Behind the Masthead: Aria Curtis
The wonderful Aria Curtis, incoming International Editor, spoke with intern Sarah Todd Stansbury about travel, writing, and reading.
STS: What drew you to the position of International Editor?
AC: Oh, wow. Where to start. I think my upbringing had a lot to do with it. My mother is Iranian and my father is American, and I went to an International School where I was in a Spanish-English bilingual program. Most of my friends were from different countries, or at least their parents were. So there were always a lot of languages flying around, a lot of cultural and political things going on, and I was always trying to make sense of it in any way I knew how. I was lucky enough to be exposed to some great world literature very early on- a lot of work from Latin America, which I immediately latched on to. But literary translation itself wasn’t something that I was drawn to or thought critically about until I read From the Observatory by Julio Cortazar, translated by Ann McLean. It absolutely blew my mind. Absolutely stunning.
STS: What is the thing you absolutely cannot leave home without?
AC: I feel like I should say a water bottle, because we live in a desert. But the truth is that I have a hard time remembering and spend most of May-September in a state of severe dehydration. I always have something to write with. A good ball point pen, definitely. Sunglasses. A sense of humor.
STS: What is your favorite childhood memory?
AC: Waking up at the crack of dawn and playing with my sister and father. My mother would sleep in my father would always get up with us and play with dolls and stuffed animals. We could have played for hours and hours and hours but I guess in some effort to preserve his sanity, my father would ask what ten things is Barbie going to do. I hated this and pushed against it against it every chance I got. I didn’t like putting limits on time or what exactly was going to happen. But I suppose in some ways this planted the seed for my understanding of both traditional and unconventional forms of narrative storytelling.
STS: Do you have any sort of ritual or practice when you write?
AC: Yeah, I usually write very, very early in the morning. I wake up around 5:30 or sometimes 5:00, depending. I try to get into it as soon after I wake up as possible, so I avoid checking email or my phone beforehand. I make some coffee and then get started. There’s something that I really like about being in that half-sleep state. Ideally, my subconscious is preserved in some way, and my self-consciousness is muted. My sister got me into the idea of morning pages after she read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve been hooked ever since.
STS: Where in the world would you like to visit that you’ve never been to before?
AC: I’ll be visiting Iran for the first time this summer, which has been number one for as long as I can remember. Mexico City is next on my list.
STS: What are some books that have had a profound effect on you?
AC: The aforementioned From the Observatory by Julio Cortázar. Drown by Junot Díaz, Almost everything by Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison and Carlos Fuentes. Poetry by Anne Sexton and Forough Farrokhzad. Outer Dark by Cormac McCarthy. Spectacle by Susan Steinberg,