April 21, 2017
Patricia Budd, author of Kiss
“Poetry requires that you clarify your emotional responses to experiences, real or imagined. Poetry in some ways simplifies this complicated process. You can choose to use or omit details as you build to the emotional “truth” you wish to convey. This is true for any kind of writing. Check your facts, sure – but you are not a court reporter at a life-or-death trial. Your tools reside right there in your own flesh.”


April 21, 2017
Michael Chin, author of The Leo Burke Finish
“As anyone who reads ‘The Leo Burke Finish’ will surely recognize, wrestling is integral to my life. I had a friend and old workshop partner who had watched wrestling as a teenager and may have said it best–when you’re invested in this world, you don’t so much watch it as live it, because this particular brand of entertainment, for its genre-bending qualities (is it a sport? a reality show? complete fiction?) all but demands immersion from its true fans. ”


April 13, 2017
Susan Pagani, author of The Fledgling
“With essays, I try to look at the situation and the characters (myself, other people, a goose) with empathy and humor. I say try because, if there’s conflict involved, in the moment and sometimes for a long time after, empathy can be a hard business — the other person is just bad and wrong and the situation is not funny. Time seems to make it easier to see the shades of a thing and my own missed opportunities and failings. ”


April 6, 2017
Adam Tavel, author of Seamus Heaney in Community College Summer School
“I’ve tried to embody a writing practice that is as natural as breathing or eating a sandwich. I write with children bouncing around the house, in grocery store parking lots, on little breaks between the classes I teach…these stolen moments compress and focus my attention. I reject ritual or the privileging of writing time separated from the pressures of daily life.”


March 30, 2017
JoDean Nicolette, author of Trail Magic
“When I claimed my identity as a writer, I began to feel much better about myself, wholer, more complete. And I certainly liked myself more. Writing allowed me to expand my right brain, the part of my psychology and intellect that wasn’t governed by rigid concepts like facts, algorithms, and schedules. I felt more fluid, more intuitive, more creative, more graceful, more able to just be present and observe my life.”


March 23, 2017
Robert Miltner, author of Idleness & Indolence: Love Song To Eurydice, Short Line: Epistle To Eurydice, and Charcoal Sketch: Eurydice
“These Eurydice poems are a sort of fractured or fragmented prose poem wherein readers’ expectations are intentionally disrupted. I create a text site that challenges readers to revise their expectation and be open to the possibility of surprise, discovery.”


March 16, 2017
Beth Sherman, author of Adephagia and The Blue Cup
“Writing is about control, to a large extent. I always think of it as a balancing act between your creative right brain side and your more logical left brain side, which has to take all those craft elements I talked about before into consideration. I’m definitely more of a left brain person. I don’t like to get messy on the page.”


March 9, 2017
Susan Grimm, author of Onset of My Quonset and Or Else
“For years, I was kind of obsessed with line breaks (and by extension stanza breaks). I really like that position at the end of the line where the word, emphasized, hovers before plunging into more context and possible duality of meaning—the idea of framing, the possibility that you could understand a poem by only reading these last words perhaps.”


March 7, 2017
Jonathan Harper, author of Black Market Fish
“No matter what the writing project is, I’m constantly mining – taking personal experiences and reshaping them to fit into a unique story.”


March 2, 2017
Ashton Kamburoff, author of Elegy for Bob Kaufman
“This piece is about losing music, losing sound. Once I find a silent space, I become very protective of preserving it.”


February 23, 2017
Carla Kirchner, author of Tidal Volume
“When I want to explore an idea or image, I choose poetry; when I want to explore an event, I choose fiction.”


February 16, 2017
Beth Bilderback, author of Blackbird
“Like most writers, I’m constantly trying to make sense of things that happen by writing them down, to the point where sometimes an event, or even a feeling, doesn’t feel quite real until I’ve described it.”


February 9, 2017
Krista Cox, author of Dream Man #5
“My Dream Man series emerged after several years of being single after a divorce. Basically, I decided to imagine myself the “perfect” man. It ended up becoming an exploration of society’s and my own expectations of men and relationships, and (of course) told me lots of uncomfortable things about myself.”


December 8, 2016
Liz Ahl, author of The Radiators in Ellen Reed House , The Radium Girls and Saturn V
“Sound is, of course, a kind of touch — in that sound is, essentially, the tiny organs of your inner ear being touched by sound waves. That linkage is something I will try to think about more deeply — and I thank you for taking me there.”


