We are excited to announce our 2019 Rhinebeck Residents: Sionnain Buckley, Nita Noveno, Tiffany Tucker, and Michelle Chikaonda.

They each come to our Issue 10 topic, “Willful Innocence,” from a deep and different perspective, and our hope is that their collective voices will help to set the tone for our issue, which investigates guilt, shame, and innocence, as well as the harm that we inflict upon each other — and ourselves. They will be among the 12-16 voices we publish for Issue 10, which launches at the end of July. Below, get a glimpse into who our four extraordinary residents are, and what work they’ll be pursuing during their residency in July. 

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Sionnain Buckley is a writer and visual artist based in Boston. Her work has appeared or is slated to appear in Winter Tangerine, Autostraddle, Wigleaf, Strange Horizons, New South, and others. Her flash fiction has been nominated for Best of the Net and Best Small Fictions, and she serves as a prose editor for 3Elements Review. When she isn’t making up strange stories, she is consuming queer media and popcorn in equal measure. Find more of her work at sionnainbuckley.com.

Sionnain writes of her approach and aesthetic:

“As a fiction writer, my work is often influenced by slipstream modes, with a particular focus on fairytale and myth. As a queer person, I find that these modes lend themselves well to writing queerly, and writing about queerness. For me, queerness is as much about sexuality and identity as it is about strangeness, and I use slipstream techniques and fairytale forms to accentuate and delve deeper into that strangeness. I aim to subvert and circumvent the foundations, structures, and styles we have inherited in order to contribute to a new queer mythology. I hope to give us new myths and archetypes to cling to or rail against, and to further change as we change further.”

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Nita Noveno teaches composition and literature at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. She is a graduate of The New School MFA Creative Writing Program and the founder and co-host of Sunday Salon, a long-running monthly reading series in NYC. Nita writes about memory, culture, identity, and immigrant lives. Her work has appeared in Kweli, The MacGuffin, Ducts.org, Resist Much / Obey Little – Inaugural Poems to the Resistance, About Place Journal, and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s Open City Magazine. Originally from Southeast Alaska, she lives in Queens, New York.

In explaining a bit about the premise of her work, Nita writes:

“At the turn of the 19th century, America was creating a reflection of itself across the Pacific in the Philippines. This is why my father immigrated to the US from his native country. He and others like him, immigrant laborers and hopeful ‘little brown brothers,’ had been given a way to the other side of the mirror. They wanted to become the grander versions of themselves. In America’s outstretched hand, an offering of dreams, real and empty. My father’s immigrant experience is, in essence, the story and a significant moment in America’s history.”  

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Tiffany Marie Tucker is a third-year MFA Candidate in the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. Before Iowa, Tiffany’s fashion blog, Fat Shopaholic, was featured in the New York Times. She has taught creative writing and literature classes at Alabama State University, Hobart and William Smith College, and the University of Iowa. She is a recipient of the University of Iowa’s MFA Summer Fellowship and the Diversity Fellowship to release her from teaching to complete a book of essays about the intersections of Black movement, adornment, and music, tentatively titled Hated on Mostly. You can find links to her work in Gusher Magazine and the Rumpus at tiffanymarietucker.com.

Tiffany is currently at work on an essay titled “Picture Me Rollin,” after 2 Pac’s popular song, which employs an “associational style” and “utilizes The Negro Motorist Green Book to examine the liberation, restriction, and violence associated with driving in a Black body from the perspective of a Black person that never learned to drive.” Tiffany writes:

“Much of my other work blends personal experience, cultural critique, research, and humor to tell the often-overlooked stories of Black women’s movement on and relationship to the American spaces our ancestors build and were barred from.” 

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Michelle Chikaonda is a nonfiction writer from Blantyre, Malawi, currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She has won the Literary Award for Narrative Nonfiction of the Tucson Festival of Books, the Stephen J. Meringoff Award for Nonfiction of the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers, the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Scholarship for writers of color from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. She is a VONA fellow, and is currently published in The Globe and Mail, Hobart Journal, Arts and Africa, and the Kalahari Review, among others.

In reflecting on the ever-changing nature of her work, Michelle says:

“Though I was born and now live in Philadelphia, I am originally from Malawi. Last month I had a conversation with several other African writers about the inherited colonial wounding—manifest self-hatred on a societal scale—the African middle classes will need to admit to in themselves before our countries can move past our current developmental standstills. It was right after this conversation that I suddenly understood that the reason I had had such a difficult time at the boarding school I attended when our family returned to Malawi in the 1990s was not because of a mere struggle with adjusting: it was that our family had been poor before returning home, and my prior “inferior” social station apparently showed, leading to years of humiliation I couldn’t then understand. This realization has cast a penetrating spotlight onto my thinking and writing about that period in my life, and suggests that the portfolio I currently have surrounding those experiences may not actually be accurate to their fundamental truths. It is a complicated literary epiphany, that I’m still now meditating over the implications of.” 

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Join us in welcoming Sionnain, Nita, Tiffany, and Michelle to our Rhinebeck Residency. You can see our past residents here, as well as what they had to say about their time at The Crystal Cottage in Rhinebeck here.