Tag Archives: Wink Atlanta

Awful Interview: Jessie Donaghy

7 Feb

Jessie Donaghy is more than your average good samaritan. Though she is very very much a good samaritan. Atlantans may have heard of her via her good work with Wink, and also recently the Wren’s Nest. Jessie writes, and she writes beautifully. Lucky you! You get to hear her read next Monday, February 13th at the Goat Farm!

So Jessie, how is your day so far? What have you been up to?

Hi Laura! This morning has been interesting…I went to yoga, but just as I was walking up to the door to the studio, they locked me out! I admit I was seven minutes late, but really? I decided to stop by Sam Flax to return some markers on the way home, and I got lost in their Paperie for a good 30 minutes, as usual. Have I told you that paper is one of my biggest weaknesses? I don’t know what to do with myself when I encounter cute stationary or journals. I have also recently become obsessed with sealing my letters with a wax stamp. But I digress. Now I am home, chatting with you and eating cinnamon raisin toast.

Stamp as in wax stamp/seal or sticker stamp? What do you think the root of this recent obsession? I have a large collection of journals and stationery as well!

Good old-fashioned wax stamp/seal. I think that personal letter correspondence is becoming a lost art, and with it, all the fun trappings of sending and receiving letters. For example, who still writes with an inkwell and quill pen? And yet, it’s so legit. There is something very satisfying about crafting a letter to a friend. Apart from the words you write, you also get to create an aesthetic and tactile experience, which an email cannot do. Wax seals are just another way to make letters more individual. Just last week, I sealed all of my wedding invitations. I burned myself a couple of times and it took forever, but the end result was completely worth it! It was fun to use the letter “M” of my future last name 🙂

Has being a future Mrs. effected your writing in any way?

I will admit it has been harder to remain disciplined in my writing. A wisp of a poem will start to come, and then I remember I have to confirm something with the caterer. Before I realize it, the poem flits out of my mind and probably alights into someone else’s imagination. The bane of a poet’s existence. Also, with book project deadlines coming up with Wink and Wren’s Nest, I have been focusing more on getting kids to write rather than writing my own stuff. Is that hypocritical of me? Be honest.

Hmm. You put me between a rock in a hard place on that one. I’m going to say no, for the sake of self-preservation. If it makes you feel better, I’ve been working on the same few short stories for eternity.
How do we get ourselves out of our writing ruts? Let’s come up with a plan!

Let’s! I’ve noticed that when I actually take the time to go for a walk in my neighborhood (Grant Park), I come home emptied of a lot of my busy thoughts and I am more ready to hit the pages, or rather, laptop. Also, I went through a season where I made myself write 3 pages as soon as I woke up every morning. Most mornings it was just plain garbage, but I found that getting those initial words out of me cleared the way for better words to come forth later on that day. What works for you? We should combine our forces to combat writer’s block (or perhaps it’s more like writer’s procrastination).

Walking/running has always helped me conquer the day and clear my head as well. I actually just re-read a short story by Andre Dubus about a weightlifter, and he argues that he gets too wound up and can’t think straight if he doesn’t go to the gym. I think there’s a good argument for that. In any case, for a really long time I also used to write for about an hour first thing every morning, but since my husband and I got a puppy in late October it became very difficult for me to focus with her romping about the room and being 100% adorable. Needless to say, my morning discipline has fallen to the wayside.
Do you have any advice? Also, have you ever read Andre Dubus?

I must meet this puppy! I have that same issue when my cat, Josie, comes to visit me in the morning. She has a glorious fluffy, white belly that begs to be pet. But I digress. I have read Andre Dubus, and I would have to say that one of my all time favorite short stories is “A Father’s Story”. It gets me every time. While we are on the topic of shorts, I must admit that I really admire Flannery O’Conner and how she wrote almost every day for 3 hours even though she was terminally ill. I may or may not have visited Andalusia and Flannery’s grave at some point in my life. Authors like her and Dubus make me want to be a better writer.

Me too! Any other literary heroes you would like to mention? How do they influence the way you write?

In regards to non-fiction, definitely Annie Dillard and Thomas Merton. They both had a way of conveying great depth and meaning in such a beautiful and simple manner. I have learned to be more patient in observing nature from Dillard, and have become more introspective through reading Merton.

