Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!
This is Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones. She is a writer from Puerto Rico whose poems and short fiction have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, wildness, Ambit Magazine, Radar Poetry, and other publications. In 2019, she received an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University, where she also taught poetry to undergraduate students. Her chapbook, Bedroom Pop, was published by dancing girl press in 2021. In 2022, she was awarded a Letras Boricuas Fellowship by the Flamboyán Arts Fund and the Mellon Foundation. Claudia lives in Brooklyn, New York. The Hurricane Book (Rose Metal Press, 2023) is her first full-length book. To learn more, please visit www.cacevedoquinones.com.
Where Claudia Acevedo-Quiñones Writes
I moved to NYC in 2006 with little more than a suitcase and backpack. Seventeen years later, I'm still in NYC and most of my belongings fit inside a sedan. Not much has changed about my living situation since I was 18 years old (probably due to the fact that I'm single and make less than 50k in an overpriced city). The main difference now is that I share a bathroom with one stranger as opposed to twenty. Despite my circumstances and the choices that led me here, I deeply want to carve out and nurture a space that is entirely my own, ideally a house. It might take a while to get there, so I make the most of what I can afford, which right now is a room in a shared apartment.
I’m in the process of unpacking–this is my 20th move in 17 years–so there are tools, empty vases, and Christmas lights where books should be. Because I move so much, I make sure to only keep two boxes' worth of books at any given time. Maybe this is a strange thing for a writer to admit.
I did start buying furniture as a way of manifesting a more permanent situation, pieces I know I'd love to have in a real house. My desk chair is one of them. Blue velvet and cane backs make me feel elegant. The desk belonged to a friend who rolled it over to me before he left the city. I removed the wheels and replaced them with wooden blocks. The position of the desk is important. When you work where you sleep, you need to not be looking at the bed, even if the only alternative is staring at the wall.
I hang things up as soon as I move into a room. Photos and prints don't take up too much space, so I keep almost all the letters and photographs I receive. I take them with me everywhere, framing the ones I like best. This piece was made by my friend Tyler. If you sit very close to it, you can't make out that it's actually my face. It serves as a reminder to take a step back if I forget who I am.
I bought the lamp on my nightstand in Queens 15 years ago, and it has stayed with me through 15+ moves, even though it's not the most practical (it gives off a red light; oddly, I've never had to change the bulb!). Next to it is an armchair that I hope will live in my future office. It's perfect for reading and writing first drafts, which I never do on a computer.
One of the lovely things about this bedroom is that it comes with a window that takes up most of a wall and looks over the backyard. After living in a basement for a year, waking up with the sun and being able to take in so much green have been positive for my mental health and overall outlook, which boosts my productivity. Sunlight, backyard access, and central air feel like a privilege.
Most of what I write is centered on the idea of home. I think it’s because I’ve never fully felt at home anywhere. I expect my work to change when I finally stay put somewhere and have the space to be fully myself, to wash over where I live. Until then, this will do.