“There’s an enchantment in the idea that we can experience the consciousness of people who have died thousands of years ago, through writing and poetry. That never ceases to amaze me.”
With his debut novel, The Latinist (WW Norton), Mark Prins has created a fantastic, Highsmith-ian novel of Oxford intrigue. We talk about the failed novel that led to The Latinist, his background in classics & poetry (Latin/Roman & otherwise), metamorphoses (Ovidian & otherwise), the challenges of (& resources for) writing across gender, the Blake poem that transformed him, and why it’s important to Be Kind To Your Reader. We also get into Ovid’s telling of the myth of Daphne & Apollo & how/why he subverted it for The Latinist, the need to balance character & desire with plot, how he uses academic themes to illuminate his characters, the question of who decides what gets preserved and represented in history, the fun of creating a fictional Roman poet & writing their choliambic verses (& the joy of reciting Latin poetry), his literary influences, the importance of his time at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the one thing you should REALLY consider before entering an MFA program, his interest in the metaverse, synthetic realities, and capitalism, and more! Give it a listen! And go read The Latinist!
“I could never have written this novel without my MFA at Iowa. I needed a lot of time and space to write.”
“Translations are most interesting to me as snapshots of the time and place in which they were being translated.”
About our Guest
Mark Prins is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of fellowships from the Truman Capote Literary Trust, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. His debut novel is The Latinist.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Mark by Nina Cochran. It’s on my instagram.