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Henry Hoke

Alumnus, 2000-2001; Teaching Screenwriter 2008-2010 and 2012

Henry Hoke attended the Workshop in playwriting in 2000 and 2001, joined the residential staff as a teacher and counselor in 2005 and 2006, and returned as a teaching screenwriter from 2008-2010 and again in 2012.

Where are you living and what brought you there?

I live in Los Angeles, a place I never imagined I’d end up. I came here from New York City to get an MFA at CalArts, and found an incredible literary and artistic community that loves to take advantage of the vast availability and possibility of space here in Southern California.

Where are you working and what do you enjoy about it?

I just finished a freelance writing project for a musician’s upcoming “Soldier Stories” album. I flew around the country interviewing a family of World War II vets and creating an oral history, while also scanning documents and letters from their ancestors’ service in all the previous U.S. conflicts (all the way back to the Revolutionary War). Parts of this oral history are being recorded and placed on the album, and the whole work was employed for story development and song selection. I loved diving into a more journalistic mode for this project and using the voices of others to create a collaged narrative. Collaborating with a musician helped illuminate how depth of story is crucial in all genres.

What do you find yourself most often reading/listening to lately and why?

Street signs, Calvin and Hobbes, non-fiction about unexplained mysteries. I drive around blaring The-Dream, The Shangri-Las and Prince. Old Scott Walker in the morning and new Scott Walker at night. When I write I listen to Eccojams and Body God because it helps me to be haunted.

What are you working on right now and what does it represent in the larger body of your artistic accomplishments?

I’m writing a collection of linked stories called Genevieves, and a novella called MoNa. They are both larger bodies. My MFA thesis work was a poetic memoir, and I chiefly wrote and produced movies and plays before that. More recently I’ve been publishing short stories in literary magazines. In light of that I’ve decided to focus on writing straight-up fiction this year, and so far it’s very freeing and fun.

What are your publications, performances, albums, and/or achievements that seem most important to you at this point in time?

I created and curate an immersive literary event called ENTER>text at Concord, an emerging art space. Each season we create this “living literary journal” for one night only, where writers and their work are placed throughout the warehouse (which includes bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom, vehicles and secret corners in addition to the gallery). Attendees then explore and happen upon (or are pulled into) readings and performances, all conceived and created with a written work at their center. We strive to create a place for people to engage with new literature on an exciting, interactive and intimate level.

How would you characterize the influence of your YWW experience in your life?

Boundless. Full of lifelong friendships. Constantly motivating me to create community.

What’s the best advice you can give a Young Writer (in general or in your specific genre)?

Let your genres bleed into others. Turn your poetry into plays. Turn your novel into a 30-second song. Turn your journal into fiction. Turn your pages into a fire and invite your friends over to warm themselves. Place canned goods, still in their cans, into the fire and talk about what’s next. At some unexpected moment the canned goods will explode and scatter burning work everywhere. Scare yourselves. 

Where can we find you online?