When it comes to fiction, I have a knack for the French epics. I cannot decide if I love Hugo’s Les Miserables or Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo more. I am enamored with stories that can be peeled back layer after layer. The thought of scheming up and executing a book like Les Mis is beyond me. I feel pushed to write more and write longer when I read books like these.

For poetry, Mary Oliver is my default read. A great deal of my writing is inspired by the natural world, so her imagery resonates with me. I have also recently discovered Natasha Tretheway, who teaches over at Emory. She writes a lot about her relationship with her mother, and about growing up in the South. Her approach to these topics caught me off guard in the best way possible.

Who do you think would win in an arm wrestling contest: Victor Hugo or Alexander Dumas?

I can’t help but project Hugo and Dumas’ protagonists on them: I see Hugo as a lumbering gentle giant of a man who used to be on the chain gang but now tries to make recompense by raising orphans, and Dumas as mysterious millionaire with a glorious moustache who is out to get all his ex-friends who double crossed him. From being on the chain gang, Hugo would have sheer brawn on his side, but he would feel bad about being able to win so easily so he’d hold back. Dumas, with a prison history of his own, would start out determined to win, but seeing the compassionate nature of his foe, call for a truce and order them both a round of bière de garde, because, of course, this arm wrestling match would take place in a French beer cafe.

What if you joined them at the table? What would you tell them about our reading on February 13th to encourage them to attend? What kind of beer would you order?

I’d be so starstruck I wouldn’t trust myself to say anything of substance. I’d probably grab a piece of parchment, scribble something to the effect of: “Napoleon Bonaparte still lives. Come see him read poetry at the Goat Farm on February 13th at 8pm. Also, can I have your autographs please?”. Then I would order a St. Bernardus Abt 12, take a deep breath, and mosey on over to their table.

Vouched ATL September wrap-up

13 Oct

Whoa September flew by! It feels like maybe October is following suit. Before time gets away from me I’d like to do a round up of VouchedATL’s September happenings. But since it’s October, I’ll sneak a trick in the treat: this whole post is backwards.

We had a reading on September 19th! It was full of wonder and glory! Our readers were stupendous! The venue was amazing! The audience was beautiful!

Here’s a picture of Molly Brodak and Matt DeBenedictus reading to us. They charmed everyone’s pants off. Molly made caramels and they were absolutely delicious. That tells you a lot about Molly, doesn’t it? I can only imagine that it takes great patience and precision to make chocolate dipped caramels. She’s just as careful with her words, and it shows.

Matt gave everyone choices. He would hold up his hands and summarize option 1 and option 2. It was kind of a Choose Your Own Adventure situation. Who doesn’t love choosing their own adventure? At the end of one of his stories, about different popes, he stood up on his chair like a boss. It was great.

Before them Cristina Martin read. Her poems are sweet and carbonated like champagne, brimming with description that bursts off the page. They’re beautiful to hear. Cristina read after Daniel Beauregard, whose poetry is full of undercurrents and introspection. This is what they looked like reading.

First of the evening was Sarah Beard, who was spritely and potent. Before her there was set-up times. Check out the amazing lighting that the goat-farm had for us!

The VouchedATL Chalkboard actually made its debut a week before at the Decatur Book Festival! Two days of book-loving bliss with the great people of Wink!   The pictures say quite a bit for me.

I’d like to take a second and thank all of the local writers who came by to visit throughout the two days: Gina Myers, Cristina Martin, Molly Brodak, Matt DeBenedictis, Tom Cheshire, Jamie Iredell (+ family!), Blake Butler, Ben Spivey, Melysa Martinez, Johnny Carroll, and John Steen. All of you really made my weekend. It was also wonderful to meet so many new writers and readers. I hope that everyone at the festival had as much fun as we did. (Trust me, we had a lot of fun.)

Also a thousand thank you’s to the good people of the Goat Farm who were so incredibly helpful . More thank you’s to our stupendous readers! Thank you to Wink for being the best bunch of booth buddies! Thank you to my awesome husband for being such a champion with a camera!

