FROM “THE WRITER IN THE WORLD: DEFIANCE, IMAGINATION AND THE FUTURE WITH KAIE KELLOUGH” BY CANISIA LUBRIN FOR OPEN BOOK
Canisia Lubrin: Many writers over time have expressed the sentiment that the writer, in order to write, is always at odds with their society. I’m keen for your insights as a writer whose works locate that particular discordance across genres.
Kaie Kellough: … The complication that arises is that so many people feel at odds with society, but nobody is really outside of society, and performances of noisome defiance are not always progressive. Internet trolls and alt-right bigots proclaim themselves marginalized and alienated, and they embrace noise and defiance. And it seems that one of the major contrarian drives of our time, one of the major ways of appalling polite liberal society comes from revisiting the Nazis: performing their gestures, quoting Hitler, embracing their outlook and displaying their symbols. North America continues to be deeply divided, increasingly violent, and politically dissolute. In light of that, I’ve had to question some of the techniques I employ, and I’ve become more careful about how I choose to engage with questions of belonging and alienation.
I’ve been thinking that, in my own work, whether written or performed, the issue really is less about my ownership of the idea of alienation or outsider status, and more about identifying and investigating various areas of discord that exist in our society, using them as vehicles for narrative by locating characters along their fault-lines. Overall, if everyone is at odds with society, and we have splintered into innumerable groups that proclaim defiance, I would like to use art to hold a compassionate critical space that people can access to think about our divisions.