Jenny Sadre-Orafai Recommends...

“When I was young, I had a lot of anxiety about getting lost. I asked my mom when we went somewhere if she knew where we were—do you have the map? She’d pat the fuel gauge, tell me she had enough gas and she was sure of where we were going. Maybe it’s ironic then that my favorite way to get back to writing is to do just that. From traveling to new towns to driving a different way home, what these opportunities offer is the unfamiliar. Without the usual trees and buildings, everything snaps into focus. All of it is a possibility. When I visited Truchas, New Mexico last year, I drove around in a rental car and pulled over countless times to take pictures of the mountains, the trees, and a sky that even looked different. Later, I visited a church known for magic dirt. The images I collected from New Mexico found their way into poems easily. Even the crickets singing were a sound I hadn’t heard since I was a child growing up in Houston. To enrich my writing, I’ve learned to leave what’s routine and instead, get lost in what I might not hear otherwise.”
—Jenny Sadre-Orafai, author of Malak (Platypus Press, 2017)