Is your work political?
What is the place of literature in politics?
I reject the idea that any literature can really exist outside politics. (Again, I’m not talking “politics” as we tend to hear the term commercially applied, as in “what team are you on?” or “what party do you like?”) Writing in any genre–speaking up when folks would just as soon you not bother or be bothered to do that–is fundamentally political. Evoking empathy, provoking thought, noticing and elevating the hidden, forgotten, denied… all of that is political.
What is your favorite political work?
I have favorites for different reasons and moments. For today, I would say the 1974 Book Award Acceptance/Rejection Speech by Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Alice Walker.
Do you feel voting is important?
Yes. It is not everything or the only thing. But having free and open elections is not some organic, “natural” or inevitable process. Voting is the very least Americans should be expected to do to maintain our political franchise.
What are your hopes for this election?
My hope is for massive voter registration and turnout. My hope is that people will stand together against aspiring Mussolinis and baby Constantines at every level of government. It’s a low bar. But it comes first. My hope is that we can celebrate crossing that bar together–small victories are still victories when so much is at stake–and that we can rebuild back from the brink.
Jo Scott-Coe is the author of “Teacher at Point Blank” (Aunt Lute) and most recently, “MASS: A Sniper, a Father, and a Priest” (Pelekinesis). MASS received the 2020 silver medal for biography from eLit Awards. She is currently at work on a new book for the University of Texas Press, a life-in-letters of Kathy Leissner Whitman, killed by her husband in private the night before he committed the 1966 UT Austin massacre. Find Scott-Coe on Twitter @joscottcoe on FB @teacheratpointblank and on the web, joscottcoe.com.
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