Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jackson Taylor

Jackson Taylor is the Associate Director of The New School's Graduate Writing Program, which he helped launch, and where he teaches. For more than fifteen years he has been the Director of The Prison Writing Program at PEN American Center. His short fiction has appeared in Spit, Pink, Moss and Punk, and his poems have appeared in Lit, Sleeping Fish, Witness, and others. For three years he worked at the New York Times in the Culture, Arts and Leisure, and the National desks.

His new novel is The Blue Orchard.

From a Q & A at his publisher's website:

You say in the novel’s afterword that if you had known it would take you a decade to complete The Blue Orchard, you might never have started it. What kept you working on it all those years?

The inherent mystery was an engine. It had momentous strength and pulled me along. Perhaps others who have pursued family secrets will know what I mean, and perhaps the reader while turning the pages of the book will sense some of the curiosity and excitement I felt while making discovery.

The Blue Orchard is based on your grandmother’s life. Why was it important for you to share Verna’s story?

The lives of people we come from are filled with exquisite, concrete clues that can be examined to understand childhood, the world, and ourselves, and to recognize how many ways we resemble the rest of our species. The study of the real record adds perspective to the ways anyone might look at the youth of their parents or grandparents.

During the years of research, the historian’s voice in me kept questioning: How? Why? My grandmother wasn’t easily impressed by people, so I wanted to know the nature of this man who’d earned so much respect.

Verna overcame many obstacles to rise from poverty and become an independent woman of means. How unique was she for the time?

I like to imagine that...[read on]
Read more about The Blue Orchard.

--Marshal Zeringue