Kristen MacKenzie lives on Vashon Island in a quiet cabin where the shelves are filled with herbs for medicine-making, the floor is open for dancing, and the table faces the ocean, waiting for a writer to pick up the pen. Her work has appeared in Brevity, Rawboned, GALA, Extract(s) Daily Dose of Lit, Maudlin House, Blank Fiction, Cease, Cows; Crack the Spine, Eckleburg, Referential, Bluestockings, NAILED, and Wilderness House and is included monthly in Diversity Rules. Pieces are forthcoming in Minerva Rising, MadHat Annual, Knee-Jerk, Mondegreen, Prick of the Spindle and Crab Fat. Her short story, “Cold Comfort,” placed in Honorable Mention in The Women’s National Book Association’s annual writing contest.
Eckleburg: What drives, inspires, and feeds your artistic work?
Kristen MacKenzie: I began writing a year and a half ago at a time when all the things that had been constants in my life had changed and I was looking for solid ground. I’d stumbled across an online advice column written by Dulcie Witman, a writer and therapist with a force of personality that caused me to see things in myself I hadn’t realized were hiding there. It was frightening but I wanted more. In her advice to those seeking help, Dulcie often suggested writing as a way to see through difficult situations, to find one’s self. And I did.
Eckleburg: If you had to arm wrestle a famous writer, poet or artist, either living or dead, who would it be? Why? What would you say to distract your opponent and go for the win?
No contest. It would have to be Katharine Hepburn. Actors count as artists, right? As to the why, it would be a bit masochistic, as I dislike losing and wouldn’t stand a chance, but it would be entirely worth it to be face to face with my idol. She was tough as nails but somehow still so vulnerable you wanted to pick her up and put her in your pocket, or at least I do. Her energy was that sweet balance of masculine and feminine so that she looked just as comfortable doing rough, physical things as she did decked out in lace and heels. She was unapologetic in the very best way.
Eckleburg: What would you like the world to remember about you and your work?
I sincerely hope that by the time I go, I will have gotten through the phase of writing the sad and the angry things and found my grace and gentleness. I will hope that I’ve left some enduring guide to a peaceful way to navigate the rough patches and the surprises so that my daughter doesn’t have to make it all up from scratch. But of course, she will anyway because my ways won’t be her ways.
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