Lanternfish Press

Rare & Strange

Maps Are Lines We Draw

Find Lanternfish Press at AWP 2018 in Tampa

EventsFeliza Casano

It's that time of year again, when writers and publishers from across the country descend upon a conference center for the madness that is AWP: the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Annual Conference.

We'll be heading to Tampa, Florida, for this year's conference, so please come say hello! You can find us at table T-1246 for the duration of the conference (March 7-10).

Two Lanternfish authors will be signing books: Allison Coffelt (Maps Are Lines We Draw: A Road Trip Through Haiti, forthcoming March 20) on Thursday, March 8, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. and Anca L. Szilágyi (Daughters of the Air, December 2017) on Friday, March 9, from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Anca will also be reading from her novel at an offsite event, Strange Theater: A Menagerie of Fabulists on Thursday, March 8, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. That's being held at 5 Star Dive Bar, 1811 North 15th Street, Tampa, FL 33605. She will join other fabulist authors including Anne Valente, Daniel Hoyt, Adrienne Celt, Sequoia Nagamatsu, Tessa Mellas, Jason Teal, Dana Diehl, and Melissa Goodrich.

You can find Allison on the panel "The Dividing Line": Blending Research in Personal Narratives, along with Jon Pineda, Joni Tevis, and Colin Rafferty. This panel will run in Room 13 on the first floor of the convention center on Friday, March 9, from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.

We hope to see you soon. Come, visit; tell us what you've been working on since we saw you last!

If you won't be at AWP, you can follow along on our adventures via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. (And don't forget to follow along with the conference at large with #AWP18.)

Introducing Allison Coffelt, author of MAPS ARE LINES WE DRAW

InterviewsFeliza Casano

"To escape this rocking weight, all I had to do—I thought—was draw my line."

Allison Coffelt's debut memoir Maps Are Lines We Draw: A Road Trip Through Haiti recounts her travel through the island nation with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO.

With just a month to go before Maps Are Lines We Draw releases, we sat down to chat with Allison about her travels, her influences, and her work. You can also add the book on Goodreads.

Maps Are Lines We Draw largely centers on your travels in Haiti.  Tell us a little about other places you’ve traveled around the world.

I was very fortunate growing up in that that travel was something my family valued and was able to do. I touch on this a little bit in the book – what it means to have what I think of as “geographic curiosity” at a fairly early age. 

While I’ve been able to travel to several places, it was doing research for this book that really gave me the opportunity to deeply think about what it means to travel, to travail, to (choose to) do that certain kind work. Travel requires, often, physical discomfort. And it means putting the body in settings that are unknown, where you’re not always sure how you’ll respond. All this, usually with the hope that in the end it will be worth it. 

When we choose to put ourselves in unknown or uncomfortable situations, I believe we learn something about ourselves and, just as importantly, about the world around us.  There is a misconception, I think, that travel means you have to go far away.  That’s not necessarily true, though this book is set nearly two thousand miles from where I live.  Right now, I’m doing another place-based project that builds on what I’ve learned with travel, but is set a little closer to home.

Photo: Britt Hultgren

Photo: Britt Hultgren

Who are some of the writers who have influenced your work over the years?

The list is long.  As one of the early readers points out, my journey to write this book begins with another book, Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains, which I read at the formidable age of 15, and which sparked my interest in Haiti – and thinking about injustice and why things are the way they are. 

Since that book, there have been so many other writers who have been instrumental in the formation of my work. In terms of contemporary essayists, I’ve been influenced by Annie Dillard, Eula Biss, Claudia Rankine, Barry Lopez, Joni Tevis, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Maggie Nelson, and many others; I come back to books by those writers fairly often for guidance. Poetry – and writers who deeply care about the sound of language – have always been significant influences. I also have a deep appreciation for fiction. And, of course, there are many other writers who are long gone who have shaped my work.

For this book, I read Vivan Gornick’s The Situation and the Story at a crucial time in my revision and it helped me greatly.  I also work closely with the work and research of others: Peter Hallward’s Damming the Flood, Jonathan Katz’s The Big Truck That Went By, Mary Louise Pratt’s Imperial Eyes, Paul Farmer’s many books, of course Edwidge Danticat’s work, Susan Sontag, Pietra Rivoli’s Travels of a T-shirt, oral histories, in person interviews, and a lot of news reporting.  I’m influenced a lot by nonfiction film, audio storytelling, and other forms of media.

Where else can readers find you and your work before Maps hits the shelves in March?

There’s a portion of the book up at Anchor Magazine, a publication from the wonderful folks at Still Harbor. I also have a piece in the Los Angeles Review of Books about Donald Trump, which I wrote during the election, but I think there’s still some relevance to it.  Were I to rewrite it today, it would be a bit different, and far more urgent.  There’s a piece of flash nonfiction up at Hippocampus called “Inheritance.”  This year, I’m also doing more teaching and working with individuals on writing; you can find information about that on my website.

Allison Coffelt lives and writes in Columbia, Missouri. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hippocampus, Oxford Public Health Magazine, the Crab Orchard Review, museum of americana, Prick of the Spindle, the Higgs Weldon humor website, and the University of Connecticut journal of Contemporary French & Francophone Studies (SITES).  She was a finalist in the 2015 Crab Orchard Review Literary Nonfiction Prize, the 2016 San Miguel Writer’s Workshop Essay Contest, and the winner of the 2015 University of Missouri Essay Prize.  She currently works for True/False Film Fest, where she is the Education & Outreach Director and host of the True/False podcast.

Preorders are open for MAPS ARE LINES WE DRAW

Cover RevealsFeliza Casano

Are you ready for our next release? Allison Coffelt's literary memoir Maps Are Lines We Draw is now available for pre-order before the March 20 publication.


From the cover:

After a decade of dreaming, Allison Coffelt arrived in Haiti, ready—she thought—"to learn how much she didn’t know" about the Caribbean nation. Traveling the highways with Dr. Jean Gardy Marius, founder of the public health organization OSAPO, she embarked on a life-changing journey that would weave Haiti’s proud, tumultuous history and present reality into her life forever.

Maps Are Lines We Draw explores the culture and natural beauty of the island as well as its discomfiting realities: the threat well-intentioned aid organizations can present to the local economy; the privilege that determines who gets to travel between a "here" and a distant "there" which is foreign and other; and the challenge of doing short-term good without creating long-lasting harm. 

You can preorder your copy now through our website or at your favorite independent bookstore or online book retailer, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon. The first 50 copies of Maps preordered through the Lanternfish Press website will include a bookplate signed by the author.