Natashia-Deon-Grace

Now playing on the Otherppl with Brad Listi podcast, a conversation with Natashia Deón, author of the novel Grace. It is available now from Counterpoint Press.

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Natashia_DeonHey, Natashia Deón!

Hey, gurl!

 

Do you mind if I ask you questions that you’ve been asked recently? Can I start with what that silly lady asked in the Take-Out line?

I have nothing else to say about that lady. I’m happy now. I have snacks.

 

What are you eating?

Chicken tamales. And this is Tapatio sauce.

51KRen5JVcL._SX331_BO1204203200_-275x413Flash

Faunsdale, Alabama 1838

 

The knockin’s always there behind the wall in Momma’s room. I call it Momma’s music. My sister Hazel calls it Momma’s tired tune, a shrill note sucked and blown from a stiff reed.

Hazel’s the closest thing I got to a good daddy so she never beat me for misbehaving, never leaves me long, and never tries to touch me the wrong way. She keeps me safe in this world, keeps me safe from the knockin.

We sit in the back of our dark two-room shack, huddled under a blanket together. She’s trying to drown out Momma’s song with her hand cupped over my ear, fogging it up with her whispering, telling me we gon’ play a game called, “Let’s see who can fall asleep the fastest.” But after ten minutes of trying, even the late of midnight cain’t shake my eyelids free so now me and Hazel gon’ play a new game. It’s called “Who can be the quietest the longest.”

You spoke to thousands of people from all over the world for your book.  Do you have any favorite conversations that didn’t make it in?

 

I have many, but here are two that stand out. These calls came after my book went to press.

 

1)   I met an attractive, intelligent Canadian prostitute. Sera saw my “Lonely Jeff” flyer online. She was working at her brothel and called the number on my flyer to see if it really worked. We had a great first conversation. We’ve talked regularly since. Our conversations are candid and go everywhere.

Sera’s not the stereotypical prostitute. She doesn’t drink. Rarely uses drugs (mushrooms every few months at a heavy metal concert). She’s well-read (loves Poe and Dostoyevsky), educated, comes from a close-knit family. As a child, each Saturday, Sera would go to garage sales with her mother and “auntie”. Sera would drive them crazy by buying irrational items such as dried-up soap, socks with holes, skateboards with three wheels.

traces her finger along the grout, thinking
she could change her name
to something like Yori Shinobu. Maybe then
she’d find ancient grace, seventh century
trust, the blessing in every fifth wind

to write poetry about one time
when, yes, he admitted to wandering.
But no, he never strayed. The Season
of Tall Grass would speak of sheep
in high plain meadows, three octaves