MEMBER PROFILE: Agatha French



MEMBER PROFILE: Agatha French

When and why did you become a member of PEN Center USA?
I became a member of PEN Center USA this year after enjoying their programming for over half a decade. I credit PEN Center USA for introducing me to my literary community, and it was high time to officially sign up.

What is most meaningful to you about PEN Center USA?
As I mentioned above, I’ve personally benefitted from PEN Center USA’s inclusive literary community, and have met more like-minded, interesting, and galvanizing people at their events than anywhere else in L.A. combined.

PEN Centers share a Freedom To Write mission, which means we believe that people should be able to read and write freely. What does Freedom To Write mean to you?
I’ve been incredibly privileged in my life. I’m grateful to PEN Center USA for advocating for censored writers the world over. Everyone is entitled to the power of their own voice.

Writers are using their digital media platforms to engage with readers and other writers on serious topics. Can you give an example of a writer or organization that is doing this well?
Everyone knows about Lenny Letter and Ann Friedman’s newsletter now, right? Ok, good.

What is the one book you wish you had written and why?
I’m constantly wishing I’d written the things I read and fall in love with, although, if I had to pick just one, I’d say Trout Fishing in America, by Richard Brautigan, because it’s my mother’s favorite book, and I’d like to be able to say, “Well, Mother, I did write your favorite book,” as the ultimate trump card in any argument.

What is your favorite quote?
“It was a happy time and I couldn’t wait for it to end.”—L.A.’s own Jim Gavin

Who would be your ideal literary dinner guest (living or dead)?
Susan Cheever. I had a workshop with her once and she was salty as hell.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a chapbook, and am working with a number of local artists who are contributing illustrations. I love cross-genre work, and have been starved for collaboration, so this project feels both thrilling and restful to me.

Agatha French is a writer, reviewer, and editor in Los Angeles. Her critical work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books (where she currently serves as food editor,) LA Weekly, and The Nervous Breakdown, among others. Her short fiction has appeared in Gigantic, NANO Fiction, Parcel, Selfish, and the Burrow Press Review. She was a finalist for Epiphany magazine’s 2016 short fiction contest, judged by Rebecca Curtis. Agatha is deputy editor of Coda Quarterly, the City University of New York’s graduate writing center's literary journal, and served as guest fiction editor for the spring 2016 issue of Bridge Eight magazine. She also serves as culture editor for music production house and independent record label Ring the Alarm, and is active in the Los Angeles arts and culture community at large. She is currently hosting The Edison Book Club.