Contributor Spotlight: Nahal Suzanne Jamir

headshot of Nahal Suzanne Jamir

Nahal Suzanne Jamir’s essay We Have All Been Dead is featured in Issue 77 of the Bellingham Review

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

My mother is very, very present in my fiction and nonfiction. This is the piece where I love her the most, not because she’s beautiful or sweet or loving. I feel here, in this piece, I understand her best. Her many flaws seem peaceful—and she and I both are at peace with them, though I’m sure we could fight about that too. The essay began for me with that last image, the juxtaposition of a garden and respite with the hardness of stone and one with blood on it. The image is a real one, which I plan to explain in another essay, the last of this same collection that I’m working on.

Tell us about your writing life.

I write when I want and how I want. For years, I’ve listened to (well-meaning) writers more established than I am tell me and others that we need a schedule. Well, I don’t. I also don’t need or want extended scenes, narrative coherence, or a clear/consistent narrative voice. I’m perhaps too rigid and “scheduled” in other aspects of my life so I really, really don’t need to be with my writing. I can be chill with my muse, who is, if anyone cares, a true hippie. Beware the danger of believing that one process or type of story works for everyone. (I say this not having made a lot of money, so take it with that particular grain of salt…)

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

Poetry, the contemporary multicultural poetry that has breathed life into literature in the recent past, has breathed life into my writing. It’s inspiring to see and hear the voices that are so similar to mine, that have such similar joys and dangers and heartaches.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

“Write for one person who you love.” But now, I’ve flipped it: “Write for one person who loves you.” I think writing with the assumption of love (which is attention, empathy, care, etc.) is super important.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writers?

Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, Franny Choi, Fatimah Asghar, sam sax, Hanif Abdurraqib… that whole squad.

What are you reading right now?

Indictus by Natalie Eilbert. Amazing piece of feminist poetry.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

A collection of essays like this one, including this one.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I just recently discovered (real) apple cider, and it’s delicious. I can deal with the Midwest. (Plus, no hurricanes!)

Where can our readers connect with you online?

Suzanne Jamir on Facebook
@n.suzannejamir on Instagram
@nsjamir11 on Twitter.

NAHAL SUZANNE JAMIR’s work has previously been published or is forthcoming in journals like Beloit Fiction Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Crab Orchard Review, Meridian, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Her short fiction collection In the Middle of Many Mountains was published by Press 53 in 2013. She is a graduate of the creative writing program at Florida State University and now teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Featured Image: “Teal Cottage Garden” by Marc Dalessio