Tiffany Austin received her BA in English from Spelman College, her MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University, her JD from Northeastern University, and her PhD in English from Saint Louis University. She currently teaches rhetorical and creative writing at the College of The Bahamas. Her research and teaching field also includes African Diaspora literature—African American, Afro-Latin, Caribbean, and African literature.
How would you describe your writing?
My writing has been described as one with a gendered blues aesthetic, but I don’t relate this descriptor to how we generally perceive the blues. I’ve always admired blues music, not only for its melancholic tones, but for its protest-like and freeing qualities. I grasp its expressive possibilities because of its creative use of language and sound (especially its disguised protest element). I’m most interested in the embodiment of language—readers’ visceral responses—so my poetry is full of images and elliptical narratives. The themes range from historical and personal memory to “tenderness” amongst tragedy-fraught events and experiences. I find myself asking, “What do we desire from memory?” Within those themes subsist the subjects of cultural belonging, dislocation, gender, and age. I don’t overtly point to sexuality because I’m more invested in how we sensually engage with ourselves and one another. Pondering the possibilities for poetry, it’s about how I treat you and you treat me—personally, socially, politically—and that’s what the blues delves into and how it relates.