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The Kimbilio Interview

The Kimbilio Interview

Here’s a nice interview I did with Hope Wabuke for the Kimbilio website.  While you’re there, also check out the bios of our 2014 Fellows.  I can’t wait to meet them in person.

KCAAF: Where did you grow up?

David Haynes: I grew up outside of St. Louis, in a small community of working class black folks surrounded on all sides by working class white folks.

KCAAF: What was that like? How did it influence you?

David Haynes: Our little “pocket” community was stable and wonderfully nurturing. Same families in the same houses for half a century or more. It’s also true that that kind of insularity can also be stifling at times. This community will be the subject of the novella and stories I’m working on now.

KCAAF: Please tell us some of the books/writers you love.

David Haynes: I read widely and learn from everything I read. This past year, like much of the rest of the literary world, I’ve been celebrating Alice Munro. I’m a writer who thinks structurally, and Munro’s work continues to teach me to think rigorously about the importance of narrative design in storytelling.

Read the rest of the interview here:

AWP: Yes, I’ve Recovered


I’ve taken a week off from blogging to recover from this big party in Boston. Facebook friends gave me entirely too much positive reinforcement for my “Live from the Convention Floor” snark. Totally makes a person want to step up his Twitter Feed!

Truth: I had a wonderful, if exhausting time. AWP is all about good friends and good food and being around thousands (and thousands and thousands) of people who love books and writing as much as you do.

  • It’s about a quick hug in the hallway for one of your first writing teachers in Minneapolis.
  • It’s about introducing yourself and a wonderful young poet/friend to Rita Dove, and having her say, “Don’t be shy, we’re all just writers here.”
  • It’s about giant lobster rolls. (At least in Boston it is.)
  • It’s about strolling down Boylston Street with a student, strategizing about her novel and also about which way to jump to avoid the pools of slush.

I don’t remember being snarky about any of that. And since I’ve already had my say about people who don’t understand how escalators and revolving doors work, I’ll savor the memories of all those books and all those people who love them.

(Seriously, it was coming to fisticuffs at the revolving door.) (Come on people: step in, push a little, step out: How hard is that?)


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A while back, I was denizen of a policy office, and one of my coworkers was also an avid and serious reader.  Frequently we’d share recommendations and every now and then actual books.  I remember telling her about an Alan Hollinghurst novel I was reading, and I described for her the plot and tone.

“Oh, so it’s a gay novel,” she responded.

From the Daily Campus

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Below is a link to a really fine article from  Erica Penunuri, one of SMU’s student journalists, about Njoki McElroy’s recent production.  Erica includes many more details on Dr. McElroy’s class and  the performances.

Nice job, Erica.

SMU students bring African American literature off the page and onto the stage – News – Daily Campus – Southern Methodist University.

And for the heck of it, above is a photo of the best fountain on campus: Wave, by Santiago Calatrava.  You have to see it moving to really get it.


This radiant  presence is Dr. Njoki McElroy. For over a half a century she has been a force in the Dallas cultural scene. A pioneer in the use of drama and performance to build community, Njoki has devoted her life to sharing with the world the glories of African American literature and culture.

The Incident: What Happens in Vegas…

For our opening ritual we hold hands and light candles and promise that nothing that happens within these four walls may ever be revealed to anyone not in the workshop, even under threat of death or dismemberment.  Neither content nor conversation will be shared and we swear on our lives to return the manuscripts to their owners, and barring that we will burn them in our fireplaces and not even write our grocery lists in the margins.

Hey, Buddy: Would You Read My Manuscript?

Everyone is writing a book.  Or if they are not writing a book, they have an idea for a book or they are looking for someone to write a book for them or they found their mother’s diary and wouldn’t that make a good book and won’t you call your publisher and set the whole thing up for them.  Now.  Do it right this minute.  I insist.


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