Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nosy Interview: Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn in the Star Factory Messier 17, © ESO, INAF-VST

Jesmyn and I met in an elevator and, over the course of the short ride, decided to live together the following year, when we'd both be starting graduate school at The University of Michigan. I wish more of my decisions were made as quickly, and led to such happy results. Jesmyn's second novel, Salvage the Bones, was just named a finalist for the National Book Award, and you can congratulate her on her blog or via Twitter.

What do you smell like? 
I smell like food. When I am my smelly, dirty worst, I still smell like food. If I've been running, I smell like onions--big, fat, yellow Vidalia onions. If it's been a few days since I've taken a bath, I smell like pancake syrup: no, not maple syrup, but high fructose corn syrup that's dried to gum on a plate. Dreadful, I know. On a good day when I am freshly washed and showered, I still smell like food. This is in large part due to my hair. It is prone to be frizzy and dry, which means that I have to use plenty of products on it to keep it healthy and make it behave, and all my product just happens to smell like things you'd like to eat. The leave-in conditioner I use recalls navel oranges. The shea butter mix I use smells like chocolate. The hair milk leave-in I use smells like cocoa. On top of all of that, I often layer coconut oil. This means that on a good day, strangers want to eat my hair. (P.S.--You can buy these scrumptious products at www.oyinhandmade.com.They're awesome.)

What do you like to smell?
I love the sharp, briny smell of the ocean because it reminds me of California and the Pacific Ocean: that smell is very different from the Gulf of Mexico, which smells sort of salty and fecund, I think. I also love lily of the valley because I smelled it for the first time in Michigan, and the smell of figs because it reminds me of savoring them on our small balcony during the waning summer in Ann Arbor. When I smell burning pine needles, I am instantly in DeLisle, it is the fall, everyone's raking up and burning leaves, and I feel such love. Sappy, I know, but true. I like all the smells associated with the places and people I love. I also like food smells: chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, coconut, cumin, and coriander (as you can tell from my story about my hair).

29 comments:

Preets said...

Coconut oil in the hair, oh! Some of my relatives smell like that. It's a heavy-baggage smell for me. But when it's fresh out of the jar, I could eat it. Many people do, I suppose.

Also, Jesmyn, CONGRATULATIONS again! I like how E just slipped that in in your little intro, when actually the words NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST should appear in flashing red letters above, in the middle of, and below this post. And also in your picture. The stars should be forming those words: NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip about haircare products!

janet brown said...

Thanks for the tip about your novel--reserving it at the library now!

nosy girl said...

So true, Preets. I've got to figure out a way to work this this in more often.

And Anonymous & Janet--be sure to come back later this week; I'm going to do a second giveaway that should be of interest to you both!

Jesmyn Ward, writer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jesmyn Ward, writer said...

Anon, Oyin's products are excellent.

Jesmyn Ward, writer said...

Janet, I hope you enjoy reading it. :-)

Jesmyn Ward, writer said...

Nosy Girl, thank you for being AWESOME. :-)

Jesmyn Ward, writer said...

I removed my earlier post to Preeta because I wanted to edit it. The internets are confusing. Sigh. Anyhow, thank you for the congratulations, Preeta! It is insane and surreal and crazy, but I'm grateful. (I wanted to add that I use coconut oil because it's one of the few oils that can penetrate the cortex and help moisturize hair. It's a very popular oil in the Black natural hair community.)

Britta said...

Giveaways and sparkly lights in the comments?! This blog just can't get any better. And CONGRATULATIONS, Jesmimi. You light up our lives. All of us.

Preets said...

Yes, I suppose it's a very popular oil for Indian hair too, only we don't have a hair community, alas. And I don't have proper South Indian hair, but people who do swear by the coconut oil.

Preets said...

P.S. Nosy girl, NICE WORK on the sparkly lights!

Natalie said...

Jesmyn, this is lovely, and you are lovely, and you always smell so good! Maybe it's because you're just so gorgeous all around, but how have I not noticed that you just might have the cutest snoot in the world?

I love the distinction between salty and briny and salty and fecund. I also love the word fecund.

Nosy girl, you are the best.

Preets, re: an earlier post: I want to eat YOU up.

Lola said...

Winning the nosy girl prize has totally made my rainy day. I am planning on staying in and attempting to soften my barney rubble feet with some of the coconut creme. It's a little awkward because it smells so delicious that I keep thinking about licking my toes - just quickly - when I lean in for a snuff. I am hoping to get through your much anticipated novel today so that I can use it to woo a new friend who mentioned reading a great review. New friends - especially those with similar reading interests - are so lovely.

janet brown said...

Jesmyn, I finished reading your novel and am off to buy my own copy now. The problem with having Salvage the Bones be the first fiction of 2012 for me is that it sets too high a bar for every other novel I will find. Thank you!

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