December 2, 2016
Annie Woodford, author of Candling and Melisma
“I write about my daughter and my childhood pretty obsessively. I don’t really know what draws me to these themes, but I guess they’re where I feel most alive and aware. On some level both of those poems are about being on the cusp, developmentally, as a child. They are also about the presence of death and aging in our lives.”


December 2, 2016
Andrea Witzke Slot, author of The Palm of Proprioception and Last Day to Save on Sarah Jaeger’s “Throwing and Alternative Video”
“When a new piece is coming—when I hear a new line circling and feel that urgent need to get to my desk/journal/computer—I just kind of jump in and see what emerges. Only once I get started do I see what rhythmic space(s) might be required for that emerging piece.”


November 28, 2016
P.J. Williams, author of For My Father, Who Will Someday Die
“Certainly writers know just as well as anyone the shortcomings of words as merely representational things. While this poem may be the closest thing I can come up with to attempt to communicate the multitudinous tension I feel for death and how I witness it, I’m drawn to that gap, too – that inability to fully communicate, to fully grasp despite the perpetual longing to do so.”


November 23, 2016
Katherine Williams, author of Boûts-Rimés: God’s Grandeur (1934)
“When you want to get better at chess, you play people who are better than you. Same thing in poetry, jazz, science, conversation, anything that involves learning. First you copy the greats. When you feel experienced enough, you might ask a master a question and try to understand the answer. Eventually you enter into dialog.”


November 21, 2016
Patti White, author of Recipe
“In one way, it’s just following the recipe: preheating the oven, the yellow mixing bowl, egg yolks, then flour and salt, vanilla extract, and lots of sugar. The spin of the mixer, and then the whole thing goes into the oven.”


November 18, 2016
Larry Thacker, author of Unpacking
“I have a simple working mantra: Write, edit, read, submit. I try to be engaged in all of these at all times. If I feel the well running dry, I’m probably not reading enough.”


November 18, 2016
Kelly Morse, author of Quả Hồng Vàng
“I come to prose as a poet, so I’m very interested in creating rhythms within sentences, and looking at ways to tighten images. When I’m revising, I’ll break the sentences into lines, like I would a poem, so that I can look at their internal structure more closely.”


November 14, 2016
Brenda Miller and Julie Marie Wade, author of Heat Index
“At this point, I’m not thinking too hard about the meaning of these pieces; I’m putting them together the way I might a jigsaw. I think, especially in this information age, that our jobs as writers is to become a particular filter for the variety of experience and information we encounter hundreds of times a day.”


November 11, 2016
Jenny McBride, author of Climate Change My Body
“Something about the creative process of sculpting a poem requires my hand wrapped around a pen and the ink trailing across the page; letters appearing on a screen seem far less intimate, almost disconnected.”


November 9, 2016
Sarah Marie Kosch, author of Elusion
“Don’t be afraid to get weird! And don’t shy away from heavy revision. It’s easy to get attached, to call a piece ‘good enough’ when the work seems like to much, but sometimes what a story really needs is to be slashed into ribbons and rebuilt from the ground up.”


November 7, 2016
Jennifer Highland, author of The Insulator
“The voice kind of created itself in response to the subject, but once it emerged I tweaked it during the revision process to better match the various moods of the city that had moved me to write the piece—from sass and grit to a certain nostalgia.”


November 4, 2016
Austin Eichelberger, author of He’s a Wildflower
“I think the surest way to build a world around a reader is through the senses, so it’s how I try to ground all my writing, no matter what I’m portraying.”


November 2, 2016
Bobby Bolt, author of Alternative Air Source and Physical Geography Lecture
“I hold tightly to the belief that language has a life of its own, and often resists our control which we sometimes see when we struggle with the syntax of a line or group of lines in a poem.”


October 31, 2016
Maggie Bailey, author of Honeysuckle
“This poem is absolutely nostalgic, and I was drawing from my own childhood summers spent in Wareham, MA on the Cape Cod Canal. For me, the poem lives in that space where you are old enough to roam freely but young enough to be unbothered by puberty.”


October 21, 2016
Laura Tansley, author of Mirror Look At Me
“My father always said ‘do as I say not as I do’ but I still developed the same love of beer and biscuits despite his warnings.”


