Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.
Name: Randon Billings Noble
Title of Piece published in Sweet: Bye-bye Brain
Randon recently completed her book, Be With Me Always, and is now working on a series of essays. You can find out more about her at www.randonbillingsnoble.com.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
My essay “The Heart as a Torn Muscle” was published by Brevity and listed as a Notable Essay in the Best American Essays.
My lyric essay chapbook Devotional was published by Red Bird Chapbooks.
And my debut essay collection Be with Me Always is forthcoming from the University of Nebraska Press on 1 March 2019.
Here’s a description:
“Be with me always–take any form–drive me mad! only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you!” Heathcliff begs this of his dead Cathy near the end of Wuthering Heights. He wants to be haunted –he insists on it–and oftentimes we do too. Instead of trying to exorcise the ghosts of the past, the essays in Be with Me Always stand at the window, hoping for a hand to knock, a plaintive voice to ask, “Let me in.”
Be with Me Always is a collection of personal essays that explore hauntedness–not through conventional ghost stories but by considering the way certain people or places from our pasts cling to our imaginations. In a way, all good essays are about the things that haunt us, that get under our skin and into our minds, and won’t leave until we have at least in some small way embraced or understood them. But these essays look more specifically at the ways Noble has been haunted–by a near-death experience, the gaze of a nude model, thoughts of widowhood, Anne Boleyn’s violent death, a book she can’t stop reading, a past lover who shadows her thoughts. Some of the essays are traditional in form; others are more lyric. But whatever their subject or structure, these essays invite the reader to consider the ways we are haunted–sometimes pleasantly, sometimes more bitterly–and how we can hold onto our pasts while moving into the future.
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
I recently started a new literary magazine called After the Art. We seek personal review essays that explore the way art and reading can enrich each other. You can find our first issue – and our guidelines – at AfterTheArt.com.
Who is your favorite author?
That’s a tough one. At the moment, though, I’m very fond of Maggie Nelson.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
I love Eva Saulitis’s essay collection Leaving Resurrection: Chronicles of a Whale Scientist, and David Lazar’s Occasional Desire, and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.
What inspires you to write?
Everything! As an essayist I’m always curious about what’s going on in the world, in print, on the street, and in conversation.
What is your favorite sweet?
Right now, I’m into fruits that ripen on the border of summer and fall–Zephyr nectarines and Honey crisp apples. No recipes needed–just a sharp knife or a willingness to let the juice run down your arm to the elbow.
Thank you, Randon, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!