Postcards to the Future: A Protest in Place / LEGACY
Erica Hunt interview
Erica Hunt was interviewed by Dr Stephanie Troutman, at Tucson’s KXCI Community Radio Congress Street Studio in October 2018 when she and three other contributors to the anthology, Letters to the Future: Black Women / Radical Writing (including co-editor Dawn Lundy Martin, Ruth Ellen Kocher, giovanni singleton) were in town for the Kore book launch events. This is an excerpt from the full interview, which will air as part of a Letters to the Future podcast in the fall, where Erica and Stephanie discuss the importance of intergenerational legacies—both literary as well as community and activist legacies—of radical Black women writers.
Gratitude to KXCI Community Radio for their partnership in helping us collect the LTTF audio interviews.
Erica Hunt on legacy and Black women writers
“It’s interesting: When we look at people like Lucille Clifton, or Sonia Sanchez, Jane Cortez—these writers, these Black women, are very dear to me, and I feel like the way they get anthologized, typically, or represented in African American literature, often reduces them to a single dimension. So, we don’t really get that they were very complex, risk-taking, and multidimensional people—who worked across disciplines and across art forms, who did organizing, and were theorists of their own experiences, as well as inventors of their own lives in ways that we could use right now, as models. So that intergenerational piece that you’re describing is crucial, and to present them in relation to younger writers with their literary and writing practices is helpful. Why? Because it suggests that the “Cannon Lucille Clifton,” the “Cannon Jane Cortez” is not all that there is, and that their devotion to writing as an emancipatory practice—I always say “we rehearse things in writing,” we rehearse thoughts that we would not quite say in the same way. Writing is an imaginal space that allows us to try out and risk and flex a kind of muscle, intellectually, that we would not do in the course of ordinary experience, that’s what the art space does. These elders show us that they are the complex figures that we can emulate in our own time, in our own means. Sometimes—often—there’s trauma. The articulation of those traumas—I am thinking about intergenerational differences—when I was coming up, we didn’t talk about our traumas this way, and in fact from my mother’s generation, that wasn’t even a whisper of how they dealt with, or experience they may have had that was traumatic or that may have been assaultive. So that intergenerational dialogue is crucial because each of us, in some ways, is taking it further than the next, we hope.”
Letters to the Future: Black Women / Radical Writing.
Erica Hunt is a poet, essayist, and author of Local History (Roof Books, 1993) and Arcade (Kelsey St. Press, 1996), Piece Logic (Carolina Wren Press, 2002), Time Slips Right Before Your Eyes (Belladonna*, 2015), & A Day and Its Approximates (Chax Press, 2013). Her poems and non-fiction have appeared in BOMB, Boundary 2, Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetics Journal, Tripwire, Recluse, In the American Tree and Conjunctions. Essays on poetics, feminism, and politics have been collected in Moving Borders: Three Decades of Innovative Writing by Women and The Politics of Poetic Form, The World, and other anthologies. Hunt has received awards from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, the Fund for Poetry, and the Djerassi Foundation and is a past fellow of Duke University/University of Capetown Program in Public Policy.
Past writer in residence in the Contemporary Poetics/Creative Writing program at the University of Pennsylvania, and at Bard College’s MFA program, Hunt has taught at Wesleyan University and was a repeat faculty member at Cave Canem Retreat, a workshop for Black writers from 2004 to 2015.
Erica Hunt’s interview is part of KPI’s small experiments of radical intent series: Postcards to the Future: Protest in Place / LEGACY, to uplift and celebrate Black women’s voices, July 202 into 2021. Navigate through this series by following the tag Postcards at left.