Artist Statement

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I explore how architectures drive narrative events, how essay and story cross-pollinate, how a sequence of appropriated boxes shapes character, how travel makes for the most beautifully flawed thing in this world—a first conversation. I write characters who are viscerally conscious of physical distance: distance to others, to running water, to their next meal, like two sources of heat or gravity that can sense each other from infinitely far away.

I have a favorite experience, sitting in a train station late at night. Philadelphia, and the station is under renovation. Plywood walls have been erected between some of the tracks and platforms. A man sits alone on a bench: dark glasses, cane, veteran’s cap. I know he cannot see. He stands and signs ‘peace’ as a train rattles through the basement terminal two platforms over. He signals, I think, to the onboard passengers, though none can see him because of a plywood barricade I suspect—but don’t know—he does not know is there. My writing almost always arises out of motion, turning corners on a street, turning rocks on a river bank, but every so often I return to the fixed points, the train station. In these cities, there is always some renovation, a rethinking, a door that no longer goes someplace, a corridor grown narrower, some change in course that prior experience has taught me not to see coming.

-roger