It’s good to be home! I am back from three full days in Ohio, where I gave two talks. On top of that, I visited Linda Krumholz’s Harlem Renaissance class this morning. I went in tired and distracted, preoccupied with the travel ahead of me. The students were so gracious and thoughtful, so kind. They were a special group and asked me the most interesting questions about my work than I have ever been asked. “Now I’m worried I’m going to forget to leave,” I joked. I saw a white male student look at the clock when I said that; it was empathetic concern, I had no doubt. 

When it was time for me to go, another male student escorted me to my car, per Linda’s request. 

“I’ve never escorted anyone before,” he joked. “Maybe you should take my arm.” We laughed.

                  “Do you have a jacket to throw over puddles so I won’t muss my dress slippers?” I teased.

We talked about his ambivalent fondness for Chick-fil-A (he identified himself as bisexual). I shared my secret shame over re-watching the first two seasons of “House of Cards.” He wants to be a writer. How? he asked. 

“Sit your butt in the seat and move your hand across the page,” I told him. “That’s all I know.”

College students: they make me laugh, keep me fresh, and give me hope. That’s why I teach.


“You’re going to get into trouble,” a friend warned me as I was getting ready to publish my last book, a story about Carl Van Vechten, a white man, and his passionate attachment to blackness. Fear of getting into trouble had made it hard for me to write the book for many years. I swore it off. I tried to keep a straight face in sober debates about whether or not Van Vechten appropriated black culture. But I didn’t care. I was drawn to his messiness. It kept me awake. I didn’t care about answers, but I did care about the questions. Finally, I gave in to my own curiosity, and the book came to be.

Writing, for me, is about questions. I write because there are many things that fascinate, bother, and intrigue me, things I am sure have the same effect on other people. Writing is a solitary practice, but it is also about finding a community. Writing would be joyless for me if I weren't sure that there are other human beings out there who wonder at the world the same way I do..

I am writing this blog for those of you who are also drawn to mystery, propelled by curiosity, and excited about all that is ineffable in this life.