Jordan Hartt


Jordan Hartt is a reader, writer, writing teacher, editor, and community & events organizer. He’s the managing editor of Kahini magazine and facilitates three annual writing retreats per year: three on the island of Kaua’i and one in the city of Kampala, Uganda.

In the past decade, participants in Hartt’s writing programs have published three thousand individual times in literary magazines, including all major magazines; released over two hundred books on nationally and internationally ranked presses; been featured in the Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, and Best American Short Stories anthologies; and short-listed for the Caine Prize for African Writing.

Hartt’s writing has appeared in about forty literary magazines and journals. His collection of stories, “Leap,” appeared in 2015. He is currently at work on a new collection.

Where or when were you the happiest?
Whenever I’m working to bring people together through reading and writing. Which is pretty much all the time.

What is your favorite season? 
All of them.

What living person do you most admire?
People who live with empathy for others and constantly seek to understand the world better.

If you could be a non-human animal for a day, what would you be?
Anyone with wings or gills.

What is your most marked characteristic?

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
When I forget there’s a difference between the urgent and the important.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hard to say. I’ve found I can learn something from everyone.

What do your friends say about you behind your back?
“Book nerd.”

Who are your favorite characters in fiction?
In terms of memorable “round” characters, Kezia Burnell and Belisa Crepusculario foremost. Then, in some order: Obi Okonkwo, Niakoro, Ad’jibid’ji, Edna Pontillier, Doctor Mandelet, Friar Laurence, Clara, Carla, Sethe, Paul D, Mr. Biswas, Dorian Gray, Jim, Huck, Alleluia Cone, Gibreel Farishta, Saladin Chamcha, Isabella, Viola, Olivia, Malvolio, Andrew Aguecheek, Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse, Mercutio, Eveline, the older waiter, the younger waiter, the old man, the old man and the sea, the marlin, Jewel, Cora, Matt King, Hatsue, Ishmael Chambers, Stephen Dedalus, Gretta Conroy, Jonathan Trout, Linda and Stanley Burnell, Clarissa Dalloway, Sonny, Roy, John, Rose, Flo, Iago, Othello, Michael Cassio, Alice Liddell, the Chesire Cat, Mario Jiménez, Hamlet, the ghost, Polonius, John of Gaunt, Robin Hood, Sula, dozens of others that I’m leaving out because there are so many. What a great question. Let’s move on.

What fictional characters do you most dislike?
Flat or stereotyped characters, who don’t reflect the complexity of what makes up a human being.

Who are your favorite musicians?
Ocean waves, wind in the trees, rain.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Anyone who develops their talents in order to live for the benefit of others. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Eddie Aikau.

What talent do you wish you had?
The ability to, in every interaction, remember to ask myself “what is best for the short- and long-term health and happiness of this individual,” and then act and speak accordingly.

What is your present state of mind?
Joy, optimism.

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Those who bring people together.

What is your favorite journey?
This one. I’ve been thinking a lot about the first voyagers to discover the Hawaiian islands, how they steered with the stars, birds, seeds, journeying toward a land that they knew was there, even though they couldn’t see it yet. I feel like I’m on a similar journey with a some like-minded people, working to build experiences that help people live deeper, more connected, happier lives, and even though we can’t see it yet, we know it’s there.

What living person do you most despise?
No one.

What is your greatest fear?
Physical pain.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Buying books.

What is your greatest hope?
That everything is unfolding the way it’s supposed to.

What do you most value in your friends?
Empathy, curiosity, humor.

Who are your favorite writers?
Oh wow. A short list: James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, Katherine Mansfield, and James Joyce.

What is your motto?
“Already, but not yet.”