Uncategorized | November 06, 2004

In 1994, Kay Bonetti interviewed Jessica Hagedorn, whose first novel, Dogeaters, published in 1990, had received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and had been a finalist for the National Book Award. In the interview, which first appeared in The Missouri Review 18:1 (1995), Hagedorn discusses the Philippines (where she was born), movies, her childhood friendship with Kenneth Rexroth, identity, language, and her band, The Gangster Choir.

An excerpt:

Hagedorn: The demons of identity are certainly some of the demons I confront. God, I don’t have to list all my demons, do I Kay? But in that particular sentence I meant this sort of condition of who am I? I am of mixed blood. Where are my allegiances? Is there an easy answer? No there isn’t. I wanted to have clarity about what I was doing. Who am I as an artist, as a woman? Now whether or not I choose to answer those questions, I still get disturbed by them. Those themes permeate my work, so that’s part of the demonology of my life. And I think about issues of mortality and immortality. I’m starting to confront now living in the United States as opposed to living back in the Philippines. Why I’ve decided to do that. It’s important to me to know why, and would I die here? That’s my new question. Is this the country where I want to die and be buried? If so, maybe it’s because this is a country that allows you to reinvent yourself.