E.B. Bartels

Nonfiction mafia.

Tag: women

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Alanna Okun, interviewed by Céillie Clark-Keane

Happy Valentine’s Day! Celebrate your *~*love*~* of nonfiction today with the second Non-Fiction by Non-Men interview of 2019! This one also features one of my former GrubStreet students, Céillie Clark-Keane, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with Alanna Okun! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on February 14, 2019.

Alanna Okun is a writer, editor, and crafter living in New York. She is currently a deputy editor at Vox, and she has previously worked at Racked and Buzzfeed. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesBrooklyn MagazineApartment TherapyThe Billfold, NPR, Vogue Knitting, The Hairpin, and other places. She has appeared on The Today Show and Good Morning America, as well as other local and national television and radio shows. Okun’s first book, The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater, was published by Flatiron Books in March 2018.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Céillie Clark-Keane. Céillie lives in Boston, where she she currently works as a managing editor. She has a Master’s in English Literature from Northeastern University, and her work has been published by Electric LiteratureBustleEntropyand more.

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Wellesley Writes It: Dr. Crystal M. Fleming

In case you missed it, I am back editing for Wellesley Underground as their Wellesley Writes It editor. Check out my first piece since taking over the series: an interview with Dr. Crystal M. Fleming, Wellesley ’04 and author of How To Be Less Stupid About Race.

Here’s the beginning of the interview:

Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The RootBlack Agenda ReportVoxand Everyday Feminism, among others, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author ofResurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France, which was published by Temple University Press in 2017, and How To Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide, which was published this past fall by Beacon Press. Dr. Fleming is also writing a children’s book Rise Up! How You Can Join the Fight Against Racism, to be published by Henry Holt in fall 2020.

Wellesley Underground Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Shelly Anand, and Wellesley Underground’s Wellesley Writes It Series Editor, E.B. Bartels, had the opportunity to speak with Crystal about her new book, her evolving education around race and racism at Wellesley and Harvard, and her thoughts on the state of race and racism in the U.S., France, and the world.

Crystal: Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my book and to feature it on Wellesley Underground.

Shelly: We saw people talking about it on Twitter and both E.B. and I had a chance to read it over the holidays.

Crystal: Thank you for reading it!

E.B.: Of course! I am always excited to read a book by a fellow Wellesley alum.

Shelly: We were both interested in hearing about your process for how this book came about and when you realized that you wanted to write it. How did you make this book become a reality? What sparked the idea of I need to write a book about how people need to be less stupid about race?

Crystal: The short version is after the 2016 election I was feeling a lot of things: disbelief, despair, and anger, but also really motivated to write a book for the general public. My first book, Resurrecting Slavery, was an academic book, which was based on my dissertation. That came out in 2017. And while I was really happy with that professional milestone, I didn’t want to restrict my writing to a small group of academic specialists. So, I wanted to write something for a broader audience but I wasn’t sure what it was going to be. Then, finally, the idea for How to Be Less Stupid About Race crystallized in the aftermath of the 2016 election. As you can tell from the title, it was really about me being fed up with a lot of the racial ignorance I saw across the political spectrum. After I came up with the title and the pitch, I found a literary agent (Michael Bourret of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret), wrote a chapter that spring, and then really completed the bulk of the writing between summer 2017 and early 2018.

Shelly: E.B. and I loved the book’s blend of your personal experiences, pop cultural references, and citations to academic works in sociology and critical race theory. How did you find the balance in what voice to use, as both an academic and a younger black woman on social media?

Crystal: That’s a good question.  I would say that blogging and social media really helped me bring together the academic topics with language that could, hopefully, reach more people. I’ve spent a lot of time learning how to write clearly about my scholarly work and interests on social media, where millions of people have read my writing over the years. I wanted to write beyond an academic context so my blog was a space for me to reactivate my creative writing and to share some of my thinking in public and that was very different from strictly academic manuscripts. Once I started writing on my blog, and then eventually on Twitter, I developed a new way of distilling and explaining really complex ideas.

The great thing with social media is that people will tell you what they think about what you are writing. Sometimes folks will ask you: “What do you mean by that?” That helps with that distilling and clarifying. I started getting feedback from people and what I found was that a lot of people understood what I was saying, which was pretty reassuring.

Academics usually don’t receive any special training for writing in an accessible manner, so it took me a long time to develop that skill and find my own voice.  I really wish graduate schools and doctoral programs included more opportunities to learn to write clearly so that academics can broaden our teaching and impact, but instead we typically learn to write with a lot of jargon.

Go to Wellesley Underground for the complete conversation!

P.S. If you enjoy this conversation with Dr. Fleming and you live in the Boston area, be sure to come to her talk at Framingham State University at 4:30pm on Monday, February 4, 2019! I will be there!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Maggie Nelson, interviewed by Annie Dade

Happy new year! The first Non-Fiction by Non-Men interview of 2019 is a very special one indeed: it features my former GrubStreet student, Annie Dade, as a guest interviewer, in conversation with the great Maggie Nelson! Enjoy.

