Saba Keramati, Jennifer Tan, Jody Chan, and Nita Noveno
In July 2023, we will be welcoming four writers to our annual two-week writing residency in Rhinebeck, New York: Saba Keramati, Jennifer Tan, Jody Chan, and Nita Noveno. We had the chance to work with each previously, as they are all past contributors to our annual literary publication — ranging from our second issue back in 2016 to Issue 16, which publishes this month — and now, we’ll have the opportunity to co-work alongside them at The Crystal Cottage.
Located on 27 acres of disappearing paths in the towering greens and blues of upstate New York, our two-week Rhinebeck Residency is designed to provide the space for four writers to work on their manuscripts. It’s also designed to provide time: uninterrupted, unscripted, and unmoderated time. While the goal is to allow our residents to dive into the depths of their projects — whether it’s getting lost in revision or generating the new and necessary material to get their projects closer to their finish lines — our residences are, at heart, all about quietude and conversation. As such, we call our residencies “quiet collaborations.” No studios, just shared spaces. A glass hut that seats eight, providing views as incredible as its acoustics, and a wraparound deck that has an unobstructed view of the Catskills Mountains. The guiding force for all of our residencies is exchange: the opportunity for writers and artists to reflect on ideas, engage in dialogue about each other’s work, and have the space to air their questions, plans, and hopes about, and for, their work.
We are so thrilled, then, to welcome these four writers to Rhinebeck: Saba Keramati, a Chinese-Iranian writer from the San Francisco Bay area, whom we published in Issue 14: Economies of Harm (read her piece, “There is no other way to say this”); Nita Noveno, an NYC-based writer and educator, who grew up in the rainforest of Southeast Alaska and whom we published in Issue 10: Willful Innocence (read her piece, “Inheritance: A Dance”); Jody Chan, a writer, drummer, community organizer, and care worker based in Toronto/Tkaronto, whom we just published in Issue 16: Proximities (read their two poems); and Jennifer Tan, a writer from Queens, whom we published in Issue 2: Labels (read her piece, “In Less Than 365 Days”).
To give you a sense of what our 2023 Rhinebeck residents are bringing to the Crystal Cottage, here are a few words from each about their work:
- “The Crystal Cottage will give me an opportunity to re-vision my manuscript, Self-Mythology, a book of lyric pieces that explores multiraciality, language consciousness, and whether the body can be considered a home. Through poetry, I also think through what effect these feelings of fractured identity have on language. With this space and time to think critically about my ancestry, I can unearth some of the secrets and shame that make writing about such topics so difficult.” — Saba Keramati
- “A year-and-a-half later, I’m nearing completion of the first draft of my novel. It is a story about four friends growing up in Woodside and Elmhurst, Queens — immigrant working-class white and Asian neighborhoods. In the last summer before high school, Mei, Jessica, Sonia, and Rebecca embark on creating and performing a play together, an endeavor that is supposed to bring them closer and make the summer memorable. But as each friend finds their own paths, they drift away from the others, and begin to transform into versions of themselves they didn’t expect. When tragedy strikes, all they have is each other, but is that enough? The question I’ve been contemplating for years: in the deepest depths of hardship and grief, can friendship save us? I don’t know. But as I write each day, I surrender to my characters and let them lead the way to the answer.” — Jennifer Tan
- “At the residency, I plan to revise my manuscript, Mud on the Moon, a parallel odyssey of a manong in search of an elusive better American life and of his Alaskan-born daughter in a prolonged search and rescue mission for her father’s far-flung history. Inspired in part by the works of John Steinbeck and Carlos Bulosan, Mud on the Moon is an interlacing of lyrical stories and memoir, historical research and meta-narrative, to map dreams, migration, and memory. One strand is composed of imagined tales of my father’s youth in the Philippines in the era of American colonization, his passage to the US on the eve of the Great Depression, journey as a migrant laborer on the west coast, and trials as an aged family man in an Alaskan Filipino community. Another strand is made up of my personal narratives of growing up in a northern wilderness in 1970s and 80s pop culture America, a youth marked by conflicts with a father of an equally tenacious nature and shaped by a close Filipino community, and of my restless spirit at home in transit that echoes my father’s history.” — Nita Noveno
- “What is important to me in my work is poetry’s political power; how its tools can be used to serve the communities in which we exist. Drawing on the work of Audre Lorde and June Jordan, I understand poetry — and art more generally — not as a luxury but as a necessity, a way to think through power and life to fight for a more just world. I’ve been thinking a lot about the word ‘practice’: how it evokes rigour and discipline in relation to art, and how those skills, when cultivated, might be turned towards other sites of struggle, care, and movement-building. I’m hoping to work on my hybrid manuscript of poetry and essays exploring crip queer narratives and rituals around birth, death, and suicidality. This project builds on a body of work by folks like Sins Invalid, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Mia Mingus, and many more, in talking about crip lives, climate grief, global pandemic, and the worlds we build for each other. My first two books contended with how the idea of home is often weaponized by the state and intimately tied to the violence, trauma, and loss we experience as queer and trans disabled people. Now, I am asking how home can be different, a place of safety and justice.” — Jody Chan
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