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: Zoe Bossiere
Title of Piece published in Sweet: American Spirits
Zoe mostly spends her time studying Creative Nonfiction and teaching undergraduate writing at Ohio University. You can find out more about her at http://zoebossiere.com.
What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?
Sweet was among my first publications (Thank you, Ira!), and a lot has happened since then. I earned my MFA in creative nonfiction in 2017 and was accepted to Ohio University’s Ph.D program that same year. Now, in addition to being a student, I’m the managing editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, and a podcast host for the New Books Network, where I interview new authors about their debut books.
Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?
Sure! I’ve spent the better part of the last couple years working on a memoir about my family’s experiences as sea lion trainers in the 1984 Hungarian traveling circus. Some of this story is speculative, pieced together through the various artifacts my parents have kept over the years such as letters home, photographs, circus posters and leaflets, ephemera and tickets, audio recordings of the animals and circus band, and several in-person interviews. It’s been a lot of fun to revisit this period of my familial history and think about how what they experienced then relates to what’s happening with the circus now, what with the closure of Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. The times are changing, and the question seems to be how (and, perhaps, if) the circus will adapt for its survival.
Who is your favorite author?
This is a difficult question, but I’d probably have to go with Annie Dillard. She’s been a favorite of mine since I was a child. My father used to read chapters from An American Childhood aloud to us after dinner and now, as an adult, I have Dillard’s entire nonfiction canon (and a good bit of her poetry) on my bookshelf.
What is your favorite poem/essay/book?
I don’t know that I have a favorite. There are just too many good books coming out all the time! Right now, I’m reading Rachel Z. Arndt’s essay collection Beyond Measure, and I’m looking forward to Erica Trabold’s Five Plots in November.
What inspires you to write?
Different things at different times in my life, but right now I find myself writing (and reading) the most about the big, unanswerable questions I have about our world right now—especially as these pertain to identity and politics. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Simone de Beauvoir, and her idea that to involve oneself in projects that have the potential to help others is a moral imperative. I guess the equivalent in the writing world would be to become a good literary citizen, and there’s a great piece by Ander Monson from the Essay Daily advent calendar I keep coming back to called “On Paying Attention” that speaks to this idea better than I could here.
What is your favorite sweet?
In my original bio for Sweet, I think mentioned that I loved flan. This still holds up, and I’m not particular about the style. I like the soft, buttery flan they make in France just as much as the thick richness of Mexican flan, and all its variants, too—crème caramel, crème brûlée, custard.
Epicurious says this recipe is the perfect flan. Quick, someone make it and tell us if you agree!
Thank you, Zoe, for taking the time to reconnect with us. We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!