Interview – Phillip T. Stephens

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Like Trump, I relish the art of prevarication. I, however, will never deny it. My first fiction writing teacher, the late and wonderful John Vandezande (Night Driving) once shared an anecdote about miners brawling in an Upper Peninsula tavern. A student asked if it was true or he made it up. He replied, “What difference does it make?” That was the moment I knew writing was no joke.

When you create, what inspires you?

Everything inspires me. Music, film, a statue or painting in a museum, watching a couple argue in a café, arguing with my wife Carol, the way cats interact with humans or stalk mice.

Tell us about the specific inspiration behind one or each of your accepted pieces.

The piece speaks for itself. It wrote this in the eighties when I was working as a community and poverty rights activist in Detroit. The only apartment I could afford was in Highland Park, which had the highest murder rate in the country at the time. My desk was a typing table in front of a window so I could see the snow fall while I typed. When I took a break from writing, I noticed a mouse creep along my window sill, trying not to wake my tuxedo cat. He didn’t notice that she had one eye open.

What is your medium of choice? Why?

Fiction, but I write anything. I prefer fiction because I cut my teeth writing bad fiction in junior high and high school. I didn’t try writing poetry until late in college, when I took a class with Phil Legler who was better known for being institutionalized with Anne Sexton than anything he wrote.

How did you first discover your love for creating?

My father was a Baptist minister, and he and a buddy wrote a Gunsmoke spoof for the high school youth group to perform. I was six or seven years old and thought it was so funny, I couldn’t wait for high school to do it again. I started writing sketches for my friends to record with me on my father’s cassette, but no one wanted to do it. But I finally wrote a spoof of Miles Standish in junior high that a teacher liked, and that cemented the burn.

fēlan is old English for feel. What makes you feel attraction?

That’s like asking If I’m a T or A man (Triolet or Abstract).
twitter: @stephens_pt

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One thought on “Interview – Phillip T. Stephens

  1. Pingback: issue 11 artists | fēlan

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