Justin Sherwood is the author of various poems and essays, including the poetry chapbook Low Theory (Seven Kitchens Press, 2016). He is a graduate of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at The New School, where he was selected for the 2012 Paul Violi Prize in Poetry. He has taught various craft sessions and literary salons at the Summer Writers Colony, including this summer's "How Should A Writer Be?"
1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
I insist on framing "literature" broadly so that I can say that The Vixen, from the current season of RuPaul's Drag Race, is my favorite villain. She changed the narrative of what it means to be cast as a villain on reality television in such a stark and necessary way that queer critics will be writing and thinking about her for years to come.
I'm currently reading book four of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, so I'll name Elena Greco as my favorite protagonist. I tend to over-identify, so that character has caused several existential crises for me as of late.
2. When did you know you were a writer?
I knew I was a writer in the fifth grade, when I asked my teacher to read a poem I had written. She came back to me a few hours later with a typewritten copy of the poem that she had produced over her lunch break, and insisted that I present it to my mother. As I recall, the poem was called "Poems" (ars poetica at 11!)
3. What are you currently working on?
Personally, an interminable essay tentatively titled "Annihilation" about queers, love, and death. Professionally, lots of "branded content."
4. How has your writing process changed over the years?
I have become much less precious about it! I will take what idea comes to me, when it comes, how it comes, with gratitude.
5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.
To borrow from Elizabeth Bishop, "precipitate and pragmatical."
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.