Working the Land, Writing in Your Head: Q&A with Novella Carpenter

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I was in Upstate New York last fall, visiting family, when my aunt thrust a book in my hands. “I saved this for you,” she said. “You have to read it.” The book was Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, by Novella Carpenter (Penguin Press, 2009). I was skeptical. After all, my aunt is as conservative and Catholic as I am liberal and un-churched. But I was immediately sucked into Carpenter’s world, into the unlikely mixture of urban life: the graffiti, the drugs, the lawlessness of a dead-end Oakland street; and the farming life: hives buzzing with happy […]

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A Fight Against the Meanness in This World: Q&A with Matthew Dickman

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Matthew Dickman’s first book, All-American Poem, received the 2008 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize in Poetry, and his second book is slated to appear in 2012 from W.W. Norton. Featured in ZYZZYVA’s Spring 2011 issue, Dickman’s work has also appeared in The New Yorker, AGNI Online, and Tin House, where he works as an editor. The twin brother of poet Michael Dickman, his poems function as both paeans and laments of the zeitgeist of modern American life — tessellating mythology with reality, Beat zeal with modern nods toward restraint. The Oregon native sat down with ZYZZYVA at Stumptown Coffee […]

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The Strength to Endure the Worst: A Q&A with Filmmaker Tatiana Huezo

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  “The Tiniest Place,” the remarkable documentary by Mexican filmmaker Tatiana Huezo, records the memories of the people of Cinquera, a small town in the mountains of El Salvador that was destroyed by the military during the Salvadorian Civil War. Huezo’s debut film is compelling, formally and emotionally. (“The Tiniest Place” screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival.) We talked to Huezo about the evolution of her film. ZYZZYVA: In the Q&A after one of screenings at the San Francisco Film Festival, you mentioned your grandmother was born in Cinquera. Perhaps we could start there and then talk about […]

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Alexander Yates: Mashing Up the Loud and the Quiet, and the Beauty of ‘Gagamba’

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There is an optical phenomenon that occurs when the moon is at its fullest (or nearly so) in which bright circular spots appear atop a lunar halo.  These “moondogs” give off a little color of their own, but their main source of light stems from the moon’s luminescence.  They do not stray far from the edges of the moon’s glow. Alexander Yates’s new novel, “Moondogs,” is titled after this piece of celestial minutiae, and the naming is apt. The book’s multiple story lines linger around the same, somewhat otherworldly event: the abduction of a wealthy American businessman by a pair […]

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Naomie Kremer: The Vocabulary of Obsession and Obsessiveness

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Naomie Kremer has been described as “a remarkable and innovative colorist, with a subtle mastery of intimating interior meaning.” Her current exhibition, “Multiverse Part I,” at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco through April 23, showcases 12 of her densely layered oil-on-linen paintings, all characterized by Kremer’s sensuous use of color, her energetic and meticulous brushwork, and a complex, detailed sense of structure. Yet her work in black and white is integral to her craft, and equally compelling. ZYZZYVA sat down with the Bay Area artist in her bright and inviting studio in Oakland on a recent stormy day. As the […]

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Philip Connors: Fire Lookouts, Kerouac, and Thinking Like a Mountain

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Fire Season, a first book from Philip Connors, is a memoir of the author’s summers as a fire lookout in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. During fire season, Connors spends his nights in a Forest Service cabin and his days in a seven-by-seven-foot box atop a steel tower. He hikes, fishes, throws a Frisbee around with his faithful dog, plays endless games of cribbage. His only companions (apart from the musk deer and the occasional long-distance hiker) are literary — Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Edward Abbey, Norman Maclean — all of them veterans of lookoutry. Connors records the day-to-day of […]

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