The Big Read Blog (Archive)

On Writing with Jacqueline Woodson


Jacqueline Woodson. Photo by Marty Umans

Without revealing my age, let's just say it's been quite some time (okay, okay two decades) since I devoured some young adult fiction. But devouring is what happens when you sit down with a Jacqueline Woodson work. Her economy of language and lyrical rhythm propel you through the complicated worlds she creates. Yes, she writes primarily for young adults, but you could also say she writes for humanity. Young, old, rich, poor, white, black, brown, gay, straight---never in my life have I seen characters from such disparate backgrounds grace the page of a "young adult" book. She writes reality with a compassionate eye towards understanding and, most importantly, acceptance. In her gifted hands everyone has a voice.

Woodson and I covered a wide range of topics in the NEA studio last Saturday morning. For instance, she listened to a lot of Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen while writing her latest book, Beneath a Meth Moon. She's also, like yours truly, a big fan of the influential writer Raymond Carver. Find out why in the following excerpt from our conversation.

[audio:] [6:21]


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