SLICE + VICE: T KIRA MADDEN
August 15, 2019
by Marae Hart
Inspired by the “seven deadly sins,” SLICE + VICE is an exposition of the underbelly of craft. With vice in mind, SLICE asks writers and industry professionals seven short answer questions to illuminate the darker side of creativity and the publishing process.
For the latest SLICE + VICE, we chatted with essayist T Kira Madden, whose memoir Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls was released to much acclaim this year. You can also catch her at the upcoming Slice Literary Writers’ Conference.
Pride: At which literary technique are you the best?
I think I have a good ear and a sensitive eye which is to say I pride myself in having good taste. As a teacher and an editor, I think I’m talented at identifying the inner rhythm and organizing principles of a piece. I’m a hopeful reader, always looking for the strengths, the threads, the metaphorical properties, rather than the ways in which a work may fall short.
Envy: What is something (such as a goal or title) you want so bad, it’s embarrassing?
To be a “literary” guest judge on Top Chef. Or Iron Chef. Or Chopped. I’d even settle for Beat Bobby Flay. Another goal: I’d like to beat Bobby Flay.
Wrath: What do you dislike most about the industry?
The false premise that we’re competing against one another, rather than working towards the same divinity and lifesaving properties of art. I don’t understand people who’re in this for fame (what fame?) or money (what money?) or self-satisfaction and pride. Art should bolster more art, more understanding, period. There is no other purpose.
Sloth: What is your favorite way to be lazy?
I watch A LOT of movies, and, recently, A LOT of television. Is that lazy? I’m not convinced. When people say they watch The Bachelor to “turn their brains off” I don’t buy that. I love The Bachelor and I’m thinking a lot, and listening a lot, as I watch it. Consuming film/television is an easy way to consume story and narrative and dialogue very quickly. It’s not writing, but it’s not nothing.
Greed: Of what can a story never have too much?
Well-written gay sex.
Gluttony: What do you read or research for selfish desire?
I am endlessly fascinated and repulsed by the cult of celebrity, maybe because I was raised in the umbra of a vague “fame” which was never mine, but my family’s. I love iconic paparazzi photos. I indulge in the gaze and the gossip and the mythologies created around people who are mostly just trying to do their jobs. I want to dismantle it all but I also delight in the absurdity.
Lust: What is sexiest about writing?
Writing is the best place to use your desires.
T Kira Madden is a lesbian APIA writer, photographer, and amateur magician living in New York City. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Sun, and Guernica. She is the founding Editor-in-chief of No Tokens, a magazine of literature and art, and is a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her debut memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls, is available now.
Photo by Jac Martinez