Keisha Bush was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts and currently lives in East Harlem. She received her MFA in creative writing from The New School, where she was a Riggio Honors Teaching Fellow and recipient of the NSPE Dean's scholarship. She is currently a participant in Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency 2018-2019. She has received fellowships from the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, Moulin à Nef in France, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Vermont Studio Center. Her debut novel, No Heaven For Good Boys, is forthcoming with Random House.
1. Who is your favorite villain, and who is your favorite protagonist in literature?
My favorite villain is Oedipus because he is tragically both villain and hero, and more often than not, we are caught in similar conundrums in our lives. We all feel like him at some point in our lives, if not every day.
My favorite protagonist is the narrator in Rilke’s Duino Elegies. I am in constant exchange with the angels, and the protagonist in the Elegies captures the unnerving, and nagging, question of my life, “Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?” I keep a copy of the Rilke’s Elegies close by for spontaneous readings. My other favorite protagonist is Caesar. How I wish I had been there, to be that one friend Caesar needed. Every time I read those pages I will him to stay home, but he always goes to the meeting. Damn you, Brutus, for being weak.
2. When did you know you were a writer?
I have an exercise I do every couple of years when I am feeling unsure, or insecure, about myself and my writing practice. In the middle of the day, I decide to give up writing for good and go get a bonafide, 9-5 (slave) job like I used to have, some years ago. The thought then causes a severe onslaught of nausea, anxiety, depression, and shortness of breath, driving me to the edge of some sort of melt-down as pain sears through my heart. I then realize that I have no option but to continue to write so that I can live to see the next day.
3. What are you currently working on?
I’m lucky enough to have been accepted to the 2018-2019 Workspace Residency program generously offered through the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, so I have long days of looking out across the Hudson River to ponder and scheme, in my own private studio. Currently, I am working on a dystopian world in which there are black people. I’m also working on a visual arts project related to a separate novel I recently completed. The goal of this project is to marry visual arts, literature, and performance together in the same space, simultaneously engaging the narrative thread of the story in a three-dimensional manner in an attempt to mirror how we live and engage, with one another.
4. How has your writing process changed over the years?
I don’t stress about the times I am not writing. Life is very busy for me and I don’t have the luxury to sit and write every day, and that is fine. Instead, I write in bursts and when the rabbit hole opens, I know I can jump in and dive all the way down because within the dark it is so bright. These “bursts” can last from three weeks to seven months depending on how long the initial draft takes, so it varies with each project.
5. Describe your writing style in one sentence.
I attempt to push beyond boundaries: bending structure, narrative, and genre at any, and every, chance I can find within my work.
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.