Interview with 39.4 Editor, Chelene Knight
Room: Literature, Art, and Feminism Since 1975
Interview by Rebecca Russell
The Room Collective is very excited to have you on board as the new Managing Editor. How are you adjusting to the new role?
I was super excited when I was asked to step up as Managing Editor at Room. The mentoring I received from the previous Managing Editor, Rachel Thompson, has been the most amazing experience. She is one talented woman, and has done a lot to make Room such a great place for women to raise their voices. The entire Room Collective has been super supportive and I can honestly finally say I am doing what I love. This transition isn’t easy, that’s for sure! It’s been a big learning curve for me but there are also certain aspects of the job that are pretty darn rewarding, like working with such a talented group of women who all share a passion for the literary arts. The role itself is all encompassing and I feel like a huge tree with a million branches shooting out in multiple directions, and I am finally being challenged—this is a good thing…
…What can you tell us about the collection you’re currently working on, Dear Current Occupant?
It seems as though Dear Current Occupant has been in the works all my life. I had what you could call a “tough childhood,” and I wanted to write about it as a way of healing and as a way of setting things free into the world. It turned out to be a mixed-genre compilation of sonnets, prose, short story, erasure, and more. My first book, Braided Skin (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2015), told a story of race and the struggles of being of mixed-ethnicity, and focused on belonging and place in the racial/family sense, whereas Dear Current Occupant tackles the need for “home” and “place” in terms of the physical house. In the book, the narrator is a young adult looking back on the thirty homes she’s lived in as a child. She writes to the “current occupants” of these places to reflect on her own experiences when she was living there. She learns a lot about her “self” through this process. She opens doors, she unlocks and digs up things that were buried. The book also includes photos of the actual houses in various perspectives. The photography was done by Jade Melnychuk, and Rich Riordan. I am happy to say the manuscript is in my publishers’ hands as we speak…
Read the entire interview here.