4 Questions with Córdova Prize Winner Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Author: Mai Tran
June 6, 2022
In memory of the beloved activist and author, the Córdova Prize honors lesbian/queer-identified women and trans/gender non-conforming nonfiction writers. The award goes to a writer committed to nonfiction work that captures the depth and complexity of lesbian/queer life, culture, and/or history. Winners have published at least one book and show promise in continuing to produce groundbreaking and challenging work. The award was established in 2018 and includes a cash prize of $2,500.
Aisha is the author of The Fluency of Light, Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit, Borealis, and with her father, Captioning the Archives. She teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.
Are there any LGBTQ writers or books that you count as formative influences to you as a writer? How did you discover them?
The first LGBTQ authors that I remember being obsessed by I read in high school. Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and Alice Walker. I remember so vividly reading Oscar Wilde– anything I could get my hands on. De Profundis, the letter he wrote to his lover from prison for gross indecency. And without knowing Virginia Woolf was queer, Mrs. Dalloway just altered my DNA. The intimacy between Celie and Shug might have been the first time I encountered desire between two women on the page. I’m not sure if we’re allowed to claim Toni Morrison, but. She is the single most important influence for me, and the possibility that she might have been queer just shook me to my core. In the best way.
What does a writing day look like for you?
Oh, I just had a baby. Days don’t look like anything. Except for periodic moments of absolute wonder and bliss, interspersed with so much anxiety and exhaustion.
Are there other LGBTQ writers working today whose work you particularly admire?
I’m sure there are straight writers I admire, but if I’m honest, most of the authors I’m excited about or paying attention to are queer. It’s not even intentional.
What’s next for you?
Sleep, I hope. Then collages. Writing will follow.