Writer Heather Simon’s work was featured in issue #9 of Newtown Literary. We interviewed her about her writing, and her answers are below. For more of Heather’s work, check out her website.
What is your relationship to Queens?
I live in Astoria and teach writing and literature at Queens College and Queensborough Community College.
What is your favorite memory of Queens?
I think it may have been discovering Astoria as a place to live with gardens. There is something about the sprawl of the neighborhood, perhaps the proximity to low flying planes, that reminds me of where I grew up in LA.
How would you describe the writing you do?
Excessive. Then fragmented and fractured. Somewhat evasive. Most of my work combines writing and visual art. The amount of text that gets integrated into an image is heavily reduced from its original form. Even when there is no imagery, the words on the page are usually the parts that remain of larger works.
How did you come to writing?
Toward the end of college, I was in a writing class where the teacher assigned Richard Brautigan’s “Sea, Sea Rider” and I thought, I want to exist in that.
What inspires you?
The shoreline and oceanography books. Things I want to understand, like how a mollusk clings to rock or how the body forms to fit its shell. I’m also drawn to the everyday stuff. Bar and coffee shop conversations tend to resurface in my work. In terms of form, I'm inspired by interdisciplinary work like Antigonick by Anne Carson and Bianca Stone, and other kinds of genre-resistant hybrid forms.
What does it mean to be a writer in Queens?
Writing in transit. I'm writing this on the Q30. Although I live and work in Queens, nothing is easy to get to, so much of my writing is developed during the commute.
What writing project(s) are you currently working on?
Putting together a book of poetry comics. This is one thing I can’t do while in transit.
I would love any pictures you might want to share.
I’m including my poetry comic, “Workspace in Astoria”, watercolor and ink.
And, finally, my favorite question: What should I be asking you that I didn't?
Probably something super personal or inappropriate.