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  • Sonia Farmer


Published: Jun 01, 2013

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This week, writer, poet and small press publisher Sonia Farmer answers 20 Questions from Guardian Arts&Culture.

1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years?

Since I'm still processing it, my most inspirational moment would have to be my recent trip to Trinidad to take part in the 3rd annual NCG Bocas Lit Fest. Not only did I get to attend some thought-provoking panels and meet some amazing Caribbean writers, but I read my work and spoke about my press as a New Talent Showcase. People came up to me throughout the weekend to tell me that my work resonated with them, and that's a truly special feeling.

2. What’s your least favorite book?

I'm not a big fan of high fantasy or historical fiction in general, but what I really don't understand is this "50 Shades of Grey" fad. Come on.

3. What’s your favorite genre of literature?

Magical realism.

4. What are your top 5 movies of all time?

This is a really tough one to answer. I'd have to say in no particular order: Melancholia, Tree of Life, Inception, Hiroshima Mon Amor and Princess Mononoke.

5. Coffee or tea?

Coffee. Every morning. It is a very serious necessity.

6. What book are you reading now?

I've just finished "Archipelago" by Monique Roffey, which won the 2013 OCM Bocas Prize in Literature. It was stunning. I have attachment problems with long novels so to deal with the hole it has left in my life, and because I love her writing style, I've moved on to her memoir "With the Kisses of His Mouth". It's pretty delicious. These "50 Shades of Grey" fans need to pick it up.

7. What project are you working on now?

Right now I'm taking a break from various projects and commitments in Nassau to regroup through some travels. Poinciana Paper Press has been part of two book festivals – the OCM Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and the CUNY Chapbook Festival in New York City – in order to reach a wider regional and international audience. Between now and the end of July, I'll take some book-binding and papermaking workshops in New York City, London and finally Italy. It's an exciting trip that will help me focus the mission and future of my work through Poinciana Paper Press.

8. What’s the last book that surprised you?

I started Miranda July's latest book, "It Chooses You", thinking it was another collection of short stories like "Nobody Belongs Here More Than You", but it was actually a collection of off-the-wall interviews with people who were selling used items through the classifieds. It sounds strange, but the interviews with their accompanying images were absorbing. They made an important contribution to her artistic process for her last film. I found that honest documentation of the process of inspiration really fascinating.

9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots?

I truly have no serious Junkanoo alliance, but I do enjoy Junkanoo in general.

10. If you had to be stranded on one Family Island which one would it be?

This is a tough one since I've not formed a close bond with many Family Islands. I don't think I can give an honest or informed answer.

11. What’s the most memorable book you’ve ever read?

The artist books by Maureen Cummins. She came to Pratt Institute to share her work during my first semester in the writing program. I had never heard of book arts, but I somehow found my way to a library in Harlem that held two of her books – "The Business is Suffering" and "Stocks and Bonds". I loved the experience of seeing important sociopolitical narratives unfolding in a book form through the use of repurposed material, printmaking and binding – not only in those books but also through "The Flag Project", "Crazy Quilt" and "Femme Fatale" that we saw during her presentation. Her work taught me that art is a powerful tool for telling marginalized or forgotten stories.

12. Which writer do you have a secret crush on?

It's not so secret. Junot Diaz, will you marry me? A girl can dream.

13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?

All of my grandparents, who are now gone from this world. I'd like the chance to speak honestly with them about their stories.

14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history?

All artists practicing in every form, either at home or abroad – past, present and future.

15. Who is your favorite living writer?

Louise Gluck. Her work inspires me to think about other possible voices and narratives in traditional stories and mythologies.

16. Sunrise or Sunset?

Sunset and the few moments of twilight afterwards.

17. What role does the writer have in society?

To open up worlds of possibility – the possibility of finding stories within the stories and worlds we think we already know.

18. What’s your most embarrassing moment?

There are a lot of these, mostly from speaking before thinking, that thankfully I've repressed – my hope is that whoever was around to hear it has also repressed it out of embarrassment for me. Following those, I am always mortified when I overlook glaring typos from the most official letter to the most basic text message. I once canceled a date with someone who sent me the text message, 'C U 2morrow.' I bet Junot Diaz doesn't do that. Also, I overshare. Lots of embarrassment to go around.

19. What wouldn’t you do without?

My parents! Without them, I'd be a (bigger) mess. They gave me – and continue to give me – confidence in my creativity and support in my creative pursuits.

20. What’s your definition of beauty?

When something – a thought, a word, the way the light falls – jars you out of your ego for one brief moment, enough to remember that everything is bigger than your concerns. And not to feel afraid of that, but just grateful to be a part of it.

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