October 19, 2016
Anthony J. Mohr, author of Three Broken Hearts
“As I worked, the images lit up inside me and the dialogue crackled back to life, definite indications that what I put on the page is what happened.”


October 17, 2016
Leslie Maxwell, author of An Early History of Hang Gliding
“For me, I scrambled to try to get back in the same orbit I had been in before my mother died, and it took me a long time to realize I wouldn’t necessarily be able to get back.”


October 14, 2016
Grace Mattern, author of Widow Gardening
“Deep loss makes life seem unreal and unimaginable. Reading good writing about grief can remind us we’re not alone and that others have preceded us in making life real again and imagining themselves in to a future. That’s where I headed in writing the truth about death.”


October 12, 2016
Michael Lauchlan, author of Fog in Michigan and The Lave
“In our closest relationships, we only partially understand each other. We construct inner images that are (hopefully) somewhat related to the mysterious reality.”


October 7, 2016
Nandini Dhar, author of Quotidienne
“As a poet, I have to figure out my relationship to this language. And maybe this figuring out of the relationship is also the space where my own language is born.”


October 3, 2016
Sarah Abbott, author of Meeting Uncle Charlie
“As I wrote the essay, there were certain stories that stuck out to me. I didn’t plan what to include or what not to include, just chose as I went along.”


April 14, 2016
Billy Wallace, author of Ghostland Blues
“For me, a good story starts with the language. Startling, lyrical, sparse; it can go a lot of ways, be a lot of different styles but I want it to grab me off the bat and do something interesting.”


April 8, 2016
L.B. Thomas, author of Dead Animal Farm
“I was comfortable around dead animals because my parents expected me to be. The only time I remember my dad acknowledging that something was disgusting or disturbing was when he asked me to watch him skin an elk head.”


April 6, 2016
Christina Stoddard, author of Still Life with Pronoun and Scalpel
“I think the two extreme reactions to grief are to burn everything or to save everything that reminds you of the loss. The speaker’s answer to this problem is to engage in a deliberate removal, to recast the years the lovers spent together and find a way to hold onto her own history without including the lover anywhere in what she keeps of that time.”


April 2, 2016
Alex Pruteanu, author of The Good Sentinel
“My aim is to always offend. Not offend the readers, although plenty have felt violated by my work, but to offend the genre. Or, more accurately, the rules and rule-makers.”


March 30, 2016
Karl Plank, author of After Eden: Hopper’s Pennsylvania Coal Town
“I speak of an arduous path, the movement from one place (lost) to another, to a destination, though, that is not simply defined by its pain, absence, or loss.”


March 25, 2016
Connor O’Neill, author of Plumb from a String: An Essay in Nine Sutures
“My mentor talks about writing projects as tunnels, that when we’re writing, all we have are a flashlight and our legs, exploring.”


March 23, 2016
David Nelson, author of Tusk
“For Tusk, I really wanted a sense of intimacy. I wanted it to feel like you were reading the lyrics to a Fleetwood Mac song. I also felt that not giving the characters names gave them a certain universality.”


March 18, 2016
Michael Levan, author of HG Pieces
“Writers aren’t always the best rockstars (and vice versa; I’m thinking of you, Billy Corgan and many others), but hopefully at a reading, we can transport our audiences someplace new just as much as they can be at a great concert. Still, it all starts with the words on the page.”


March 17, 2016
Jaap Kemp, author of Built to Sink Biannually
“To historicize anything is to first turn it into a narrative, a narrative implies a narrator, a narrator implies a point of view (or at best a few points of view). How do any of us today know anything about the Titanic?”


March 11, 2016
Barbara Harroun, author of A Cold, Lonely Place
“Running used to also be part of my thinking process, and running with my friend and colleague, Rebekah, often helped me work out or rethink and re-envision a story. Both running and writing require such endurance, such struggle, and such pleasure too.”


March 9, 2016
Tasha Cotter, author of Girl in the Cave and Life in Outer Space
“As a poet, I’m interested in amplifying the narratives I come across and finding ways to build the oral history, the passed down narratives into present day stories and experiences.”


February 26, 2016
Justin Carmickle, author of Saint Agnes House
“I think many writers are insecure creatures, often tossing aside our confidence the second we sit at the computer. I’m no different. Often I think perhaps I should just become a dog walker or open a daycare for exotic pets.”


