Friday, June 1, 2018

Faith Kershisnik Q&A

Today's piece is "Counsel" by Faith Kershisnik. Take a look at the poem, then come back for the Q&A:

A lot of Adam and Eve stories deal with the firsts, and this piece features a cool one: the first surgery. The first time doctors ever talked while their patients were under. What drew you as a writer to this moment?

Oh, that’s an interesting observation. Does it sound crazy to say I hadn’t thought of it at all in those terms? I didn’t have a surgical scenario in mind when writing this, but I was fascinated by the dramatic irony of God’s words to Adam regarding the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. We know the story, we know that Eve and Adam eat and don’t die that day (in the sense that we understand the term). There’s some disconnect between what God says and what Adam could comprehend in that moment, and then what he and Eve experience. So what do we do with that, as readers? I wanted to play with Jehovah being in that position, dealing with the disconnect, and getting a response directly from God. If this Jehovah has anything in common with me, he would’ve been bursting at the seams to reconcile the dissonance as soon as he had a moment alone with God, which happens to come right as they put Adam in a deep sleep. I wanted the conversation to reveal some of the complexity of that type of confrontation, to leave the reader with a sense of ‘huh, yeah, what was the right thing to do here? Who’s position do I identify with?’

Maybe it's cheating for us as readers to ask you this, but: what's the relationship for you between the frame scene of forming woman and the counsel God is giving the Son?

That’s totally cheating.

…But I’ll indulge you anyway. I think this is the part of creation where everything gets interesting. I like that human relationship is in the process of being created at the same time woman is created, and that this is a complicated, conflicted relational moment between God and Jehovah, when he is also teaching Jehovah about the complexities of human relationship. It felt like a great moment to illuminate the death and destructive processes inherent in the creativity of relationship.  You don’t get one in this world without the other. 

What would you like to see more of in Mormon Literature?

I guess that depends on whether we’re talking about literature with Mormon themes and content for a Mormon audience, or literature written by Mormons. I should also preface any responses with the admission that I’m not a Mormon literature connoisseur, so undoubtedly I’ll say something really ignorant that marginalizes someone’s work.  Feel free to leave a comment telling me how wrong I am.

As for literature with Mormon themes and content for a Mormon audience, I’d like to see 2 things: first, more Mormon midrash. More Mormons diving into scripture with their imagination, coming up with more pearls to share with the rest of us. Second, I’d like to hear/read more literature about people’s actual lived experiences with Mormonism. We have loads of fiction at places like Deseret Book or Seagull Books that idealize the Mormon experience, but I think there’s a disconnect with those types of stories and what a lot of people are living now. I want art that deepens (or demands that we deepen) how we apply faith in our real-life struggles, rather than art that fantasizes about or sentimentalizes faith.

As for literature written by Mormons but not exclusive to Mormon audiences, I’d like to see more Mormons publishing literary work, in addition to the strong genre presence we have out there. I know there are strong voices already in the mix, so I don’t mean to dismiss their work; I just want to see more of us in the game. I think we sometimes get a bad wrap for being ‘juvenile’ because there’s so much young adult fiction out there, or for being incapable of writing and comprehending tragedy because of our relationship to grief/the afterlife/eternal families, but I feel there’s a richer and more faceted cultural voice that’s needing to be shared. I don’t care what the literature is about and how ‘Mormon’ it is, I just want to see it done and available for the world to experience.

Where can we read more of your work?


I’m a rookie. I was first published last month with Segullah’s editorial journal, which can be read online, and I’m currently working with Tryst Press to publish my complete collection of poetry and short stories on the Genesis Creation myth in art book form. Feel free to follow me on IG for updates on the project :)

7 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Trying this again:

    I really like the way you framed this story, Faith. As James' questions suggested, there's something fascinating and evocative about the way you set up the dialogue.

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  3. .

    This is one of the most Mormon Eden stories I've ever read. And that is really saying something.

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    Replies
    1. Didn't you consider putting together an anthology of Mormon Eden work once?

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    2. Do elaborate, Th. Curiosity piqued

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    3. .

      I've never stopped considering it, but I got depressed when I realized I've never actually put a list together....

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