Franny Zhang

An Interview with Serina Gousby

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! I’m really interested in getting your perspective as a young writer of color who’s deeply involved in the Boston literary community. To that speak to that, you’re the Development Assistant & Boston Writers of Color Group Coordinator at Grubstreet. Can you tell me a bit more about the BWOC group? I’m curious about what led to its creation and what projects you’ve been a part of.

The Boston Writers of Color formed around 2016, as a response to feedback and opinions from the GrubStreet community, whom really yearned for a literary space and community specifically for people of color. Jonathan Escoffery, whom we consider the BWOC Group Founder, lead the group when it first started, and now the Boston Writers of Color Group Manager, Sonya Larson, and I are supporting the group on behalf of GrubStreet. We plan monthly programmed events and socials throughout the year, send a monthly newsletter full of events and opportunities, and have a growing Facebook and MeetUp group where it’s more interactive and resourceful. Since August, I’ve helped plan a few socials, give out resources for MFA programs, share great literary events happening throughout the Boston area, and so much more. It’s been a great experience because as a woman of color in Boston, sometimes I don’t always see myself in the literary world, and this group doesn’t make me feel alone.


I’m part of the BWOC group, and I think you guys are doing an awesome job fostering a literary space where writers of color can belong. I love the sense of connection the group provides. Are there other aspects of the Boston literary landscape right now that you’re aware of and find exciting? 

There are so many literary events happening, pretty much every week! Plus, I’m noticing more and more poets and essayists/bloggers trying to build their names in Boston, and I just love that the literary community is more visible. However, there is still much more work to do, like having affordable work and performance spaces for creatives, because we don’t necessarily have a writer’s home in Boston yet.


Let’s talk a bit about your own writing. What was an early piece you worked on, and why was it important to you to tell that particular story?

Back in May of 2018, I wrote a blog post about my fascination with the poet Phillis Wheatley, because I was very upset that I couldn’t find her headstone, due to the fact that there’s no information on her burial place. For being the first African-American woman to publish a book of poetry, the remaining years of her life is very tragic, and I feel like she needs a burial place, other than the beautiful statue of her on Commonwealth Ave, where people can pay their respects. Even if we don’t know the exact location of her burial, at least put a memorial stone at a cemetery where she may have been laid. I’ll write a letter to the mayor if I have to. Her story is going to forever stay on my mind, and I’ll be writing about her more.


Embarrassingly, I don’t believe I’d heard of Phillis Wheatley before talking with you! But that also means I’m grateful to you for being out there to champion her story and cause. I wish you the best of luck with and hope more people will get involved! Are there pieces of writing you’re working on now that are similarly important to you?

I’m currently working on a chapbook of poems that will highlight important moments of my life, as well as a mixture of poems that are influenced by music. I’m only on about two poems right now, so in very early stages, but I just would love to one day be a poet with a published book, and see it at local bookstores all over. I’m also really interested in screenwriting, so I would love to learn the basics of it for an idea that I have.


Times are somewhat troubled right now, both in publishing and the world at large. As a young writer, what keeps you hopeful about literature?  

I know for a fact that opportunities will never stop for writers. That keeps me hopeful. There’s always going to be someone somewhere who needs a writer to help them escape reality with their novel or ease their stress with a poem. I know eventually, my time will come when I can be the one to help the reader.



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