Meet the Pair
MENTEE HAZEL AGICHA & MENTOR NIKKI PALUMBO
Hazel Agicha is a sophomore who loves anything plants, cats and reading. Her goals are to get into a college where she can pursue business and finance. She moved to to America five years ago from India.
Nikki Palumbo is a writer and comedian based in New York. Nikki’s writing (and face*) has appeared on The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Funny or Die, Reductress*, the Google Assistant and their folks’ fridge. Nikki recently wrote for the inaugural 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, hosted by Nikki Glaser, and worked as a story producer on the YouTube Originals weekly music show, RELEASED. They were named one of WhoHaha’s “35 LGBTQ Creators We Love” in 2018 and a Yes, And Laughter Lab finalist in 2019.
Q&A with Hazel & Nikki
On May 20, join us for a special salon to celebrate the launch of Taking Root: The Girls Write Now 2022 Anthology, co-emceed by mentee-mentor pair Hazel Agicha and Nikki Palumbo. Hazel and Nikki have been working together for the past year, and Nikki is a member of the Girls Write Now Anthology Committee. This Q&A was conducted by Girls Write Now Fellow Vahni Kurra.
VAHNI KURRA: Tell me about the piece you wrote for the anthology this year. Why are you excited to have this piece published?
HAZEL AGICHA: The piece that I wrote this year originated as a shower thought and my hope was to turn that small thought into something impactful. It excites me to know that people will read this piece and use it as inspiration to do the same.
VK: What is it like working on the Anthology Committee? Why do you enjoy it?
NIKKI PALUMBO: I love working on the Anthology Committee because I’m selfish and want to read as many pieces early as I can. Every year I’m stunned by how little editing we actually have to do because the submissions are already pretty spectacular and publication-ready.
VK: What has this year been like for both of you and what has excited you about working on the anthology piece?
HA: This year has given me a lot of insight. We made connections with fellow mentees and mentors, learned more about ourselves and furthered our prior knowledge on how to write.
NP: Working with Hazel was—twist—not really work at all. The particular piece she wrote for the anthology came to her in some kind of fever dream and she was so eager to keep working on it and receptive to feedback about ways to shape it. The week before she submitted it, she was even saying my lines, like “OK, we need a connection here” and “Oh, I can cut this because I liked how I said it earlier.”
VK: What does the theme of taking root mean to you?
HA: To me, taking root isn’t just figuring out where you come from and what made you who you are, it’s about how you control it and use it to create new things. It’s about taking your roots and creating branches.
NP: Can I just say “ditto”? What do you mean that’s the “coward’s way out”? Okay, fine. Personally, I’ve translated taking root to mean finding your center of gravity— embarking on the lifelong process of becoming yourself.