Porochista Khakpour was born in Tehran in 1978 and raised in the Greater Los Angeles area (South Pasadena, to be exact). Her first language was Farsi, her second (and luckily mostly forgotten) tongue, Valley Girl. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and The Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars MA program. She has been awarded fellowships from Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo.
She began writing as an arts and entertainment journalist—her subjects have spanned from clubs (Paul Oakenfold!) to couture (Paul Poiret!); Maggie Gyllenhaal (Maggie’s first big feature!) to Fabio (Porochista’s first feature at 16!); New York City’s finest drinking establishments (Paper magazine bar columnist, 2000-2001, as well as New York magazine online bar critic) to rural Illinois’s most dangerous skydiving compound (2004 staff writer stint at The Chicago Reader). Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Daily Beast, The Village Voice, The Chicago Reader, Paper, Flaunt, Nylon, Bidoun, Alef, Canteen, nerve.com and FiveChapters.com, among others.
She currently spends a third of her time in New York City and two thirds three hours away in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where she teaches Fiction at Bucknell University.
Question: How do you get through writer’s block?
Khakpour: Well I have an Internet addiction – a really, really bad, bad form of Internet addiction where, you know, I have spent full eight hour days on the Internet, to the point where I should just become like one of those employed bloggers or something because I can’t stop. An average day I’ll probably be on the Internet for about four hours. I have 12 to 15 blogs I might read regularly. Then I have to go through all my news sites – conventional news sites, alternative news sites, compare, contrast; know exactly what’s going on in the world several times a day. So . . . But for me the Internet, on the up side of it, is sort of an endless source of inspiration. There’s no excuse anymore, I think, for writer’s block really when you could go hit up a number of eccentric blogs on topics from . . . You know you could read the blog of pro-anorexic women. Or you could read the blog of soldiers in Iraq. And hear those . . . And blogging offers this sort of, I think, very genuine, first person universe that’s . . . that’s endlessly fascinating to me. I mean that . . . When you can find those blogs that sort of feel like diaries, it’s so refreshing. And there’s always some kernel in those for me to get very inspired by. So I generally get way too many ideas from the news and blogs. And I sometimes encourage my students to do the same. All those hours that you’re fiddling and doing god knows what on the Internet, you can justify it and say you’re actually creating some form of art in a sneaky way.