With Memorial Day weekend just days away, you know what that means—summer quarter is knocking at Hugo House’s door. And with a new quarter comes new instructors! Welcome to The House Lyzette Wanzer, teaching Get Invited to Read Your Work at Literary Conferences, July 12-August 2.
Lyzette Wanzer is a San Francisco writer, editor, and writing workshop instructor. Her work appears in over twenty-five literary journals, magazines, books, and newspapers. Library Journal named her book, TRAUMA, TRESSES, & TRUTH: Untangling Our Hair Through Personal Narratives, a Top 10 Best Social Sciences Book. Her articles have appeared in Essay Daily, The Naked Truth, and the San Francisco University High School Journal. Her research interests include professional development for creative writers, Black feminism, critical race theory, and the lyrical essay form.
Q&A with Lyzette
Why do you write?
I write to hobble the stereotypes and stagger the expectations of lenses through which I, as an African American woman, am so frequently viewed. I hate being automatically shelved, slotted, and categorized based exclusively on race and gender.
Do you have any writing rituals?
If I’m writing fiction, I still need to start in longhand. I can’t create fiction from scratch on a computer. So I still have journals filled with my scribble, with arrows, circles, and letter coding all over the pages. Only I can decipher the gibberish. If we’re talking about nonfiction, I can sometimes start that on a keyboard. But even then, I feel a residue of uneasiness in my stomach until I start writing longhand in a notebook or journal. Once my ideas are coming to me faster than I can scribble them down, I move to the computer.
What are you currently reading?
The Fire This Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward
Tell us about a piece of writing that really moves and/or inspires you.
When Death Comes by Mary Oliver
Where do you find inspiration?
I tend to look to visual artists as mentors, especially Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher. Unusual for a writer, I know. Their art informs my work in muted ways. One lithograph that I often have in mind when composing new work is Escher’s Relativity, in which a trio of gravitational forces function in perpendicular relation to one another. Dali’s Animated Still Life, an oil-on-canvas where the typical objects of a still life—fruit bowl, flask, wine glass—course through the air, serves as another muse. Dali has said of this painting, “The entropy of a still life is a way of amending nature.” My work give substance to space, validating my own attempts to gain triumph over tumult.
How do you get unstuck?
I don’t panic and try not to get too frustrated. For me, being stuck is a terrific opportunity to catch up on the books in my To Read pile.
Thank you, Lyzette, for being in community with us! Check out her upcoming workshop Get Invited to Read Your Work at Literary Conferences before registration opens next month.
Summer Registration Dates:
June 5: Scholarship Donation Day (Learn more.)
June 6: Member registration opens
June 13: General registration opens
Interested in teaching with Hugo House? The House puts out an open call for class submissions four times per year, approximately seven months before each quarter. Learn more here.