Interview with Tyrone Williams, Author of “Adventures of Pi”

Photo Credit: Kim Hunter

Photo Credit: Kim Hunter

Brief Biography:

Tyrone Williams teaches literature and theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of five books of poetry, c.c. (Krupskaya Books, 2002), On Spec (Omnidawn Publishing, 2008), The Hero Project of the Century (The Backwaters Press, 2009), Adventures of Pi (Dos Madres Press, 2011) and Howell (Atelos Books, 2011). He is also the author of several chapbooks, including a prose eulogy, Pink Tie (Hooke Press, 2011). His website is at http://home.earthlink.net/~suspend/

Geosi Gyasi: Did you know as a child that one day you would become a writer? 

Tyrone Williams: No. I hoped for various things as a child. I wanted to be a physicist, an astronaut, a cartoonist (I was a big fan of Hanna-Barbera), a baseball player, a guitarist, all before the age of 13 when I first became interested in writing.

Geosi Gyasi: For how long have you been writing? 

Tyrone Williams: Since middle/junior high school.

Geosi Gyasi: You completed a paper on Frank O’Hara for Edward Hisrch’s Contemporary American Poetry class. Could you tell us anything we ought to know about Frank O’Hara? 

Tyrone Williams: I actually didn’t write on O’Hara–that assignment morphed into my dissertation on open and closed forms of poetry.

Geosi Gyasi: What is the most difficult part of writing? 

Tyrone Williams:  Discipline–forcing oneself to think about writing, if not write, every day.

Geosi Gyasi: When do you often write? 

Tyrone Williams: Seasonally, during the summer. Daily, primarily in the evenings and early mornings.

Geosi Gyasi: What inspired your books, “Howell” and “Adventures of Pi”? 

Tyrone Williams: Howell was my meditation on American colonialism vis-a-vis the Oklahoma bombing; Adventures of Pi was my contemplation–in part–of what it meant to live in the United States as an ethnic minority and gender majority.

Geosi Gyasi: Could you talk about your chapbooks, “AAB” and “Musique Noir”? 

Tyrone Williams: AAB and Musique Noir are parts of the book On Spec which uses the template of blues musical values to inform the problems of racial and cultural authenticity.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have specific theme(s) you often write on? 

Tyrone Williams: I’m interested in political, cultural and, increasingly, ecological problems.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you care about critics when you write? 

Tyrone Williams: No.

Available on Amazon

Available on Amazon

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have specific audience you write for? 

Tyrone Williams: I imagine an older “colored” or “Negro” generation, those of my father’s and mother’s generation, and sometimes my own “black” generation.

Geosi Gyasi: How did you get the title for “Pink Tie”? 

Tyrone Williams: That was the color of the tie my late friend, Peter Ross, gave me as a gift.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have a specific book of yours you can call your favorite? 

Tyrone Williams: No.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you earn a living from writing? 

Tyrone Williams: No.

Geosi Gyasi: What is the most boring part of writing? 

Tyrone Williams: Not writing.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you have specific interest in African-American literature? 

Tyrone Williams: I’m interested in all kinds of literature but yes, African American literature is important to me.

Geosi Gyasi: Based on what idea did you write, “Mama’s Boy”? 

Tyrone Williams: I wrote that poem about my homesickness after I moved from Detroit to Cincinnati.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you care about “style” at all when you write? 

Tyrone Williams: Not sure what “style” means here.

Geosi Gyasi: How did you decide to write poetry? 

Tyrone Williams: I don’t think any poet “decides’ to write poetry. Apparently I had an aptitude for the form.

Geosi Gyasi: Do you perform your poems? 

Tyrone Williams: If by perform you mean read, yes. If you mean do I do performance poetry or spoken word, then no.

Geosi Gyasi: What advice do you give to your students on their first day of class? 

Tyrone Williams: Read the syllabus.

Geosi Gyasi: Are you working on any new project? 

Tyrone Williams:  Yes–three different manuscripts of poetry, in various stages of completion.

END.

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