The Quarantine Tapes

The Quarantine Tapes 146: Kiese Laymon

Episode Summary

“A lot of times we want every line to be its own character, and you can do that. I like some of that writing, but is it in the service of the paragraph? And is the paragraph in service of the page? And is that page in service of the book? And the larger question is that book in the service of a liberatory vision?”

Episode Notes

Guest host Eddie Glaude is joined by writer Kiese Laymon on episode 146 of The Quarantine Tapes. They connect over their shared background as writers from Mississippi and Eddie asks Kiese about his worries prior to the release of his recent memoir.

Kiese talks about his relationship to the margins in his writing. They take a deep look at the craft of writing, discussing influences, revision, and what makes a Kiese Laymon sentence. Finally, Kiese talks movingly about the relationship he finds between writing and prayer.


Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. 

Laymon is a Contributing Editor at Vanity Fair and Oxford American. He has written for New York Times, Esquire, VSB, ESPN The Magazine, Paris Review, NPR, Colorlines, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Ebony, Guernica, Fader, Travel & Leisure, Lit Hub, and many others. A graduate of Oberlin College, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University.