Interviews With Red Beard Authors and artists All interviews are directly transcribed from the author and should be read as their words and sentiments, the views they express do not represent red beard press in any way
Interview With Jane-Marie Anderson, Author of Why I Hate Bananas
Question: Could we start off by having you tell me a bit about yourself and your piece?
I want to have a career in Public Service. Through my own scholastic accolades, I made it onto the Harvard Waitlist. I have an internship with State Representative Stephanie Chang this summer. I am in an improv troupe. My piece is about the effects of having cancer, and writing it was a cathartic experience for me.
Question: I love your piece a lot. It is very full of hope, but also sadness and empathy. You write about being a survivor, watching others fight against an animal you conquered. When you were sick do you remember how people tried to support you? Have you used those techniques when interacting with those not in remission?
The people around me supported me by telling me stories and reaffirming my person, not my sickness. Whenever I'm with someone who's sick, I ask them about their interests, hobbies, and goals; never their sickness.
Question: There is a line where you say “After five years without a relapse I was classified as a ‘survivor.’ But I find that word disputable because it is past-tense and I carry that experience in the present,” could you talk to me a bit more about this line and the ways you carry this weight in the present day? I am sure you get these questions a lot, you don’t need to answer if you are not comfortable of course.
Having been isolated from other kids for about five years of my childhood, I have had the opportunity to nurture my innate qualities. It made it difficult to socially integrate myself into a school environment. However, by senior year, I have good relationships with almost everyone in my high school, and I enjoy going to gatherings and talking to people.
Question: My twin was very sick last year and nearly passed away but the U of M is a very good hospital and they saved their life. They talk to me about their complex relationship to the building, being both grateful for it as well as sickened by its hallways and smells. Your line “Every year I return to the Hematology Clinic at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, in midtown Detroit. This annual pilgrimage feels like visiting a museum,” made me wonder if you had a similar type of relationship to the place you were cured?
I do have a similar feeling about hospitals, I do and don't like them. Of course they're necessary, but when I go to a hospital, I kind of feel what I presume a old veteran feels when he watches a movie about war. It makes old memories bubble up.
Question: Is there anything you think you learned in the hospital and through your experience which you think other people should know?
I don't presume to know what other people should know, but a value that I hold deeply is: material things and the physical body are not analogous to nature.
To learn more about Jane-Marie, Why I Hate Bananas, and her writing, join us at the release of The First Edition of Pufferfish Magazine, in which she is featured, Saturday, April 30th at 310 E. Washington St. (see Facebook event for more details)