Friday, September 22, 2017

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down (sometimes remotely) with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Enza García Arreaza, a fiction writer and poet from Venezuela.

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

The first thing I would like to do is let go of myself and immerse in the culture of all the people that I will find in my way during the next months. I'm really looking forward to meeting my fellow residents and learning as much as possible about their lives. In the end, I think the best way to read oneself is through the contrast one acquires through others. In this sense, I want to take advantage of the distance between my country and me. Right now we are in what seems the final days of many years of conflicts and sorrows. I think that it will be convenient for me to move away to acquire new notions about the pain and the hope that I have carried for a long time. I would also like to take this time to write an unauthorized biography on Merlin and learn about the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

2 What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

In my country it is very difficult to maintain a routine of any kind on any aspect. You spend a lot of time on the street trying to find the right food or medicines for your parents. In recent years I have become a spiritual nomad, who wanders among the hours of the day looking for a den where the curses of our present circumstances do not penetrate. That requires a huge discipline that in the end is a bit annihilating as well. So I never know exactly when I will be able to write in peace, in the middle of my other affairs. But perhaps my most important routine is not to become a victim.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

These days I am reading aloud in English because I am preparing for the residency. I need my tongue to get used to it. So I'm reading Brodsky's essays and Robert Frost's poetry, both for pleasure and research.

4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

I'm a writer who tries not to take anything for granted. Perhaps I attach excessive importance to what I do when I think that reality is just another formula of fiction, but so far I have not been able to get out from that cloud. You stick to these parallel worlds and imaginary beings because it is perhaps the most civilized way of negotiating with the real world. I have a friend, Enrique Enriquez, who is also a poet, who says "writing is a way of waiting, giving time for a coincidence to find us." I agree, so I sit and wait while a witch or a forest happens to me.

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

My home is where my cats -- Orhan and Lolita-- live, and where I received the grace to learn that socialism is the name given to some killer traps. It would be appropriate to say that my country is also a beautiful place full of very good people, which in a way is true. But at the moment I would like to believe above all that we are a country that has learned from its mistakes and has finally committed itself to civilized life. In addition to oil, baseball players and beauty queens, we have a lot of people who have resisted the best they could.
This gives me much tenderness and admiration. We have beautiful beaches as well. I live on the coast. Sometimes this light puzzles me, still, in my thirties.


Thank you, Enza

Listen to Enza read this sunday, Sept 24th at 4pm at Prairie Lights Bookstore. She will be reading with Anna Kennedy!