February 24, 2016
Kayla Rae Candrilli, author of Tucson in the Future
“I find most of my work exists in a purely physical, visceral state. That is perhaps why when the language of Siri came careening into this desert landscape I was shocked but also riveted by how sonically pleasing it was inside the space.”


February 19, 2016
Judy Bolton-Fasman, author of The Ninety Day Wonder
“I suspected that my Dad was in the CIA since I was in my early 20s, He and I would actually joke about it, but he was silent whenever I asked him a direct question about his trips to Latin America in the 1950s.”


February 17, 2016
Roy Bentley, author of How Not to Spell Gymnasium
“What may be surprising is that rock ‘n roll taught me the musicality of words: groups like Yes and The Who, the Beatles and the Stones, individuals like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell—folks whose work is behind every word I write.”


November 19, 2015
Gina Williams, author of Sim Sala Bim
“For me, the images appear as the story unfolds in my mind. And when the resulting words paint a strong visual picture, the symbolism seems to naturally reveal itself.”


November 17, 2015
Jared Yates Sexton, author of Where We Are
“There’s absolutely no reason to be afraid to write in colloquial or an honest voice.”


November 12, 2015
Mg Roberts, author of All Fatfalls for You
“My whole life I desperately wanted to be a part of something, to belong. Is this experimental? I don’t know. All writing is a form of experiment, no?”


November 10, 2015
Joe Oestreich, author of Misfire
“If by “youthful spirit” you mean optimism and enthusiasm and a willingness to engage in big ideas and experiments, then I say it’s a necessary requirement for living, right behind oxygen and water. Slightly ahead of food.”


November 5, 2015
Randon Billings Noble, author of What of the Raven, What of the Dove
“There were parts of my story that I did indeed want to erase but as an essayist I feel compelled to explore experiences we usually resist. So I tried to do the impossible – erase and explore at the same time.”


November 3, 2015
Kelly Nelson, author of Finding a Way Out and Seeing for the First Time His Face
“He is my family secret, the disowned, black sheep outlaw. I am his biographer.”


October 29, 2015
Charlotte Mandel, author of Letter to Be Opened Over the Atlantic and Japanese Studio
“I have sought to give voice to biblical women sealed into attitudes projected upon them by society.”


October 27, 2015
Rebecca Macijeski, author of Quantum Silence
“Silence is something I often seek, because it has no agenda. Unlike the melodies and conversations that often fill our minds, silence never tries to argue or convince us of anything.”


October 22, 2015
Sheila Lamb, author of Hunger, Not Tame
“When I started playing around with the story idea, there was a lot of research involved. I did a lot of reading and answering basic questions – are they horses or ponies? Are they wild or feral?”


October 20, 2015
Patrick Kindig, author of The Bees, Introduction, and Portrait of Enya as Homeless Man Singing
“The easiest way to kill a poem is to wax pretentious or overly intellectual in it, so I try to keep my creative and critical work as separate as possible.”


October 15, 2015
Benjamin Gucciardi, author of Futile – the winds –
“I love the idea that as poets, we are in conversation with other poems and other poets. When I write, I get to enter this parlor full of strange, beautiful voices.”


October 13, 2015
Jessica Greenbaum, author of Bubble and Moth in the House
“For the sake of those living with those hardships, we cannot luxuriously wave them off as concepts.”


October 8, 2015
Gabrielle Freeman, author of Back Seat Event
“I seek out new ways of having fun with writing, of letting myself go, of getting out of my own head.”


October 6, 2015
Michael Colonnese, author of Those Birds
“I sat on a park bench and watched a rather pathetic row of birds lined up on a phone wire, and I envied both the communal simplicity of their sorry existence and their ability to fly away.”


October 1, 2015
Amy Collini, author of The Line
“Even though I was extremely proud of my father and loved his entertaining daily stories from work, those words of warning left an impression on me. I’ve always felt I made the right decision.”


September 29, 2015
Michael Chin, author of Waiting for Flight
“The seeds for this story came to me when I was flying for business and thought I saw my ex-girlfriend’s father in the terminal–a totally reasonable notion because he traveled a lot for his job and we were in the airport he typically used.”


