In Seven Questions, we interview writers, editors, designers, and others in publishing. Today, we interview Alexis Pauline Gumbs, whose work, “Map of Anguilla, BWI. Handed to Alexis Pauline Gumbs by Jeremiah Gumbs.” appears in Ecotone 23. She is the granddaughter of Anguillian revolutionaries Jeremiah and Lydia Gumbs, and the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity, the coeditor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines, and the founder of the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, based in Durham, North Carolina. Her book M Archive: After the End of the World —the second book in a planned experimental triptych—is a series of poetic artifacts that speculatively documents the persistence of Black life following a worldwide cataclysm. It comes out this week from Duke University Press.
If you could spend a year writing anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would spend the year in Anguilla. There is something about being able to hear the ocean twenty-four hours a day that helps me write from a deeper place. Anguilla specifically is a place where I can hear the guidance of my ancestors more loudly and clearly than anywhere I’ve been because of my own ancestral and family connection to the island. Once I spent a month writing in Anguilla and it was profound. The whole time, I wrote thank-you poems to Black feminist thinkers who have contributed to my life with their work and their living. That wasn’t the plan, and each of those poems was really for an audience of one person, but it is some of the most necessary writing I have ever done.
What books are open on your desk right now?
Interdependence: Biology and Beyond by Kriti Sharma (a brilliant North Carolina writer, scientist, and beloved friend) an issue of “Artists and Influence” (a serial publication by Camille Billops and James Hatch) “Who Set You Flowin’?”: The African American Migration Narrative by Farah Jasmine Griffin…(My beloved teacher and intellectual mother, I read her books on perpetual rotation.) Rebellious Mourning: The Collective Work of Grief (edited by Cindy Milstien). The Gift is in the Making by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. And The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemison and A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L’Engle are on my bed; my partner and I are reading those two aloud.