Our next Vouched Presents reading will be Wednesday, November 9th at the Goatfarm, with awesome readings by Robert Pfeiffer, Gina Myers, Tom Cheshire, and Amy Herschleb! More details, Awful Interviews, and an awesome poster to come!

VouchedATL at the Decatur Book Festival

2 Sep

Hey  y’all! In case you haven’t heard, I’m going to be setting up shop at the Decatur Book festival with Wink this weekend. We’ll be in our booth, A126 from 9am to 6pm tomorrow and from 12pm to 6pm on Sunday! We have all sorts of fun and tom-foolery planned including visiting Atlanta-based writers, poetry for $1, and a literary quiz show, among other shenanigans! Please come stop by. We will have so much fun!

While you’re there, you should check out the tons of wonderful readings going on (including readings by Blake Butler and Bruce Covey) check them all out on the schedule page!

SSR #4 of 15: (W)ink Atlanta’s Hey, New Kid!

11 Jul

(W)ink Atlanta is a phenomenal organization. They go to Atlanta-area schools and tutor children in creative writing, and at the end of the semester/quarter/what-have-you they publish the children’s work and host a reading for them. Like I said, phenomenal. I’m honored to help spread the word of them to you now and also by selling their first collection, Hey, New Kid, at my table. Here’s a single sentence review about how much it rocks:

Every school should have a field guide like this so children could expertly maneuver through the hallways with their oversized hall passes, their stomachs unburdened by the challenge of hairy cafeteria pizzas and grilled cheeses, their permanent records void of in-school suspensions… all of the students  could climb through the ascending grade-levels in a cloud of cackles and success.

Atlanta Vouched Table

31 May

Vouched Books is launching it’s first colony in Atlanta! You may have heard that already, it’s been mentioned in a few different places. But this is my ‘formal announcement’ of sorts. As formal as I can muster, that is.

I’ve put off writing this. Colonization and colonialism have a terrible connotation from what happened between 1500 and 1800. Rest assured Atlantans, I’m not doing this the Portugese, English, French, Dutch, or Spanish way. This is not that kind of colony. Although I can’t speak for Pocahontas and her naked cartwheels through Jamestown. Please don’t doubt that I will do everything in my power to get the people of Atlanta to do naked cartwheels over small press books.

Naked cartwheels or no, this is a new kind of colony. Vouched Books in Atlanta aims to do much the same thing Christopher started in Indianapolis. We love words and the people who write them. Our mission is to get those works into the hands of the people of our cities. It will not result in a Trail of Tears or a caste system. We exist to raise up the writers we love, the words those writers create. There are so many that I know and love, and it is my mission to deliver them to Atlanta.

I feel so honored to offer this service to my city.

A colony cannot be launched single-handedly. First and foremost, Christopher has been the most wonderful mentor, big brother, and best friend I could hope for. He has walked me through this process step by step, introduced me to a lot of great people, publishers, and writers, and helped me get everything underway to do this correctly. There are plenty of new presses that I am so excited to have forged relationships with over the past few months, and many who we have already done established work with who have been equally supportive of the new colony.

Atlanta has a lot of great talent who have also been helpful, who there is no way I could have gotten this underway without them. Amy McDaniel, Jamie Iredell, and Blake Butler have been enthusiastic of the cause, even going so far as to helping me with a soft launch this June 4th at Artlantis (come visit us!). Then there’s the Purge ATL family , specifically Tim Song, Johnny Carroll, and Matt Debenedictus, who have been so kind as to assist me in organizing a launch reading upcoming in July, and helping me find different area events to get involved in. Wink Atlanta is another organization I have grown to know and love over the past few months, and I aim to continue to work with them closely into the future. They are a literary organization of writers who tutor Atlantan children in creative writing, and help the students publish and publicly read their work.

I feel so privileged to find myself aligned with so many people and causes. When this colony gets up and running it will be due to all of these assisted efforts.

To everyone who has supported and helped me with this cause, I solemnly vow to be the best damned Vicereine this city has ever seen.

So to start off with, if you’re in the Atlanta area, come to Artlantis and say hello Amy McDaniel and me at our booth at this Saturday June 4th! We’ll be in front of Druid Hills Baptist Church at 1085 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, 30306.

You can follow the VouchedATL twitter for news and updates as well!