Our Beautiful Reward Mini-Interviews: Juliana Roth

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To celebrate the official print release of Our Beautiful Reward on March 16th (virtual release party Sunday the 19th, you’re invited!), I asked some of the contributors a few of the questions foremost on my mind. It’s been too long since we’ve run many interviews here, and I’ve missed it; getting to know writers and how they think and feel has been one of the most rewarding aspects of Reckoning for me since the beginning. I hope their answers prove as enlightening to you as they have been to me.

We’re posting one mini-interview a day til we run out—today it’s Juliana Roth, whose poem “Roses in Washington Square Park” you can read online here along with a bunch of her past work, all of which is thoughtful and excellent.

Michael: How do the tools of speculative writing help you to think and communicate about what’s being done to personal freedoms around our bodies?

Juliana: I feel that all writing is speculative writing–in that we are taking pieces and fragments of observation and alchemizing them in some way, to present some outcome or sort of epiphany. I think that opening up to what we think can be examined in literature allows readers and writers to explore new possibilities or consequences of current circumstances in a concentrated way. In writing Roses in Washington Square Park, I felt myself drawn to discovering the intentions of another artist and different modes of public interactions: audience with art, overhearing a stranger’s conversation, protest. In doing so, I felt myself make what feels like a wish for a world where boundaries around bodies are respected, understood. Because this isn’t a current reality at all times in the present, I feel it is in that sense speculative, but one that is possible. One that can certainly be more than a wish.

Michael: What are you reading and thinking about that helps put this issue in perspective for you?

Juliana: A lot of poetry. Poets like Ross Gay, Ocean Vuong, Ada Limon–those who really study the land, animals, and communities.

Michael: Tell us, if you’d like, about something you’re doing, outside of writing, to make the world a less hostile and dystopian place for human beings with bodies to exist in?

Juliana: I’m a professor of writing and I work with undergraduates. I teach a class called “Documenting Beauty,” in which they explore the “eye” of their watching, how they think, what they think, how they may resee preconceived notions. Spending a few hours a week studying these concepts together, and reading widely, I hope elevates the room, if only for that short time. Hopefully beyond.

Michael: Thank you very much!


Author: Juliana Roth

Juliana was selected as a VIDA Fellow with the Sundress Academy for the Arts for her fiction. Her writing appears in The Breakwater Review, Your Magic, Irish Pages, Los Angeles Review of Books as well as being produced as independent films that she directs. Her web series, The University, was nominated by the International Academy of Web Television for Best Drama Writing and screened at survivor justice nonprofits across the country. She writes the weekly newsletter Drawing Animals which features essays, interviews, and doodles celebrating our interconnection with animal life, and teaches writing at NYU.


Author: Michael J. DeLuca

Michael J. DeLuca is the publisher of Reckoning. He's also involved with the indie ebookstore Weightless Books, and his short fiction has been appearing since 2005 in markets such as Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mythic Delirium and Apex. His novella, Night Roll, was a finalist for the Crawford Award in 2020. He lives in the rapidly suburbifying post-industrial woodlands north of Detroit with wife, kid, cats, plants and microbes. Find him on twitter @michaeljdeluca.

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