Redfern Boyd often writes about travel, pop culture and things famous people have said when they thought no one was listening. She holds an MA in English Literature from Central Connecticut State University. Her poem ‘Igor Stravinsky Awaits the Arrival of Dylan Thomas’ won Blue Muse Magazine’s Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize in 2018. Her work has appeared in publications including The Atticus Review, Plainsongs, Boudin, Outrageous Fortune, The Route 7 Review, Riza, Uncomfortable Revolution, A Feast of Narrative (vols. 2 & 3) and DoveTales: Writing for Peace. A New England native, she now lives in Berlin, Germany.
What is your writing process?
An angel visits me in a dream and dictates my next piece to me — word for word would be helpful, but usually just the gist. It’s a different angel every night; there’s a rotating cast. They’re very generous to let me have the credit.
Tell us about your story for the anthology. Where did your idea for ‘The American Teenage Classic Graduation Farewell’ come from? Were there any challenges writing it?
There are elements of personal truth reflected in it, so the challenge lay primarily in determining where and how to blur the line. I suppose my fiction is a bit selfish in that I often use it to inhabit experiences I either have had or wish I’d had. This story surprised me by allowing me to inhabit both experiences at once, like Schrödinger’s cat. And I’d originally envisioned something longer until I discovered I could communicate more with less. Not the first time that’s happened to me.
The motif of music is striking in ‘The American Teenage Classic Graduation Farewell’ – did any particular ideas or experiences about the place of music in adolescence draw you into the writing?
Popular music has figured so prominently in my upbringing and development and identity that it touches just about everything I write. I would perform in choirs and musicals at school and then go home and get my fix of other genres. It was self-evident to me to include the Beach Boys, whose songs celebrate an ideal of American teenhood that seems further and further removed from each generation’s reality. I was also deep into their record Pet Sounds at the time of writing — I even started a podcast about it, called ‘Pod Sounds’ — so the alienation that pervades adolescence and resurfaces during young adulthood was at the front of my mind.
Tell us about your favourite reads. What do you like about them?
Oh, too many to list gracefully. A recent release that hooked me is Casey McQuiston’s novel One Last Stop, a sexy time-travelling love letter to New York City. My latest ‘canon’ pick is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: the scene-setting truly spares no detail, and the prose reminds me how the books labelled classics are meant to make us feel. Sam Irby’s 2020 essay collection Wow, No Thank You. is as uproarious as the blog she wrote for years, a great pandemic perspective reset. And I’ll shout out Mona Simpson’s short story Lawns, which I read at university and have never ever stopped thinking about — it doesn’t let your heart or your stomach rest.
How did you hear about GSP?
Cruising the Submittable pages, as I frequently do. Happy and honoured to have been welcomed into the community.