The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.
Today we are speaking with Inés Gallo De Urioste. Inés Gallo De Urioste, aka Lolita Copacabana, is an Argentinian writer, editor, translator and author of Buena Leche - Diarios de una joven [no tan] formal (2006) and the novel Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (2015). In 2017, she was included in the Hay Festival’s ‘Bogotá 39,’ a list of 39 outstanding new Latin American authors. She co-directs Momofuku, a small publishing house in Argentina, and is a candidate for an MFA in Spanish Creative Writing at the University of Iowa.
1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for the next semester?
I am currently working on the second draft of a new novel, Mi descubrimiento de América, a project I've been on for about two years, and that has benefited a lot from the program. It's a work of autofiction in which, through an exploration of various registers and genres, I tell the story about my first year as a student here in Iowa City. While drawing hypothesis about the future of literature and challenging the basis of patriarchy—of course. Right now I'm not even sure where in the world I'll be living come August, but I'm certain I'll be wanting to channel my creative energies on that.
2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?
I've done a lot of unfruitful thinking about my creative process in the past, and lately I've come to the conclusion that throught my life only two things about it have been constant: struggle and change. I guess a good way to sum it up is to say that the ways in which I've managed to conjure the conditions in which writing can happen have varied a lot. But writing is, for me, always a product of deep reflection. Although I spend an enormous amount of time editing (I've usually memorized most of a piece by the time I am done), I spend even longer figuring out how to get there. By the time I arrive to the first sentence of anything, so much of this "figuring out" has taken place that the act of proper writing flows comparatively much easier. Once the tone, point of view and character are clear to me, once the semantics of a universe have been pin-pointed, the rest is less of a challenge; if unobstructed, it takes place way faster. And then: mornings, definitely. Maybe four or five hours a day. Editing is done after lunch.
3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I've been reading for research for almost three years now, with very few exceptions. This past one most of the things I've been exploring and revisiting are autobiographical pieces, many of them travel narratives, many by non-native writers in and about North America, mostly but definitely not limited to the 20th Century. Among my favorites: Francis Trollope, François-René de Chateaubriand, Vladimir Maiakovsky, Simone de Beauvoir, Cesare Pavese, Jean Baudrillard, Ricardo Piglia... Plenty of American scholars, too. For a while I even became imaginary friends with someone called Percy G. Adams. Now I finally feel I'm ready to take a break, and there's a huge pile of books, mainly written by women, that I'm looking forward to reading for pleasure this summer.
4. What is something the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?
We're in progress.
5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share with us about your home?
I'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I hereby confess that what I've missed the most since I've been gone, apart from my daily dose of yerba mate and dulce de leche, is my dialect: Rioplatense Spanish. From what I hear, it's one of the most prominent ones to employ voseo in both speech and writing, and (because of the huge amount of Italian immigration we've historically had) it's often spoken with an intonation resembling that of the Neapolitan language. It was only after over a year of humble and fond exploration of the myriad of idiosyncratic twists Spanish englobes that I found myself preciously rediscovering, when visiting Buenos Aires, the cherished nooks and crannies I'd previously taken for granted in that unique southernmost language that, to me, spells "home". ♡
Thank you so much for talking with us today, Inés!