What are you reading on the subway or in the waiting room today?
I’m taking it back to the old school and reading I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS by Maya Angelou. I read this book when I was very young—I want to say around when I was 13 and in middle or high school, which is when I started writing fiction and terrible, horrible teenage poetry. I haven’t read the book again since, and what I realized when I did pick it up again was how influential Angelou’s prose and writing cadence was to my writing. I think somewhere, subconsciously, I remembered how she writes, and I secretly incorporated those techniques into my work.
What book popped for you in 2017 or even the beginning of 2018?
I’m a huge audio book fanatic. For me, it’s not what book popped but what book felt like a full-on performance, and there were two: Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE and Jesmyn Ward’s SING, UNBURIED, SING. THUG is literally that book that I wish existed when I was teenage girl. I feel so excited for young people growing up in this era because they have so many beautiful examples of themselves in literature and popular culture. There was nothing like this book in the eighties and nineties. And Jesmyn Ward simultaneously made me want to both write and quit writing forever with SING, UNBURIED, SING. Inspiring and intimidating.
Whose words do you return to regularly?
CANE, Jean Toomer. It is a masterpiece in my eyes and whenever I want to remind myself that it is all right to take risks, to write what you want to write, how you want to write it, I pick up CANE.
Is there an author you can’t wait to read next?
SING, UNBURIED, SING was the first book of Ward’s I ever read. I am thinking about doing a study of her full body of work. Jamel Brinkley’s short story collection, A LUCKY MAN, is burning a hole on my bookshelf, and I cannot wait to tear into that one. I also have a bunch of friends with books coming out this year and next year. I am eager to read and support them.
What are you working on now? What can VIDA fans look forward to from you next?
In addition to my latest, HOW TO SIT (Mason Jar Press, 2018), I am working on me. We just sold our house and moved into a new one. Kids are starting summer camp and then kindergarten in the Fall. I am at a place in my life where, if I think too far ahead at everything that needs to be accomplished, I might have a nervous breakdown. So, I am taking one task at a time, one day at a time, and writing in between. These little writerly sessions here and there will turn into something larger and grander but I am working hard to stay in the moment I have right now.
Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, attorney, and writing instructor. She is also an associate editor at SmokeLong Quarterly, an online journal dedicated to flash fiction. An essayist and fiction writer, her prose has appeared in several publications, including Catapult, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, and the Kenyon Review. An alumnae of the Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University, the Tin House and Virginia Quarterly Review writer’s workshops, and a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow, her collection, HOW TO SIT, will be published in 2018 with Mason Jar Press. She can be reached at tyresecoleman.com or on twitter @tylachelleco.