5Q Interview: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya), 2017 IWP resident

The Writing University conducts is a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the International Writing Program's fall residency. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

Today we are talking with Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, a fiction writer from Kenya.

1. Do you have a plan or project in mind for your time at the residency?

Finalising the edits of the second novel, 'The Dragonfly Sea', Working on the preliminary chapters of third novel, working title ‘Tizita’.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

The fantasy routine is leaping out of bed at four a.m, exercise, meditate, enter the dojo of the creative process, settle in the realm of story, re-emerge, calm and cool with ten thousand perfect words a day at nine pm ... The actual routine is offer burnt sacrifices at five past midnight to creative muses praying for pity, having rolled out of bed early, true, but spent about four hours looking at Facebook (to keep up with the world and solve its problems), clean out the desk (again; cleanliness is next to Godliness), called up a distant acquaintance now living in Kazakhstan (friendships must be sustained at all costs), repainted my toe nails (blue is so last year), returned to Facebook, Aljazeera, and BBC for news updates and the effects my interventions on the world, regretted that the elves from the fairy tales I believe in have not yet emerged to complete the novel, and the six essays I intended to finish today, spend time thinking about elves while wandering through meadows (how did I get there) to commune with nature and greet cows….and then it is two minutes past midnight.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

Hemmingway's 'Death in the Afternoon'. Read for both.

4. What is one thing the readers and writers of Iowa City should know about you and your work?

That they shall figure out for themselves!

5. Tell us a bit about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, rooted in its landscape and therefore an in-between being who roams a complex ‘transit zone city where anything-can-happen, and it often does. It is the home of my spirit, even though (as in-between people do) I have so many other spaces of belonging in other sites of the world. Home is possibility, it is entire worlds condensed into a square mile, it is human, it is five ecosystems along a single road so you can encounter many selves within the one. Home is looking back at skyscrapers next to a wild giraffe you have just offered pellets. Home is the masklessness of death-as-companion, and the limitlessness of life as lover. Home is fecund colour and deep, head-thrown-back, belly laughs of the kind I have heard in few other places of the world.

***

Thank you so much, Yvonne!

Check the IWP website for events that will include Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor throughout the residency.