The Growler

Interview with Writer John Keene

• Research in preparation for writing
• Creating a narrative truth in fiction 
• His writing process, discovering the story as he writes 
• Things that don’t go as planned 
• The ways he challenges himself as a writer 
• Advice to writers: when writing a book, write it twice 
• How being an educator has impacted him 
• How he decided on a career in writing 
• Literature tackling “taboo” subjects 

The writer John Keene is associate professor of English and African American and African studies, and teaches in the M.F.A. in Creative program, at Rutgers University. His first novel, Annotations, was published by New Directions in 1995. A collection of poems, Seismosis, in conversation with artwork by Christopher Stackhouse, was published by 1913 Press in 2006. 

He was a longtime member of the Dark Room Collective, an organization that gave greater visibility to emerging and established writers of color, and also is a Graduate Fellow of Cave Canem. In May 2015, New Directions published Counternarratives, his collection of short fiction. Publishers Weekly described the book as “suspenseful, thought provoking, mystical, and haunting.” Keene has taught at Brown and NYU, and holds degrees from Harvard and NYU.