Pushing the Pen
An interview with Kimberly Nightingale
By SAYMOUKDA VONGSAY
Saymoukda Vongsay presents “Pushing the Pen” a series of interviews that highlight Asian American artists and individuals who advocate for Asian American art.
Last week, Vongsay featured award-winning spoken word poet Kyle Myhre, and this week features Kimberly Nightingale. Look for the following interviews in the weeks ahead:
• Mai Neng Moua – founder of the literary journal Paj Ntaub Voice and editor of the anthology Bamboo Among the Oaks
• Ka Vang – Bush Artist Fellow, playwright, and journalist with MN Women’s Press
• Kao Kalia Yang – author of The Late Homecomer and MN Book Award
• Katie Leo – playwright and theater artist whose latest work, Four Destinies, will be produced by Mu Performing Arts this season
• Boua Xiong – journalist and newsbroadcaster with Kare11
• Aki Shibata – 3D book artist in residence at the MN Center for Book Arts housed at Open Book
Kimberly Nightingale is the founding director of Saint Paul Almanac, whose mission is to build community by creating meeting spaces for sharing the stories and poems of the city.
Q: In the form of a haiku/senyru, tell us about yourself.
Kimberly: A tree limb, a face / art in us—out, the grace and / honor of it here
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced within your discipline?
K: Money, money, money. Trying to keep a nonprofit financially solvent and pay artist is my biggest challenge.
Q: What does the saying, “Each one, reach one, teach one,” mean to you? Should it apply to writers at all?
K: It’s intimate in its intentions, to build community and educate, which is a good thing.
Q: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
K: A full-color Saint Paul Almanac in September, 2011. Future goal is to carry almanac model nationally and internationally.
Q: What is the future of your discipline? Where is it headed?
K: Books are a business that is changing rapidly. But writing will always be with us, so the future looks bright and shiny.
Q: Be innovative or stay classic?
K: Both apply. Not knowing history is a sad commentary on most of our American lives, yet Innovation drives our American culture.
Q: What else do you wield with your hands other than a pen?
K: I’m a sailor. I use a tiller and clean and move lines.
Q: Where is your happy place?
K: On the water or listening to good, live music.
Q: In the spirit of ‘wait 20 minutes before swimming,’ what should a writer NOT do before their pen hits the paper?
K: Don’t bother waiting. Write whenever you can.
Q: Besides other writers, what influences your work?
K: Music, art, activism; peace and justice activities locally and around the world.
Kimberly Nightingale will be an expert panelist for “How to get published” along with Borealis Press at the inaugural Hmong Women Writers Retreat held September 9th – 11th at Villa Maria in Frontenac, MN. For an application and information on the retreat, please visit www.hmongwomenachieve.org. To learn more about Saint Paul Almanac visit www.saintpaulalmanac.com .
Saymoukda Vongsay is a recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Prize in Spoken Word Poetry from NY and a Jerome/Mu Performing Arts’ New Eyes Theater Fellow. She lives and writes in St. Paul.