Dear Current Occupant
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in LiteratureNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network September 12, 2019 Eric LeMay
Today, I’m talking with Chelene Knight. She’s written a new memoir called Dear Current Occupant (Book*hug, 2018). And as her title suggests, it’s a letter of sorts, one written to those people who might now be occupying one of many places she and her family lived back when she was growing up in downtown Vancouver’s eastside, and in this sense, her memoir is a map of the city, allowing us to see into lives and loves and struggles we might otherwise never see. But Dear Current Occupant is also a letter to Knight’s younger selves, to the girl and eventually young woman who lived in these places and who struggled to discover who she was and who she could be. The result of this correspondence is a rich and multifaceted account of what it means to become a strong writer and, in Knight’s words, “a strong black woman.” Knight’s book combines poetry, prose, maps, photographs, and other media to tell a singular story that could be told in no other way, to make visible what she calls “the cracks in the narrative,” which, in the end, hold the truth of her story and perhaps her very self.
Eric LeMay is on the creative writing faculty at Ohio University. His work ranges from food writing to electronic literature. He is the author of three books, most recently In Praise of Nothing: Essay, Memoir, and Experiments (Emergency Press, 2014). He can be reached at email@example.com.