Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Dustin Pearson

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these fiction writers you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Dustin Pearson

is the author of Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018) and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. He won the Academy of American Poets Katharine C. Turner Prize and holds an MFA from Arizona State University. His work appears in Blackbird, Vinyl Poetry, Bennington Review, TriQuarterly, and elsewhere.

Here are some links:








The Interview

  1. When and why did you begin to write poetry?

It was the fall semester of 2010. It wasn’t my intention to write poetry. I was convinced I was going to pursue fiction writing for my creative writing minor at Clemson University, but I couldn’t register for the advanced fiction workshop because it was full. I remember someone telling me that regardless of the genre of the prerequisite course I took, I could still complete the minor with an advanced workshop in poetry or fiction, but I still wasn’t enthused until I saw a presentation by the teacher of the advanced poetry workshop—in addition to her writing in both genres, I was mesmerized by her writing. Even then, though, I knew I had a challenge on my hands.

  1. Who introduced you to poetry?

I’d say I wasn’t truly forced to take the study of poetry seriously until I took Dr. Manganelli’s Critical Writing About Literature course. I didn’t take the writing of poetry seriously until I took Dr. Weise’s poetry workshop, and that was after being nudged by Dr. Manganelli to take the poetry workshop with Dr. Weise in the first place.

  1. How aware were and are you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I wasn’t at all aware that there was such a thing as a contemporary poet back when I first started my undergraduate career. I knew Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Gwendolyn Brooks as important names and figures attached to fights for social justice, but I probably couldn’t even have had a coherent two-minute conversation about poets or poetry world’s dynamics, and what an injustice that kind of thing was.

These days I’m at a point where I often get to meet and learn from “older poets.” I’m not sure that I see their presence as dominating, but I do have a kind of reverence for them and take comfort that their presence is esteemed and recognized.

  1. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have a routine so much as a very powerful brain and an even wilder imagination. The poems I write swirl in my head and come into higher resolution over time and so in that way I imagine I’m always writing.

  1. What motivates you to write?

The desire to bend the reality of the world into one I can understand multi dimensionally.

  1. What is your work ethic?

The thing that runs me down the most, makes me exceedingly anxious and ambitious, makes me age prematurely, and the thing that would make me sad that I had if life moved at a pace that truly encouraged something other than work.

  1. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I’m not exactly sure. I imagine that the writers I read and enjoyed when I was young helped to nurture my imagination and larger thinking back then, and I feel that I’ve retained a large part of my younger self, so perhaps they contributed to the survival of the writing spirit I rely on today.

  1. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I admire all of the writers who are, in some way, still writing toward a better, more accessible, and more community-based world, who are, against all of the psychological and material stresses, not giving up. I haven’t been able to eradicate from my mind that today’s writers are writing up against the end of the world. There’s a hope there that will always be admirable.

  1. Why do you write?

Because there’s so much more to be said about everything, because I can’t let anything go, and because I’m still alive and hoping the writing might bring me into contact with some version of my ideals.

  1. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

People are already reading you. Every day they’re getting it right, getting it wrong, getting it somewhere in between, so you’re already a writer. If you want people to recognize you as that, all you need to do is put a version of that acknowledgment “on paper” and post it somewhere people will see it.

  1. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’m writing about friendship and two brothers working their way through Hell without each other. Both projects are beautiful.

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