LIC Reading Series Podcast: Being a Writer in Queens with Nancy Agabian, Trace DePass, Meera Nair, Alex Segura
Onstage Conversations at the LIC Reading Series
Where is all of the literary love for Queens? It’s right here at LIC Reading Series. Join them each week for stories, readings, and discussions with acclaimed writers, recorded with a live audience in the cozy carriage house of a classic pub in Long Island City, Queens, New York, and hosted by founder Catherine LaSota.
This week, the podcast features the reading and panel discussion from the LIC Reading Series event on September 11, 2018, featuring Nancy Agabian (Me As Her Again), Trace DePass (Self-Portrait As the Space Between Us), Meera Nair (Video: Stories), and Alex Segura (Silent City). Listen to Tuesday’s reading here!
From the episode:
Nancy Agabian: I was teaching at Queens College, and I had moved to New York from Los Angeles. I had been in Manhattan for four years. When I started teaching in Queens, it was a revelation. Everyone was from somewhere else, and I had never been in an education space like that before. I wish I had gone to school like that. I loved reading the stories from my students. There were so many stories to be heard here about immigration, race, and class. Queens is spunky.
Trace Howard DePass: I was born in Jamaica, Queens, from a hip-hop producer and my mom, who wanted to be a singer when I was born. There is a lot of art and history embedded in Queens, particularly if you get into south Jamaica in recent years. I was named after my great-grandfather who was a poet, and from Jamaica in the West Indies and moved to Jamica, Queens. His name was Howard DePass. I endured my name as a poem and a command for him.
Meera Nair: For me, Queens was the run for groceries. I’m going to go from Brooklyn to buy my curry leaves and basmati rice and then return back home in Brooklyn. Someone suggested the schools were better, and being the New York and Asian tiger mom, I acknowledged. And that was it—we moved to Jackson Heights next to the school my child went to. That’s how I ended up in Queens. I cook a lot, and I love having people over at our house. That’s what I have in Queens. I have all my friends right around and they ask me what I made for dinner, then they come over. I love that. That’s what Queens is for me: friends and family. As immigrants we don’t have family here, but our friends are our families.
Alex Segura: I feel like there is less of a heirarchy in Queens. If someone is new and wants to break in, they’ll jump to the top of the pile. They need it more. There are fewer rings to jump through in Queens. I try to be mindful of that, and I try to participate. Not only to promote my own work but to promote others. You have to treat other writers as you want to be treated as a creator. Those are more readily available in Queens.
This event was made possible in part by the Queens Council on the Arts, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.