So excited about this piece of creative non-ficion—Things I’ve Learned From Cultivating JoyRead More
Spent the summer in beautiful MacDowell Colony. AND! Got to celebrate Medal Day with the legendary MAUSE author, Art Spiegelman.Read More
Spring 2018 Reading at the Lannan Center at Georgetown U. Hello Lit NightsRead More
Had waaay too much fun recording The Virus podcast with the awesome crew at Threshold Studios NYC. And look, have a bonafide artist at work picture to prove it :)
I was really pleased to record this piece. I heard The Virus' protagonist in my mind very much as spoken speech, so having an oral way to engage with The Virus seems not just apt, but an enrichment of understanding this ou kerel and his story.
It was also such joy sharing the story at Caine Prize 2017 readings in London. I'm glad this podcast allows interested readers to hear it as if in person: Listen to Story on SoundCloud.
You know you are in fine company when the artwork of your Ploughshares journal features a beautiful black woman, lets call her Star, created by Tschabalala Self--a young gun whose prowess looks like the bliss that would happen if Kerry James Marshall, James Baldwin and Wangechi Mutu made a baby.
I was thrilled to receive my copy of Ploughshares, Winter 2016/17. Besides Self's gorgeous cover, I also enjoyed reading Roohi Choudhry's essay, The Undertaker's Home. Set in remote Ireland, the piece deftly asks what does it mean to belong? Where is home and its space in our memory and can homelessness be a kind of home? Pondering these questions in light of the political #NOMUSLIMBAN firestorm we barely survived this weekend brings the plight of refugees and displaced people to the fore in a fresh and tender manner.
My contribution, The Caretaker, is as much a story about forgiveness and political displacement--in time and in your very own neighborhood--as it is about rabies and rabid forces entering the communal bloodstream. The kernel for the story was inspired, like much of my work, by a conversation with my mother.
My mother's wisdom, gleaned from resisting an oppressive and fascist state, has also been much on my mind. I'm thinking a lot about art and artists as a bulwark against kakistocratic conformity and despotic control. I'm also thinking about my childhood and what living in a state of fear did to creativity, to intelligent discourse and to softer things in the mind, like dreams and memory and stories of self.
It is a dark time in America. Of that I am sure; especially after this weekend. The media is under attack, religious affiliation has become grounds for deportation and leaders of "alternative facts" are quoting George Orwell's 1984 without any of his irony. "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." And yet. And yet, I have my mother who is nothing if not light. We are light. And light reigns over every dark. Even when it's a lone, uncertain night star, light shines through the dark.
ps. I took a very dangerous (Oops--there goes all my time, not to mention #fomo) step and set up an Instagram account: @magogodimakhene. Come say hi.
pss. Ploughshares is a banging publication worthy of your fine dollars, but it's a beast to find anywhere. Hit me up and I'll gladly share a copy of The Caretaker with you.
A whole world smacked me, hot and heavy, when I arrived to Iowa City, August 2014. A world of books. I dove in atom-deep, head first, signing up for Marilynne Robinson's class, getting in, and then worrying what on God's green earth I could possibly submit. So I sat down to write.
The erratic, disturbed and lively voice of a strange Boer washed into my shores. He was a deeply wounded character but also a man who had survived it all to tell it all. I was enthralled. Writing his story, The Virus, was among the hardest and most thrilling things I've ever done. And also, the nerdiest.
I became intrigued with cyberwar listening to a 2012 panel hosted by Brown Advisory. Anne-Marie Slaughter (former Secretary Clinton advisor and author of an Atlantic Monthly article on how women (mostly white women) still can't have their cake and eat it too; "Aluta Continua" Marie Antoinette sang from her grave), lead a rich conversation about the real threats of cyberwar. I took cyberwar to its natural end: a post-apocalypse world where only the least inter-webbed continent is spared, Africa. I was quite surprised at my giddiness over all this cyber stuff. Yes, I'm a full-time proud nerd, but I don't speak Hutesse and Return of the Jeddi meant nothing to me. Sorry Lupita (Gurrrl, I know you be reading this). It only seemed right for the strange Boer in my head to unearth a buried file on cyberwar labeled, Future Use.
Then, a really funny thing happened. Paul Harding substituted for Prof. Robinson and read The Virus. He was very encouraging. When he Guest Edited Harvard Review, he asked me if he could publish the story in the 49th issue.
Paul is a rare gift on the page and in person. It's such a delight being part of his Harvard Review issue. And all the more so given the Iowa Writers' Workshop takeover happening on the Contributors' Page. I will read anything Regina Porter writes. I'd happily go through her grocery list if she let me. Margot Livesy--a great and generous spirit--is also in the issue. As is Ben Shattuck, another Iowa writer, alongside others I'm eager to discover.
If you'd like to read The Virus, you can order a copy of Harvard Review here. You can also pick up a copy at your local literary bookshop. But let's keep it 100. If $13 is all that's getting between you and supporting your girl, hit me up and we'll work it out.
And if you do read The Virus, would love to hear from you. Use the Contact form or send an email.
The thing I remember at the heart of this memory is a large old man breaking from a gathering of friends and family, beaming, making his way to shake our tiny little-girl hands. I never knew how much I'd grow to love this man's being until his soul passed on. For me, Mandela lives forever. This Salon essay celebrating Mandela's life tries to wrestle with the enormous gift of his life to me as a black South African and his legacy to the country he helped birth.
My husband and I share a love of literature. The title of this story, which appeared in a summer issue of Guernica Magazine, is part of an inside joke. Being the rock stars they are, the team at Guernica Magazine chose a shot of Regina Mundi Catholic Church as the story's accompanying image. Regina Mundi is a Sowetan institution--countless activist memorials were held there during the black plague of apartheid. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama made us all weep with beautiful words of armor for Soweto's youth.
The picture you see here is by I See A Different You--three uber cool kids who shoot unexpected treasures in and around Soweto. When I first saw this image, I was transported to another time and place in my life. Maybe one day I'll write about it. So much is communicated in the image, but what I most zeroed in on is the man on the left. The up-curled toes, the clothes that fall as if on an rusted dry cleaners' hangers, the stump in the mouth and the scowl commanding your attention. Books couldn't do this man's full story justice. So instead, I snuck him into Jesus Owes Me Money. Maybe you can guess who he plays?