Creative Writing at The New School

Basil is a southern man of transgender experience, writer, photographer, and the Executive Director of Transilient. He’s an astrology enthusiast and he grew up in rural South Carolina and was homeless queer youth at the age of 16. He cites his childhood as being a large motivator in his work. He’s been published numerous times with various outlets such as Harper’s Bazar, OUT, Buzzfeed, Refinery 29, and more. He got a BA in Creative Writing from the New School. 

To learn more about Basil visit: www.basilvaughnsoper.com

1.   Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?

People might not think that this villain is a villain at all, but I do. I believe David from Giovanni's Room could be considered a villain. David is filled with self-deception that allows him to hurt others. He doesn't recognize or accept his sexuality or even white privilege. David lives a life that he feels is based in choice because he believes that the creation of identity is a matter of decision rather than acceptance. In many ways, David's character is a reflection of white supremacist patriarchy and colonization as he goes to Europe and enters communities which he takes from rather than helps build up. David is a metaphor for how harmful a lack of self-acceptance can be. You become your worst enemy while hurting others too when you can’t look at yourself.

My favorite protagonist is the narrator in Miranda July’s short story “The Swim Team”. She’s so discerning and strange. There's not one person who I've asked to read that story and didn't absolutely love it. 

2.   When did you know you were a writer?

I knew I was a writer as soon as I could write. I started journaling at age 5 and also began writing up mock radio shows and plays that I’d record on a boom box around age 6 or 7. 

3.   What are you currently working on?

I’m working on my chapbook, “equanimity”. I’ve been submitting pieces from it and hope to submit it next Fall as a fully formed book of poems. Aside from that, I am always working on myself and creatively I am trying to bringing more of my sense of humor to my work.

4. How has your writing process changed over the years?

My writing has changed as I have changed. The more vulnerable and honest I can be with myself the better my writing is. As I have gotten older, I have gotten braver and I think a reader can hear that in my work. I used to not be able to write about certain things either: my father is a big example of that. I also believe I found true love for the first time in my life because my current partner is the first person who I am able to write love poems about. Ones that don’t feel contrived and are filled with joy. So, that’s really nice. 

5. Describe your writing style in one sentence. 

Vulnerability fueled by an ever-shifting array of insightfulness. 

Five Questions, by Nicole L. Drayton. Nicole is a writer, screenwriter and independent filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts from The New School, and currently works for the university in the MFA in Creative Writing Program office.  

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