An interview with Janaya Kizzie on her upcoming course, Voices from Beyond

Coming up on Halloween, October 31st, Frequency is thrilled to offer a special one IMG_9803day workshop, Voices from Beyond. This class is taught by Janaya Kizzie and will take place at Providence Public Library. Students will utilize the library’s special collections and investigate haunting.

Janaya answered a few questions about haunting and about her course. This is one you won’t want to miss. Sign up today!

FREQUENCY: Can you tell us about the manuscripts and artifacts that will be used in this course? Are there particular pieces you look forward to sharing with the group?

JANAYA KIZZIE: The course will be an exploration of the parallels between research, writing and haunting, and each person in the class will get to spend an extended amount of time with the historic manuscript or object that speaks to them most. We’re very lucky to be in a city with such amazing special collections available.  Providence Public Library has collections dating back to about 2000 B.C.E. We’ll be focusing on materials from the turn of the 19th century and the early 20th century –they’re a little easier to read!– which are some of the library’s deepest and most exciting collections.. They include tales from whaling voyages, antique photographs, and letters written during the Civil War. I’m inspired by many of the collections at the Library, but I think I have a soft spot for the Nicholson Whaling Collection in particular. It’s one of the foremost whaling collections in the country, and it has everything a lover of stories needs: action, strange occurrences, and shanties.

FQ: Can you give some examples of authors who might be good to read beforehand, to experience a haunting?

JK: The book I think of instantly when talking about great ghost stories is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It’s easy to write a ghost story that’s just a supernatural revenge story, but she wrote a ghost story that is an exploration into the minds of women in the mid-twentieth century. In class, we’ll be doing a little bit of reading from that and a wide range of authors, like Clive Barker, Joyce Carol Oates and Kelly Link.

FQ: What makes an ordinary event horrific?

JK: Haunting can happen everywhere and to anyone. I think that’s what makes it most interesting. It’s a very personal horror. Haunting occurs when something strange reaches out to us and we stop to listen. What happens next is a separation from our most fundamental moorings; that is horror.

Janaya Kizzie writes horror stories and an occasional prose-style sonnet. Providence inspires her often, and her career as an archivist often informs the historical elements in her creative work. She is particularly interested in genre fiction  (especially historical fiction, horror and sci fi), interstitial fiction, small-batch self-publishing, and the places where writing meets other things, like visual art, music and film.

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