Last Thursday I woke up feeling uptight. I had an interview scheduled at 9:30 AM with the Selection Committee for a residency I had applied for.
The previous evening I had practiced my responses about my current writing project (a proposal submitted with my application) and answers to questions about my publications/CV, if asked.
At 9:30 on the dot, the phone rang. I could tell from the hollowness on the other end of the line I was on a speakerphone. After committee member introductions, the interview began. It was unlike any other I had had. The first question: “What in your background or history has made you an artist?”
My mind went blank. I hadn’t expected such a complicated opening question. I made a joke, they laughed and then I answered as best as I could. (I don’t refer to myself as an “artist” but as a writer, but in these situations I use the language they use.) The questions continued in this conjectural vein: what is the function of the artist in society? And so on.
I’ve applied for many residencies based on my poetry. But for this one, I proposed working on my novel (a first.) The required portfolio (a selection of work) I submitted was Chapter 3. So far, they are the only people to read these rough draft pages.
Anyhow, I’ve been accepted and will be an Artist-in-Residence at Green Olive Arts in Tetouan, Morocco from May 9 — May 21st. I will leave Paris on May 7th and make my way to Tangier in Northern Africa, then over to Tetouan, one of the larger port cities on the Mediterranean Sea. It’s an ancient city with origins that date to the 13th century. It has a current population of about half a million people.
This residency is multidisciplinary, like the one in Finland, so I’ll have the opportunity to work alongside visual artists and other writers. The creative exchange is one of the significant benefits of a residency, along with the support and space to focus on my work.
I will post pictures here, of course, as well as write about my experiences in Morocco, so stay tuned.