We’re pleased to welcome Segacy Roberts as the development associate at Words Without Borders. After graduating from Dartmouth with a degree in English literature, Segacy returned home to New York, where she’s worked in post-production, education, and nonprofits, and as a freelance brand strategist for women artists and entrepreneurs of color. We spoke with Segacy about her love of literature, travel, and NYC.
Words Without Borders (WWB): What drew you to Words Without Borders/literature in translation?
Segacy Roberts (SR): As a first-generation American, I had to learn to navigate many worlds at once. I grew to not only be cognizant of different worldviews, but to seek them out whenever possible. American schools often leave students with the impression that English-language literature is the only literature worth exploring. It’s a very limiting perspective and denies people the color and enrichment found in literature from across the globe, stagnating their understanding of and empathy for other cultures. It’s something that I’d like to see change and it’s an issue WWB has been an important force in addressing.
WWB: What do you look for in a good book?
SR: What I love most about fiction is its transportive quality and I gravitate toward books that immerse me in an entirely new world. I love fantasy and dystopian fiction and I am particularly fond of works with hints of magical realism or that borrow from fairytale and folklore traditions.
WWB: As someone who loves to travel, what are some of the places you’ve visited that have inspired you?
SR: Something that has always interested me is how the lingering traces of imperialism and colonialism manifest in former colonies. It’s like this omnipresent phantom that you can sense even when you can’t see it clearly. My family is from the Caribbean, and observing the small ways in which many of the islands there have shifted, remixed, acknowledged, ignored, accepted, rejected, or revolted against their history of European rule is fascinating. It’s a subject that I’ve always been drawn to in my own writing.
WWB: As a native New Yorker, do you find that the city continues to inspire you?
SR: There are different New Yorks. You can live your whole life in this city and only see your version of it. Every now and again I come across something—whether it’s a hole-in-the wall I’ve never noticed or a conversation I’ve overheard—that reminds me that I’ve probably only seen about 10 percent of what New York has to offer. There’s endless inspiration here if you keep your eyes open.
WWB: Beyond books and travel, what are your passions/hobbies?
SR: I think a hobby that would be most surprising to some of my friends and family would be my passion for all things food related. I absolutely love to cook and enjoy spending the time making a decadent three-course meal, even if it’s just for myself. I’d also say I spend quite a bit of time watching shows about people cooking, baking, or involved in a competition about cooking or baking. Bonus points if it combines these things with travel or if it includes Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, or British humor.