Beyond the Farm: Lisa Ramee and Voicing the Experience of Multicultural Youth
By Yanshuo Zhang
For this issue of the newsletter, we spoke to PWR’s Student Services Officer, Lisa Ramee. Author of two acclaimed books, Something to Say and A Good Kind of Trouble, Ramee said that “I steal from my own life” to re-create the rich but often troubled experience of multicultural youth. As an author who writes for a young audience, Ramee confesses that it was a lack of literary representation of youth of color that drove her to write for this demographic.
Growing up in the multicultural LA region, young Lisa had many friends from different racial and cultural backgrounds. Yet, as these young people grew up, they also grew apart: many of them eventually blended into their own racial-cultural groups, and the generative diversity of their friendship seemed to dwindle. It was this early experience that inspired Lisa to examine what it means to grow up in a multicultural environment as minority youth. “I want to write to the young Lisa and [my friends],” she reflected in an interview. This urge to speak to her younger self helps Lisa create a colorful tapestry of the interactions between her African American, Japanese American, and Puerto Rican characters in her book, A Good Kind of Trouble.
In this book, Lisa explores the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on young Black women and the ups and downs of inter-racial friendships. Like her other book, Something to Say, the coming-of-age of youth of color takes center stage in Lisa’s writing. With an MA in English literature and Creative Writing, Lisa is also very experimental in her writing career. First moving from short stories to novels, and now shifting from “realist” novels to fantasy, Lisa is working on her third book, a fantasy about Black youth and dragons, a rare but exciting combination to challenge mainstream American culture’s stereotypes of African Americans.
Speaking about her favorite part of the writing process, Lisa smiled: “I enjoy the revision process and love being in society and interacting with people.” She shared her joy of working as the Student Services Officer at PWR, a position that allows her to have regular interactions with students and lecturers. With this full-time job, Lisa now takes advantage of her weekends to work in smaller amounts of time, a tactic that lends itself well to her busy schedule. She expressed her deep gratitude of being in the supportive environment at PWR and being surrounded by other writers and learners. “We all have something to say,” she affirmed. Indeed, writing is largely about giving voice to people and communities, expressing the intricate and sometimes forgotten connections between things. PWR’s community of writers is enriched by Lisa’s presence; may her stories continue to say something important about minority communities, unveiling their deepest desires and imaginations.