1st Year MFA Profiles: Jonathan Escoffery
Jonathan Escoffery is a man with nice scarves.
Name: Jonathan Escoffery
Where are you from?
The short answer is Miami, Florida, since that's the geographical location I inhabited for most of my life, though I was born in Houston, Texas. "From" is an interesting question to me, though. Somehow, I've always held nostalgia for mid-twentieth century Jamaica, my parents' Jamaica, a place that, as it has been described to me by my family in such illustrious detail, I've never really known, and no longer exists, if it ever truly did. That place survives in family gatherings, and through the food and music of our culture.
Tell us what you hear right now:
I hear the street traffic passing outside of my apartment window. I like to pretend it's the sound of waves rolling over sand. When the number 2 bus passes, my apartment shakes, and I pretend it's an earthquake.
Your writing is animal/mineral/vegetable?
To me, my writing is alphabet soup in my belly. The more I write, the fuller I grow. To others, I can only hope it is two giraffes banging their necks together at full speed.
Greatest poetry/fiction reading you ever bore witness to:
I can't recall ever hearing words sound more important than when Nuruddin Farah reads aloud, whether it's his writing being read or not.
Also, describe your headspace while you're reading something really wonderful:
While reading something I feel wonderful about I am transported out of time and space, and I lose all sense of obligation to the physical world. Reality is suspended. My body and other people's bodies are burdens I have little use for, and when I am done reading, I feel as though I've been ejected from a womb.
Describe your (physical) writing space:
I keep my favorite works of poetry and prose close at hand on a desk that is pushed against a window which looks out on a busy intersection. I alternate between writing on my laptop and an antique L.C. Smith and Corona typewriter. I have a dry erase board for plotting and lots of scrap paper and pens, which poke out of a red flower pot. I have a few shelves that either store books, or hide everything that is not book/writing-related, i.e. bills. I think of my apartment as more office than living space. Everything there more or less revolves around my typewriter. When I'm completely immersed in my writing, I don't have a very good idea of what's physically around me, at all.
Something that inspires you that isn't a writer or a piece of writing:
Assuming movies and music don't count, since they're technically written, I'd say overhearing other people's conversations can be extremely inspiring. In short, eavesdropping. People say the most delightfully absurd things on buses and in bars, and they're often times not very discrete. I'm often inspired to commemorate these absurdities in story form.
Last great/horrible thing you overheard:
On the bus, I overheard an American complaining about being treated like an "immigrant" and having to work illegally in Ireland when he moved there to escape the tyranny of the Bush(Jr.) administration.
What is the perfect height for a maitre d' and why?
It is my general belief that it's not the height of the maitre d' that counts, but the size of his or her bicycle mustache. Which, by my standards, should be sizable in both length and girth.
Links to writing/readings: