveh decided, no, he knew, in order to start living he had to choose to abandon those things which subtracted from life. And he knew moving forward he could only live one way: honestly. This truth is evident in the astounding poems which make up his first chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. Searing and painful, hypnotic and surreal, his poems also find room for the sensual and the abundant; Kaveh praises living both as a spiritual being and a physical one. But the wolf is always present, and he knows that too. I spoke to Kaveh by phone on a dreary day in February from my office in upstate New York. But Kaveh’s genuine kindness, his thoughtful intelligence, and his love of language and of living—really, of magic—made everything a bit brighter that day.
An Interview With Manjula Martin
by Celia Johnson
When we talk to writers about their work, we tend to focus on craft. What inspired you to write your novel? Do you have any creative quirks? But rarely do we ask: How do you balance art and commerce? Did you struggle to pay the bills in those early days? Are you struggling now, after selling your first (second, third…) book? In her new anthology, Scratch, Manjula Martin invites emerging and established writers (Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Alexander Chee, Daniel José Older, among others) to strike up a conversation about making a living as a writer.
Authors In Conversation
Authors in Conversation: Melissa Febos and Garth Greenwell
A Discussion with Melissa Febos and Garth Greenwell, by Brian Gresko
In addition to their writing and teaching, Melissa Febos and Garth Greenwell are each politically active. Here, we briefly discuss not just how their work reflects their politics, but given the timeframe—November 2016—how Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election affected them as artists and human beings. (This conversation will continue in Slice: Issue 20, available March 2017.)
An Interview with Deborah Shapiro, by Stephanie Feldman
Deborah Shapiro’s debut novel, The Sun in Your Eyes, tells the story of Lee and Viv, two best friends who reunite after years of silence. Lee is looking for a partner in her search for the final recordings of her father, dead rock icon Jesse Parrish. Viv is looking for an escape from her soap opera writing job and her domestic life. Together they travel through Jesse’s past, and their own, in search of a resolution to the bond they once shared.
Critics have lauded the book’s portrait of female friendship, and through that friendship, Shapiro explores art and celebrity, parents and romantic partners, and what happens when you’ve already come of age but find you still have more road to travel.
An Interview with Jeffrey Thomson, by Heidi Sistare
Jeffrey Thomson’s most recent book, fragile, is a memoir that covers years and many miles, exploring our relationship to the natural world and to risk. It’s a story that gives us unfettered access to Thomson’s thoughts; we share his experiences with travel, teaching, fatherhood, and the edge between living and dying. In addition to being a memoirist, Thomson is a poet, translator, and teacher. I spoke with Thomson about place, collaboration, and his current project—a historical novel inspired by Thomson’s own ancestry set in the 1700s. He also shares the most important lessons he hopes to impart to his students and reminds us: “Writing is about learning. Always.”