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The art of the eruption: John Elizabeth Stintzi’s ‘My Volcano’

On the left, agains a yellow background, an illustration of a body wearing a green and yellow lemon tee, a volcano head with a single eye. The volcano head is erupting with orange lava. On the right, the cover of MY VOLCANO: against a green background, an open-mouthed bird and multi-colored geometric shapes.
Author illustration and book cover image by John Elizabeth Stintzi.

This week on The Write Question, Lauren speaks with poet and novelist John Elizabeth Stintzi, JES, about My Volcano (Two Dollar Radio; Arsenal Pulp Press), a meticulously-crafted tapestry of a novel—one in which a volcano emerges from the Central Park Reservoir in New York; an eight-year-old boy in Mexico City finds himself transported 500 years into the past; a white trans writer in Jersey City struggles to write a sci-fi novel about a thriving civilization on an impossible planet; and a nomadic farmer in Mongolia is stung by a bee, magically transforming him into a green, thorned, flowering creature that aspires to connect every living thing into its consciousness. All of that (and then), and more! This is a conversation about reality and identity you don’t want to miss.

About JES:

John Elizabeth Stintzi is a non-binary writer who grew up on a cattle farm in northwestern Ontario. Their work has been awarded the 2019 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, and The Malahat Review’s 2019 Long Poem Prize. Their writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, Best Canadian Poetry, and many others. JES is the author of the novels My Volcano and Vanishing Monuments, as well as the poetry collection Junebat. They live with their wife in the United States.

JES recommends:

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita (Coffee House Press)

Lauren Korn recommends:

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)

The novels of Haruki Murakami, particularly 1Q84 (Vintage Books)

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead Books)

Fever Dream by Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell (Riverhead Books)

The Write Question team is Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Peter Hoag, co-producer and editor; and Tom Berich, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at iamthemollruss.com and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now the host of Montana Public Radio’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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