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The Asterisk Conversations #1

2 December 2020

#1 | SIMON(E) VAN SAARLOOS, NALO HOPKINSON AND TIRSA WITH

- Transcript available here -

In the first Writers Unlimited podcast, philosopher and writer Simon(e) van Saarloos invites the internationally-beloved storyteller and Professor of Creative Writing Nalo Hopkinson for an Asterisk conversation – “een sterretjesgesprek”. Nalo Hopkinson is part of the lineage and legacy of legendary sci-fi writers Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler who are known for the way that they write about queer sexuality and the way they write sci-fi from racialized subjects.

Asterik conversations expand and overlap, trusting that different themes and threads interweave and cross, influencing each other. The asterisk resists the idea of core business, of a single issue struggle (Audre Lorde) or truth with a capital T. As Jack Halberstam writes in Trans*: the asterisk refuses to “situate transition in relation to destination, a final form, a specific shape, or an established configuration of desire and identity”.

The Asterisk Conversations features each episode a writer overseas and invites a maker based in The Netherlands to create a new work in response. This way, each podcast ends with the beginning of a new conversation. And this time it was very obvious that we should invite Tirsa With to respond. Tirsa With is an audio-storyteller, and she builds on the tradidtions of her Maroon Surinamese heritage which taught her the importance of multiplicity of voice and the way audio creates space for this. Tirsa has decided to respond with her story on the questions that Nalo and I share on non-linear time. 

Read the story 'Nia' written by Tirsa With for The Asterisk Conversations #1 here , illustration: @ajsaajsaajsa

Simon(e) van Saarloos is a philosopher, writer, columnist and debate moderator. She writes literary reviews, interviews, essays, opinion pieces and fiction. In 2015, some of her columns written for the nrc.next newspaper were collected as Ik deug / deug niet (I am good / bad). In 2016 she performed on stage in Holy F with actresses Sophie van Winden and Eva Marie de Waal. That same year her novel De vrouw die (The Woman Who) was published, followed in 2018 by ENZ. - De methode Wilders (The Wilders Method, ETC.) and in 2019 by Herdenken herdacht. Een essay om te vergeten (Rethinking Commemoration: An essay to forget). She writes her name as Simon(e) to point out the presence of gender in names.

Nalo Hopkinson is an internationally-beloved storyteller and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having ‘an imagination that most of us would kill for,’ her work incorporates and questions issues such as race, class and sexuality, but also imagines possible futures. Her Afro-Caribbean, Canadian, and American influences shine in bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders. Nalo’s first book, Brown Girl in the Ring (1998), won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. In 1999 Hopkinson received the John W. Campbell Award for the Best New Writer in Science Fiction. Her later novels like Midnight Robber (2000), Skin Folk (2001) and The Salt Roads (2003) also received various nominations and awards. In recent years, Hopkinson has focused on post-colonialism and resistant narratives.


Tirsa With is an audio storyteller. She creates audio dramas, works as a voice actor, hosts and speaks at events and connects through content. Building on the oral traditions of her Maroon Surinamese heritage taught her the importance of multiplicity of voice, and the way audio creates space for this. With graduated from Amsterdam University College in 2020 with a BA in Humanities, focusing on literary studies. She minored in English and Africana Studies at Hunter College in New York. Tirsa With continues to develop her creative craft through various fellowships by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and the Dutch Public Broadcasting Fund for writers and audio producers. In 2020 her short story "Schrammen voel je tenminste” was published in the Dutch version of the internationally acclaimed anthology de Goede Immigrant by Uitgeverij Pluim.

Credits The Asterisk Conversations #1

Guests: Nalo Hopkinson & Tirsa With

Host: Simon(e) van Saarloos

Editor: Ilonka Reintjens

Audio editor: Jörgen Gario Unom JG

Transcription: Terry Ezra

Special thanks: Mitchel Renardus
Lost In Sargam by | e s c p | https://escp-music.bandcamp.com
Music promoted by https://www.free-stock-music.com
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/