Pigeon Pages Interview
with Michele Filgate


Do you have a bird story or favorite feathered friend?

When I was a kid, my family rescued a baby robin that we found in our backyard. We nursed it back to health. Fluffy became best friends with our Doberman pinscher, Snickers. The bird would perch on top of his head whenever he was outside, and they’d both relax in the sun. It was adorable.

What is your most memorable reading experience?

It’s hard to choose just one! So many books have stayed with me over the years. But I have to go with one of my favorite stories of all time: Matilda by Roald Dahl. The first time I read it, Dahl made me feel like bookworms have special superpowers. (And I still feel that way!)

What makes you most excited about What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About?

The fact that this book can inspire important and difficult conversations between mothers and their children. Nayomi Munaweera’s mother sent her a generous and supportive email after she read her essay, and we included it as a postscript. Breaking silences can allow people to heal or attempt to repair their relationships.

To tweet or not to tweet?

Tweet, but don’t let Twitter take over your life or distract you from your own writing. And log out when you’re feeling overwhelmed or annoyed by your Twitter feed.

What books do you have in your bag right now?

How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell—a much-needed book while in the middle of promoting my anthology. One of my favorite quotes so far: “I hear, see, and smell things in a world where others also hear, see, and smell me. And it takes a break to remember that: a break to do nothing, to just listen, to remember in the deepest sense what, when, and where we are.” And I’m about to start Milkman by Anna Burns.

Can you tell us your favorite rejection story?

The essay that led to my book deal was cut from another book, but I turned around and sold my own anthology. Sometimes it really does feel like everything happens for a reason.

What literary journals do you love?

Pigeon Pages, Slice, Gulf Coast, and many others! I’m still mourning the fact that Tin House will no longer publish their print issues.

What shakes your tail feathers?

Tori Amos! Especially her early albums.

What advice do you have for fledgling writers?

Don’t worry about what other people will think or say about your work. Write like no one will ever read it. And don’t shy away from writing about things that scare you.

What other eggs do you have in your basket right now?

Right now I’m a grad student at NYU, so I’m working on short stories. I’m also writing some new essays.


Michele Filgate is a contributing editor at Literary Hub and the editor of an anthology based on her Longreads essayWhat My Mother and I Don’t Talk About. Currently she is an M.F.A. student at NYU, where she is the recipient of the Stein Fellowship. Her work has appeared in LongreadsThe Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe Boston GlobeRefinery29SliceThe Paris Review DailyTin HouseGulf CoastThe RumpusSalonInterview MagazineBuzzfeedThe Barnes & Noble ReviewPoets & WritersCNN.comFine Books & Collections MagazineDAME MagazineThe Brooklyn QuarterlyTime Out New YorkPeopleThe Daily BeastO, The Oprah MagazineMen's JournalVultureVol. 1 Brooklyn, The Star TribuneThe Quarterly ConversationThe Brooklyn Rail, and other publications. She teaches creative nonfiction for The Sackett Street Writers' Workshop and Catapult and is the founder of the Red Ink literary series. In 2016, Brooklyn Magazine named her one of "The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture." She’s a former board member of the National Book Critics Circle.