Yet the passage also toys with cause and effect by mixing what is concrete with what is less so. Upon a first reading, I'm not sure if there is actual oil on the roof, heated by the sun and pouring down on him, or if the sun merely feels like hot oil as it blazes through the holes. And, unsure of the physicality of the oil, I don't know if the burning flesh might be his own or if it's someone else's that he's smelling with the earth. Because I can interpret these images as either physical or not quite so, both versions become true in my head. The oil is both physical and metaphorical, the flesh is both his and someone else's.
[GeNtry!fication: or the scene of the crime] is about my situating so many things, land, body, memory, legibility, and blackness in North Minneapolis. It’s an attempt to try to reckon with and bring a wrecking ball to official memory, in the hopes of opening up a fugitive space.
Some writers argue against such formulations [like Maria Machado's use of lists in her story, "Mothers"]. They worry about tripping up the reader and pulling them out of the story. The concern is valid. But just a little bit of impossible choreography—carefully placed, carefully managed, and pinned to the real world with concrete imagery—can be worth the risk.
I promise this is not Shark Tank. (Although would kind of love a pitching panel like that.)
The most rewarding part of my job is making a writer’s dreams come true. The most difficult part of my job is time management – can we have more hours in the day, please?
Each student brought something entirely new to the stage—their poems ranged in theme from the personal to the political, and the event seemed to celebrate diverse voices as much as it did the power of youth and of literature in general.
There are so many rewarding things about this job: Obviously, discovering something amazing — that rising rush when you’re saying to yourself as you turn the pages, oh my gosh, please stay this good, please stay this good. And then, obviously, selling that amazing thing— picking up the phone when the perfect editor calls and starts telling you all the things they loved about the manuscript even more eloquently than what you conveyed in the first place. But all the little connections along the way are rewarding — writing to someone you met a decade ago and having her book your author on her radio show, or interview the author for their blog, etc… Every effective thing you do for a book that you love is rewarding.
More optimistically, while I don’t think we can ask art to “do” anything—after working with my students—I’m more convinced than ever of art’s potential to open a space that is fertile, healing, sacred, and shared. Tomas Tranströmer says, “Every person is a half open door/ leading to a room for everyone.” This work shows me time and again how writing opens that door. It is the most hopeful thing I know.
It’s incredibly hard to get started working in this industry without financial support from family, a spouse, or years working another job. And it’s not because publishing houses aren’t making any money, let’s be clear. The salaries getting cut aren’t usually the ones at the top. Without paying internships, travel/lunch stipends, remote opportunities, open houses, wider candidate pools, acceptance of mid- to late-career changes, and higher starting salaries, we can’t widen the demographics of people working here. And without widening those demographics, we can’t change the landscape of what actually gets published.
Luckily, groups like WNDB, POC in Pub, Latinx in Pub, and Literary Agents of Color are trying to shift some of those things!
This is my encouragement to savor every moment, from the creation of your book idea, to penning the idea, to escorting it to agents and editors. Any attempt to rush the process may deter from your book’s future successes, let alone publication potential, if the wrong steps are taken.