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on January 9, 2019.

Maggie Nelson is a highly acclaimed poet, art critic, nonfiction writer, and professor. She is the author of several books including The Red Parts: Autobiography of a TrialJane: A MurderBluets, and The Argonauts. Her work has received much recognition including the National Book Critics Circle Award for The Argonauts in 2016 and most recently she received the MacArthur Fellowship. She currently teaches at USC in the English department.

This month’s guest Non-Fiction by Non-Men interviewer is Annie Dade. Annie is a Boston-based admirer of nonfiction, blended memoirs, and storytelling as a tool for social change. As both a student and a teacher, she has found deep appreciation for the craft in conversation with other writers whether they are third grade poets or college professors. She is grateful to speak with one of her favorite writers in this interview.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Dessa

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on November 19, 2018.

Photo credit: Matthew Levine

Dessa is a singer, rapper, writer, and proud member of the Doomtree hip-hop crew. She is the author of My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, which was published by Dutton Books in September 2018. Dessa’s writing has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Minnesota Monthly, several literary journals, and has been broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio. She has also published two short collections of poetry and essays. Dessa splits her time between Minneapolis, Manhattan, and tour vans across the country.

“‘Good and Mad’ Helped Me Understand The Woman Who Makes Me Angriest” on Electric Lit!

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on October 24, 2018.

I am proud to have another piece up on Electric Literature today, but especially this essay because EVERYONE should read Good and Mad by Rebecca Traister. Not only is the book inspiring, it also helped me figure out some of my issues with my grandmother.

A big thank you to Jess Zimmerman, for publishing me again, and to Jaime Green, for all her editorial support/feedback/encouragement on this essay!

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Hope Ewing

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on October 15, 2018.

Photo credit: Tuan Lee

Hope Ewing is the author of Movers and Shakers: Women Making Waves in Spirits, Beer and Wine, published by Unnamed Press on October 9, 2018. She has worked as a grant writer, a letter writer, a story writer, a memo writer, a screenwriter, a copy writer, and a food and drink writer. Ewing received her MFA from Columbia University, where she worked as the Web Editor of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. She likes hard cheese, soft eggs, gamey wine, California vermouth, and agave in any form. Ewing currently lives in Los Angeles.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Nicole Chung

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on September 10, 2018.

Nicole Chung is the author of All You Can Ever Know (available from Catapult on October 2, 2018), a memoir about her experience as a Korean adoptee raised by white parents. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, GQ,Shondaland, ELLE, Longreads, BuzzFeed, Vulture, and Hazlitt, among others. Chung is the editor-in-chief of Catapult magazine and the former managing editor of The Toast. Find her on Twitter @nicole_soojung.

Non-Fiction by Non-Men: Diamond J. Sharp

For the full interview, see it on Fiction Advocate.
Published on July 16, 2018.

Diamond J. Sharp is a poet and essayist from Chicago. She has performed at Chicago’s Stage 773 and her work has been featured on Chicago Public Radio. She has been published in the New York Times MagazineVicePitchforkLennyPANK, The Offing, Fjords, Winter TangerineJoINT Literary, Wellesley Review, Beltway Poetry QuarterlyBLACKBERRY and othersSharp has been an editorial fellow at The Root, a features editor at Rookie, and a staff writer for Laundry Service. Her essay “Friends for Life” and her interview with Margo Jefferson were recently featured in Tavi Gevinson’s anthology Rookie on Love. A Callaloo fellow, Sharp has also attended the Wright/Hurston workshop, and is a member of the inaugural Poetry Foundation Incubator class. She has a B.A. from Wellesley College and an M.F.A. from the Pratt Institute. Sharp lives in Brooklyn.

“I Talked to 39 Women Who Write Nonfiction, and Here’s What I’ve Learned” on Electric Lit!

For the full piece, see it on Electric Literature.
Published on July 5, 2018.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 12.37.37 PM

I am so excited to have this piece up on Electric Literature today! In my three years interviewing writers for my Non-Fiction by Non-Men series on Fiction Advocate, I have learned many helpful things from these badass women, and I hope you all will, too.

Interview with Melissa Broder on Full Stop

For the full interview, see it on Full Stop.
Published on June 26, 2018.


In a wild turn of events, I spoke with Melissa Broder about what it’s like to write (gasp!) fiction. We discussed her new novel, The Pisces, Siri as a writing tool, the greatness of dogs, plus Melissa reveals her top five favorite mythological creatures. The interview is up today on Full Stop. Enjoy!

AllisonandAJontheAT

Together hiking the Appalachian Trail from April to October, 2015!

E.B. Bartels

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Hope Ewing

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