"As a writer in the rust belt, I’m quite aware that being a writer is a strange and privileged way to spend time."
It took a long time for Kingsolver to be able to write a book that goes right at the hardest parts of her home. The notion that everybody in Appalachia is hanging out on their porch, eating cornbread and drinking moonshine is certainly a stereotype, but there is some truth to it.
So it would be hard to overestimate how growing up in rural Kansas, whether you call it the Midwest or the Plains, has shaped everything that I am, let alone everything that I write—fiction and nonfiction.
"I do appreciate titles that use the terrain instead of making their characters sit inside. I also enjoy titles that reveal the parts of our region that outsiders are unlikely to see, like Homewood, Butler, or old school, residential Oakland. Yinzers don't gaze down from Grandview Avenue all day like the movies would have you believe."
"Rarely do we get to simply live our lives, to be taken for granted. Our existence in the world has to be extraordinary, and we lose our mundanity and so much of our humanness in this process."
The U.S. poet laureate on her new edited collection and how literature can mend a fractured civic culture.