Our most recent episode of The Archive Project features a conversation between 2020 Oregon Book Award winners Kesha Ajose Fisher and Ashley Toliver, lead by Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani.
Below, Mojgani shares his thoughts on preparing for this discussion amidst the current climate of disruption and unrest in Oregon. Their conversation is a bright spot at this moment: Creative minds sharing their processes, and supporting each other.
Listen to the full episode on our website here.
From Anis Mojgani: A couple months ago, I was conversing with a writer friend of mine, a poet like myself, and one of the things we touched on is how one of the most challenging things right now with the world and our nation’s current state, is that the pandemic has required us to shift from time outwardly to more time with our interior self.
And however it is that we are all individually going about that, this is a moment in our history where, due to the forces at play, we have all been pushed to spend time with ourselves in a manner that for some of us, we might have no prior experience doing.
Whether we are being forced this task or allowed this gift, this opportunity to engage with internal conversation is the thing that artists–and I think particularly writers as they work in the medium of words–must be in practice and discipline with all the time. And so, as many of us are greeted with this perhaps new challenge of turning to ourselves and sharing that internal time, I do think that perhaps there is much we can learn in turning to those who have already spent so much time doing this very thing.
This opportunity to engage with internal conversation is the thing that artists–and I think particularly writers as they work in the medium of words–must be in practice and discipline with all the time.
What does it mean to be with oneself? What does it mean to speak to oneself? What does it mean to listen? And to respond in turn, both to ourself and to the world at large, when many of the things that once took up space blocking out that internal voice are no longer there speaking?
A few weeks ago, I had the wonderful good fortune of getting to share my morning from afar with Kesha Ajose Fisher and Ashley Toliver, two writers here in Portland. This was six months into the Covid-19 reality, three and a half months of the Portland protests, and four days into our city essentially shut down by toxic smoke blowing in from the Oregon climate fires, with still four more days of being unable to step outside of our homes due to fires raging across the cities and communities of the state we call home.
I did not know what we might find ourselves talking about, but I was excited to open the door and have the opportunity to listen to what these two humans had to share about their lives and their art. And as they both happen to be writers, women, Black, and mothers, I was looking forward to what many of us might gratefully be gifted from hearing the two of them talk, in this world which we are all currently trying to weather the best we can.
What does it mean to be with oneself? What does it mean to speak to oneself? What does it mean to listen?
So I started how anything unsure might begin in a city surrounded by flames: With a good morning and asking Kesha and Ashley how they were both doing amongst the smoke…
Listen to this episode of The Archive Project on our website here, or download it where ever you get your podcasts. The Archive Project airs on OPB Radio on Sundays at 7:00 p.m., and can always be streamed online.