With the Hugo Fellows Mid-Year Reading just around the corner, we connected with our 2023-24 Hugo Fellows cohort about their work and projects, their experience working with our Writers in Residence, Ching-In Chen and Joyce Chen, and more. Hugo Fellow Cass Garison is a poet & artist, their first chapbook, Beauty Exasperated, is forthcoming through Common Meter Press in April, 2024.
Interview with 2023-24 Hugo Fellow, Cass Garison
We’re so looking forward to the upcoming showcase to see what y’all have been working on (no pressure! 😄), so tell us about your Fellowship project. How has the Fellows program shaped your work and your relationship with writing?
I am, perhaps, working on a book that is quite different from the book I planned to work on during this time. I’m unsure how to describe a book in three sentences, now two, but I’ll try: desire, perception, my body and the bodies we construct through poetry and art, desire, relational power, intimacy, desire, fear, masculinity, femininity, and, of course, again, desire. Unsure what most of those words even mean at this point, but I think that’s the thrill of it.
Tell us about working with Hugo House Writers-In-Residence, Joyce and Ching-In. What have you learned from your mentors?
Seriously could not say enough good things; the way that they orchestrate workshops and monthly meetings is the most thoughtful, provocative, nuanced way of workshopping I have ever encountered. So lucky to get to share space with Joyce and Ching-In and to get to learn from them, and absolutely the same sentiment applies to all the fellows! I always leave our meetings feeling exhilarated to persist, both in my personal projects and in deepening connections with other creators.
Tell us about the goals you established for yourself with this program, how are they going?
Goals feel like a big ask for me sometimes and I’m always caught at the crossroads between setting goals and letting myself feel out what I’m capable of and invested in at the moment. Not that the two are always contradictory. But in any case, I kept my goals vague and, until this moment, generally unrecorded: create, explore, and connect in ways that feel authentic, honest, exhilarating.
Thank you, Cass, for sharing with us about your experience as a Hugo Fellow!