Contributor Spotlight: Ingrid Keenan

Headshot of Ingrid KeenanIngrid Keenan’s story Twenty-Five Annunciations” 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 a skeptic with a beautiful sense of the absurd. Years ago, we saw Simone Martini’s giant altar panel depicting the Annunciation in the Uffizi Gallery. My vague memory is that my mom burst out laughing at the look Mary was giving the angel — and immediately bought a print in the gift shop which has been framed and on display in my parents’ house ever since, like some sort of reminder to be wary of pushy angels. Since then, I have been fascinated by images of the Annunciation: in so many of them, Mary looks somewhere between reluctant and appalled at the Angel’s words. Recently, I have come to understand this as a story about (non-) consent, and about the occupation of women’s bodies — especially as the Annunciation is so often co-opted by the pro-life movement. I chose 25 as the number of iterations as homage to Warhol’s Twenty-five Colored Marilyns, as I borrow his technique of reproducing the iconic until we see it in a new way.

Tell us about your writing life.

I have been writing short and long fiction for about fifteen years; prior to that I directed plays but being out every evening at rehearsal become impractical after the birth of my first child. Often my work revisits myths and fairy tales — I have written about Persephone, Eros and Psyche, Hansel and Gretel, Don Juan and Adam and Eve — and oddly, most things I write seem to include someone eating a piece of fruit at some point.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

Isak Dinesen’s advice to “write a little every day, without hope, without despair” helped get me to a regular practice of just sitting down and working without all the hand-wringing — although I’m still struggling with the “every day” part of the equation.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Women Talking, by Miriam Toews, which was astounding. Next up is Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson.

INGRID KEENAN’s stories have appeared in Room, Iron Horse Literary Review, the Indiana Review and others. She recently completed her first novel, a feminist reboot of the Don Juan myth.

Featured Image: “virgin mary statue” by thaths