Episode 18: Zinzi Clemmons

Author photo by Nina Subin.

Author photo by Nina Subin.

Episode 18

Zinzi Clemmons was raised in Philadelphia by a South African mother and an American father. She is a graduate of Brown and Columbia universities, and her writing has appeared in Zoetrope: All-StoryThe Paris Review DailyTransition, and elsewhere. She is a cofounder and former publisher of Apogee Journal and a contributing editor to Literary Hub. She has been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and Dar al-Ma’mûn in Marrakech, Morocco. Clemmons lives in Los Angeles with her husband.

Special thanks for this episode to the Detroit Foundation Hotel and the Shady Ladies Literary Society.

Discussed In This Episode

Autofiction. "We're expected as people of color to be spokespeople for our race." Diversity in publishing. How do we define experimental literature? Using white space, charts and other media in writing. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report. Writing as "a cycle of guilt and action." Cutting away the obvious. Knowing your limitations. "It's almost a matter of physics: You can't be writing and participating at the same time." 

Recommended Reading

What We Lose, Zinzi Clemmons
"Uses For This Body," Zinzi Clemmons
"Where Is Our Black Avant Garde?", Zinzi Clemmons
The Writing Life, Annie Dillard
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
The Argonauts, Maggie Nelson
Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin
Octavia Butler
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison

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Courtney