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From a Newtown Literary contributor: Tiffany Troy

Tiffany Troy's poetry was featured in issue #19 of Newtown Literary. She is a critic, translator, and poet based in Queens. She is the author of When Ilium Burns (Bottlecap Press), a bildungsroman for anyone who ever dreamed big and loved someone more extraordinary than themselves. Her reviews and interviews are published in The Adroit Journal, The Cortland Review, The Los Angeles Review, EcoTheo Review, and Tupelo Quarterly, where she serves as Managing Editor. We interviewed her about her writing, and her answers are below:

When you think of Queens, what first comes to mind?


How does Queens influence your writing?

My writing often draws from the sounds, cadences, and colors of Queens. Queens has grown to be more than home, as a way of being and thinking. Montages of sound and visual collages come to mind when I think of Queens.

Queens has the most spectacular sunrises, and I always wondered why. When I was in high school, I was told by the Metropolitan Museum educator that that was because unlike the solid Manhattan schist, the Queens sedimentary bedrock is softer and lower. Now, that doesn’t allow for the same skyscrapers; instead, it means a different kind of proximity to the sky. The moon appears brighter and clouds closer.

My characters dwell in this place where languages, animals, and plants (mainly pigeons and street trees), and the human (immigrants and new Americans) coexist side by side, in this diorama of yearning to belong.

I hope my poems can make people from my communities feel seen and mean something. It is ultimately a ballad to the underdog, and everyone who was ever told they would never make it.

What is the last piece of writing you read that made you laugh or cry (or just especially moved you)?

I am very hyped about Valerie Hsiung’s To Love an Artist (Essay Press, 2022). The poetry collection is revolutionary in the way seeing a new artistic movement in the visual arts like Yayoi Kasuma's Infinity Net series or Randy Williams' work in Just Above Midtown is moving. I love the tectonic form and fissures, and its contrast with the more meditative mode of its middle section. As Vijay Seshadri points out, poetry can often achieve a breadth in thought as capacious as the longer poetic line or prose-like form allow. Valerie’s work does that for me. I am interested in the stories poems can tell, the kind that leads down the caves and caverns of history like the best of Herodotus.

What inspires you? Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your story featured in the journal?

Cardiogram” pictures a speaker who yearns for home while inside her heart is breaking. The incantatory fragmentary form is the speaker’s way of drumming up the determination to bite back.

At the time, I was reading Sarah Arvio’s Cry Back My Sea (Knopf, 2021) and thinking about the reification of the cliché-laden heart. What about the physical heart is gooey and muscular and different from a porcelain plate? How can that give courage to a character who wants to go home but doesn't know how? Those are some moments of pondering that ends in a life-affirming brekkie. Will the girl ultimately make it?

What does your writing process/routine look like?

I write from the voice of a speaker in conversation, whether that’s with herself, objects around her or other characters. I take in the world and the sounds and thoughts crystallize into phrases and verses, at night. Ultimately my poems are performances of what feels true. It becomes a party, a true party, to borrow Dorothea Lasky’s term for it. It's a process of discovery. I want to be exciting as a poet, the way vibing with people with heart is exciting.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

I take photographs of Queens through all seasons. I also interview and profile writers in my work as a critic and editor. Talking with others opens my eyes to new ways of seeing, being, and writing, and builds community.

What writing project(s) are you currently working on?

Right now, I am working to put together my debut collection, called Jurisdiction. On the side, I’m working on an artist book of photographs, thinking of ekphrasis but also the possibilities of poetry drawn from photographs.

Thanks, Tiffany!

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