This summer, we’ve been asking a selection of local writers – across poetry, art, food, fiction, non-fiction, zine making, and party reporting – to bring us into their own private Brooklyns and share what (and where) they are reading, pondering, people watching and daydreaming about as an escape.
Describe your writing practice in 10 words or less. I love waking up early to write. It’s the best time of the day when I can concentrate and spend quality time with my characters.
Favorite spot to journal outside the home? Before Covid, I would journal while riding the train. I enjoyed doing that. My longest commute to work ever was my train ride from Brooklyn to Princeton. I taught at Princeton for a year and used my commute to write. Before that, I taught at the College of Staten Island and wrote religiously on the ferry. The only thing I miss about those jobs was the productive commute.
Best place to people watch? Nowhere better than Prospect Park. I also love the vibe at Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo. Only in those two places do I see diverse folks from all walks of life enjoy themselves in close proximity to each other.
Summer drink of choice? I have three: mint mojito, classic Aperol spritz, and a glass of rosé.
What will you be reading this summer? I tend to revisit classics in the summer: “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston; “Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin; “Zami” by Audre Lorde; “Sula” by Toni Morrison; and “Brown Girl, Brownstones” by Paule Marshall.
Favorite reading nook in the wild? The park.
What’s one book you’re ashamed to say you’ve never read? I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve never read “The Great Gatsby.”
Do you go hard for Brooklyn? I was 24 when I moved to Brooklyn. A baby lesbian in search of love. I found it, got married, started a family, and now I’m a mother, raising my children who are born and bred Brooklynites. In a sense, I came of age in Brooklyn. I became a woman here.
Tips for getting unstuck (in writing and life)? I’m a patron of other forms of art. I’m a museum junkie. Whenever I need a break from writing, I go to the Brooklyn Museum. Whenever I feel stuck in life, I take a breather and write down the things that I’m grateful for. I also love to be out and about with my wife and kids, who are always keeping me on my toes!
Which writer, living or dead, would you like to tour guide around Brooklyn? Toni Morrison. I think she would’ve appreciated going with me to the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I would take her to BAM to catch an independent film or performance. She had a love for fashion like me, so I’d show her my favorite haunts: Martine’s Dream, IndigoStyle Vintage, and the random boutiques on Tompkins Avenue in Bed-Stuy, where I live. She’d appreciate seeing the local artisans at Dance Africa and the African Festival in the summer, I’m sure! Over the branzino and wine at Risbo, we’d share experiences on writing. We would browse books at my favorite Brooklyn independent bookstores: The Word is Change, Café Con Libros, Greenlight, and Books Are Magic. Then we’d go dancing at Basquiat Bottle since I know Toni Morrison had moves!
Favorite depiction of Brooklyn in literature, art, film, or other media? Spike Lee has always represented Brooklyn in film. My favorites of his creations are “Crooklyn,” “Do the Right Thing,” and “She’s Gotta Have It.” All set in Brooklyn! In terms of literature, “Brown Girl Brownstones” by Paule Marshall; “Caroline’s Wedding” by Edwidge Danticat; and “Patsy”, by yours truly (I’m allowed to plug, right?)