Marissa Bell Toffoli

Archive for the ‘nonfiction’ Category

Interview With Writer Hazel White

In gardening, landscape architecture, nonfiction, poetry, writing on April 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm
Hazel White

Hazel White. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2012).

An introduction to Hazel White, author of the poetry collection Peril as Architectural Enrichment (Kelsey Street Press, 2011). White holds degrees in philosophy and literature, and has also studied crop agriculture and landscape architecture. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from California College of the Arts. The author of 11 gardening books, Peril as Architectural Enrichment is her first book of poems.

These two pursuits of White’s were recently fused for a UC Berkeley Botanical Garden symposium in February 2012. White described the experience as “an enormous moment. I was challenged to integrate what had previously been two separate parts of my life: the experimental poetry, and my commercial writing about landscape architecture. I made a presentation that was a sonnet, and it was a collage of prose, poetics, and  philosophy, all around landscape architecture.” For readers of Peril as Architectural Enrichment, White’s background as a garden and landscape author seems absolutely fitting. In her poetry, the natural world intertwines with an intellectual and philosophical world to create thoughtful tension as the narrator searches for balance and an understanding of her place in this space. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Brian Griffith

In books, history, nonfiction, writing on April 4, 2012 at 2:42 pm
Brian Griffith

Brian Griffith. Photo courtesy of Brian Griffith.

An introduction to author and independent historian Brian Griffith, whose new book titled A Galaxy of Immortal Women (Exterminating Angel Press, 2012) ties mythology, archaeology, history, religion, folklore, literature, and journalism into a millennia-spanning story about how Chinese women—and their goddess traditions—fostered a counterculture that flourishes and grows stronger every day. Griffith’s previous books are The Gardens of Their Dreams: Desertification and Culture in World History, Different Visions of Love: Partnership and Dominator Values in Christian History, and Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Sarah Schulman

In art, books, fiction, nonfiction, writing on December 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm
Sarah Schulman

Sarah Schulman. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

An introduction to Sarah Schulman, author of The Mere Future (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009). Schulman’s numerous books include the novels Rat Bohemia, Empathy, and The Child, and the nonfiction book The Ties That Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences. She is co-director of the ACT UP Oral History Project, and she is currently organizing the first US LGBT delegation to Palestine for Winter 2012. Sarah is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at CUNY, College of Staten Island, and was awarded a Brown Foundation Fellowship from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Her other awards include a Guggenheim, Fulbright, and the 2009 Kessler Award for her “Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer J.L. Powers

In editors, fiction, nonfiction, writing, young adult (YA) on November 12, 2011 at 10:22 am
J L Powers

J L Powers. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

An introduction to J L Powers, author of the new novel This Thing Called The Future (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). The book is about 14-year-old Khosi, who lives in a shantytown on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa with her sister, grandmother, and mother. Khosi struggles to be a big sister, a good daughter and granddaughter, to get through school, and figure out what she wants for her own future. As Khosi navigates the turbulent world of being a teenager and having crushes on boys her own age, she is also confronted with the dangers of being noticed and pursued by older men, and with the epidemic of AIDS in her community. Powers is also the author of the novel The Confessional, and the editor of the forthcoming nonfiction collection That Mad Game: Growing Up in a Warzone. Currently she calls Northern California home, but Powers grew up in El Paso, Texas, and has also spent time living and traveling in South Africa. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Laura Lee

In books, fiction, nonfiction, writing on October 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm
Laura Lee

Laura Lee. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Laura Lee, author of the new novel Angel (Itineris, 2011), and 12 other nonfiction books. Lee’s nonfiction books include Broke is Beautiful, the Elvis Impersonation Kit, Blame It on the Rain, and 100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life. Her debut novel raises issues related to faith and sexuality that have brought Lee some marketing challenges. In this interview, Lee lets readers in on her writing process and also discusses the publication process for Angel.

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Interview With Writer & Performance Poet Arthur Flowers

In art, books, graphic novels, nonfiction, poetry, spoken word, writing on June 4, 2011 at 9:11 pm
Arthur Flowers

Arthur Flowers. Photo courtesy of the author.

An introduction to Arthur Flowers, author of the graphic nonfiction book I See The Promised Land (Tara Books, 2011). Flowers collaborated with Manu Chitrakar, a Patua scroll painter from Bengal, to illustrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. A novelist, essayist, and performance poet, other books by Arthur Flowers include Another Good Loving Blues, De Mojo Blues, Cleveland Lee’s Beale Street Band, and Mojo Rising: Confessions of a 21st Century Conjureman. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Monday Night Editors

In art, books, editors, fiction, literary journals, nonfiction, poetry, writing on May 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm
Monday Night 9 cover

Monday Night Issue 9. Cover design by Sharon McGill (2010).

An introduction to Sharon McGill, Heather Miller, Nana K Twumasi, and Jessica Wickens, the editorial team that publishes the literary journal Monday Night. Open submissions are held from September to December. The idea to start Monday Night came out of a writing group where Jessica Wickens and Sharon McGill first met. The debut issue of the journal published in 2001. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Andre Dubus III

In books, fiction, memoir, nonfiction, writing on March 21, 2011 at 10:11 am
Andre Dubus III

Andre Dubus III. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2011).

An introduction to Andre Dubus III, author of the memoir Townie (WW Norton & Company, 2011), and the recent novels The House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days. Over the years, while also writing, Dubus has worked as a bartender, office cleaner, halfway house counselor, assistant to a private investigator/bounty hunter, self-employed carpenter and college writing teacher. Townie chronicles his dangerous affair with physical violence. At the end of the interview Dubus stated proudly, “I have not punched anyone in 23 years, by the way. I’m on the peaceful path.” Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Food Writer & Editor Amanda Hesser

In books, cookbooks, cooking, editors, food, nonfiction, recipes, writing on November 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm


Amanda Hesser

Amanda Hesser. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2010).

An introduction to the editor of The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century (WW Norton & Company, 2010), and author of the award-winning Cooking for Mr. Latte. Amanda Hesser is a food columnist and editor for the New York Times. She is also the co-founder of, an online community and recipe database for food lovers and cooks. Read the rest of this entry »

Interview With Writer Mike Madrid

In books, comics, nonfiction, writing on November 1, 2010 at 5:34 pm


Mike Madrid

Mike Madrid. Photo by Marissa Bell Toffoli (2010).

An introduction to the author of The SUPERGIRLS: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, & the History of Comic Book Heroines (Exterminating Angel Press, 2009). Readers of Mike Madrid’s The SUPERGIRLS will note that the discussion moves forward chronologically by decade, from the 1940s through “2000 and Beyond.” As pop culture editor for the Exterminating Angel Press online magazine, Madrid divulged, “I tend to always think of things in terms of other things. For instance, movies in terms of music, comics in terms of movies, or comics in terms of fashion, and how these things reflect certain decades.” He added, “everything seems to be referencing something else. Images in magazines are someone shot to look like someone from the fifties, celebrities get described as ‘the new so and so,’ and things like that. People don’t seem to want surprises anymore, and I find that sad.” Whether in the role of writer or editor, Madrid is a critical thinker, which makes his first book an entertaining and educational read.


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