Category Archives: Ocean State Summer Writing Conference

A Conversation With Kenny Fries

Featured nonfiction writer at this year’s Ocean State Writing Conference

Kenny Fries author photo
Photo Credit Michael R. Dekker

by Elizabeth Foulke

In his most recent memoir, In the Province of the Gods, Kenny Fries recounts the time he spent in Japan. There are echoes of his earlier work, as Fries continues to examine what it means to adapt –in this case to an unknown place and culture, as well as to illness and loss. Throughout the memoir, Fries reflects on how to remain malleable in the face of the unexpected.

Kenny Fries is the author of two previous works of literary nonfiction, The History of my Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory and Body Remember. His works also include the poetry collections, In the Garden of Japan, Desert Walking, and Anesthesia. Fries is the editor of Staring Back, a collection of writing by authors with disabilities and wrote the libretto for the opera, The Memory Stone.

This June, I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Fries, who lives and works in Berlin. Fries expertly weaves together folklore, scientific theory, and poetry with questions of social policy and the construction of space as they intersect with disability. Our conversation explores his craft, adaptation, Japan, and the continued need to incorporate marginalized voices into our cultural narrative. Below is an excerpt of the interview. The full interview can be found in the print version of the recent edition of The Ocean State Review.

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2014 Ocean State Summer Writing Conference: Keynote Speaker Percival Everett Shares His Latest Work

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Percival Everett, author of 28 books and Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Southern California read on Friday, June 20th as a keynote speaker for our annual Ocean State Summer Writing Conference.  Everett is a former mentor and close friend to one of URI’s Creative Writing faculty, Josie Sigler Sibara, who introduced Everett.  Sibara became friends with Everett during her doctoral program at the University of Southern California, despite never having taken a class with him.  Sibara recalls her frustration with narrative and form at the time, quoting Everett’s advice: “No one even knows what a novel is.  That’s the beauty of it.  Just follow yourself in.”

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