September 24, 2015
Liz Ahl, author of Everything She Can’t See
“I got caught up in the girl’s sense of wonder, which came across as a kind of hunger for the world and everything in it, all the names of everything, and so on. It’s hard to witness that kind of bubbly, innocent enthusiasm for the world without feeling a little bittersweet, without wondering: what happened to my sense of amazement?”


September 22, 2015
Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Waterfront Metro Station
“And so vulnerability comes from those two nuances at play with one another—the reliance on something other than performance in order to achieve the best performance is extremely vulnerable and allows me to pull from those feelings and forces me to be fully present”


July 26, 2015
Sarah Hulyk Maxwell, author of $25 Statutory Witness Fee, A lady never wears pantyhose with runners, and Driving at Night in the Rain
“It seems suddenly as if all I write about is power and lack thereof. People in control becoming victims, and vice versa. (Does anyone really write about anything else?!)”


July 25, 2015
Daniel Romo, author of Good Vibrations
“When I notice something I encounter that I feel the need to write about, I do. When I notice something I encounter that I feel the need to photograph, I sometimes do. Writing is a need. Photography is a desire.”


July 24, 2015
Jesse Waters, author of What Gets Worn
“My memories, and stories ­­ just like yours ­­all have something in common…the ‘I’. In that vein, all of our inner vibrations can find a harmony ­­ or a dissonance ­­ with anything else in our fields of living. It’s our mission as writers to find those sounds, and make a music.”


July 23, 2015
David Salner, author of Billy Sunday’s Revival Tent
“My concern in writing is with the setting that ordinary people face and the way history places a great panorama before us.”


July 22, 2015
Christopher Lowe, author of Sport
“A modular piece should build meaning as it goes, allowing for a sense of movement that comes from the plugging in of new ideas/images/memories/information.”


July 21, 2015
Jessica Goodfellow, author of Meanwhile
“I wanted to write about how secrets and taboos in families, anything consciously unspoken of, are as palpable as or perhaps more palpable that what is spoken of.”


July 20, 2015
Zeke Jarvis, author of The Kid Next Door
“I think gaps are interesting because they let all of the characters be a little bit right and a little bit wrong, and that lets you develop a rhythm of the characters sometimes being right and sometimes being wrong.”


July 19, 2015
Christopher Dollard, author of Ill-Suited
“The narrative thread is versatile—it can be stitched and looped and braided throughout a poem for variety and to offer a richer experience to the reader.”


July 18, 2015
Karen Craigo, author of Yo Mama So Fat
“Embracing the hyperbole is something I try to do—to speak boldly, to inhabit my space, and to honor the self. Hell, yes, I’ll make earthquakes. Listen to me rumble.”


July 17, 2015
Devon Miller-Duggan, author of Proper Abecedarian 1: Turns and Proper Abecedarian 6: January
“Something about making my own rules on top of the straightforward rules of the abecedarian created a great deal of energy.”


July 17, 2015
Lou Gaglia, author of The Over-Thirty League
“The Lower East Side and that section of Brooklyn will always be a part of who I am, especially the Lower East Side. There are so many people, and there is so much movement, and one’s senses are bombarded. I love the sounds, all those voices, and I love the many different languages, the store fronts, and the hand trucks, and the many faces, and the old buildings. It is very hard to brood there.”


July 16, 2015
Sasha West, author of Museum of Natural History #37, Helen {Keller} and Siberia
“Sometimes a form seems to arrive via intuition and sometimes it comes through trial and error.”


July 15, 2015
Kelsey Liebenson-Morse, author of What You Feed Me
“I often find the process of writing and preparing food compliment and reflect one another. When I’m having trouble writing I bake because the results of my labors are tangible. Line editing on the other hand doesn’t give you instant gratification. ”


July 14, 2015
Gregory Crosby, author of She Went Into the Lobby For a Box of Junior Mints
“It’s interesting and gratifying to hear which lines in a poem get a laugh. They too are ‘grabbers,’ in addition to being (one hopes) actual examples of wit. Humor also helps punctuate the self-serious, grasping-for-gravitas tendency in poetry.”


July 13, 2015
Tasha Coryell, author of Eventually They All Get Sick
“Writing isn’t hard. It’s all the things that come with writing that are hard, submitting, editing, rejection, talking to other writers. But writing itself is a very pleasurable thing for me, especially writing fiction.”