Introducing Lucy Corin

Fiction writer and Associate Professor Lucy Corin

Lucy Corin is the author of the short story collection The Entire Predicament (Tin House Books) and the novel Everyday Psychokillers:  A History for Girls (FC2).

Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Tin House Magazine, New Stories From the South:  The Year’s Best and a lot of other places.  She’s been a fellow at Breadloaf and Sewanee, and a resident at Yaddo and the Radar Lab.

She holds a BA from Duke University and an MFA from Brown.  She’s an Associate Professor at University of California, Davis where she teaches in the English Department and Creative Writing Program.

Lucy agreed to answer some questions about her experiences reading work aloud, as well as some observations on her latest trip to the Associated Writers & Writing Programs Conference (AWP) in Washington D.C.

How do you feel your stories/pieces sound different when you read them out loud? Do you notice a difference in poetic speech? Do things that strike you as poetic when you write them down seem to lose meaning, or do things that seem straightforward when you write them suddenly appear poetic?

I read aloud a lot as I’m writing and revising– and that helps train me to really hear as I’m writing even when I’m not making any noise at my desk.  That’s just at the deepest core of my relationship to prose.  Reading aloud in front of people always shifts things again, though.  I can no longer ignore my own physicality.  I would like to write a piece that includes my physicality in some way.  I would like to write a piece that divorces written prose from the sound it would make aloud.  Then, wow, what would happen when I read?  Poets know these things in ways fiction writers rarely do.

Are there any writers you’ve seen read whose work didn’t interest you until you heard it out loud? What do you think made the difference?

I often have the experience of seeing someone’s name around, then hearing her read, and that making me actually look into her work.  That’s one type of experience.  Hearing Eileen Myles read entirely changed the way I read her, really taught me how to read her. That’s what I think you’re asking about– being into a writer but getting them in a whole new way when she reads.  With her it’s attitude that unifies the vicissitudes of her voice.  Then there’s what I might call a David Sedaris sort of writer.  I have read him on the page and been not interested at all– but I can like him very much on the radio– I like his stuff performed with his voice and am not so interested in the way it performs on the page without his vocal performance.  

You recently returned from the 2011 AWP Conference, where you not only read from your own work, but also read from Kate Bernheimer’s new novel The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold and at the Monster Mags of the Midwest event. How did this last experience differ from previous experiences at AWP?

Well the conference grows every year.  Ten years ago I could go and meet someone new and then bump into them again and start a conversation.  Five years ago it was huge and I felt lost and overwhelmed because I couldn’t engage in it the same way. Now I go and don’t expect to meet new people except through people I already know. I just shift what I’m there for. And I’m getting a better handle on going without comparing my level of “success” to the standards on exhibit there. I’m better at not letting all the marketing make me feel bad about my own work, better at keeping my own priorities in order, my own sense of myself as a writer.

How important do you think it is for aspiring / young writers to attend AWP or participate in conferences and events?

Well it depends on what you’re after.  I think it’s good for any aspiring writer to have the experience at least once, as an anthropological exercise, to see what that part of literary culture is like.  Remember that it represents only a slice of literary culture and community in the US.  Then to go home and try to imagine who you are in relation to it, and what it does and doesn’t have to do with your development as an artist and a reader and an intellectual.
Lucy Corin is currently working on a book of a hundred very small apocalypses and a novel about the brain. To see more of her work, visit her site at http://lucycorin.com/.

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Filed under AWP, Faculty, Fiction, Graduate Students, Reading Series

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