Tag: interviews

Women Writers We Love: Jessie Lynn McMains

This week Luisa got to chat with Jessie Lynn McMains, author of The Loneliest Show On Earth. (You can read an excerpt from her book The Loneliest Show On Earth here and then go buy your self a copy here.). Some of her most recent poetry has appeared on Memoir Mixtapes, FIVE:2:ONE, and Neon Mariposa Magazine

Luisa: Where does your love of the occult come from? There are so many tarot cards and soothsayers, and I was just wondering what drew you to that in the first place.

Jessie: I mean, I don’t really know, because I was kind of into it since I was really little. I mean, I was one of those little kids who was like, “I want to be a witch”.

L: Oh, I totally get that! I dressed up as a witch for Halloween for about ten years in a row. Because it was like, what else would I be? I also lived for Charmed.

image1J: Yeah, I think Charmed is after my time, so I can’t remember, pop culture-wise, anything specific until I was a teenager. More of that stuff was coming out when I was a teenager. But I’m sure that fed into it, because I know I got my first tarot deck at fifteen. So I can’t really point to anything that might’ve gotten me into it specifically, but my mom, I wouldn’t say that she was into the occult, but you know, she was kind of a hippie before I was born, and was around people who were into New Age and occult stuff. And she had runes and things, so it was just kind of always around me, even though it wasn’t a direct influence.

L: So my family is Brazilian. We’re very superstitious, culturally. There are things like Candomble, which is kind of like santeria, and while I’ve never done it, a lot of people do find it empowering. Do you get that same sense of agency and control with tarot cards or other occult things that you were drawn to?

J: Yeah, I think definitely when I started officially casting spells, there was definitely a sense of you being a preteen or teenage girl or a young person, there’s a certain sense of powerlessness in general, obviously to varying degrees based on your race, class or culture. I think that anyone who is disenfranchised, especially when you’re young and even less in control in some ways–it can be powerful to reclaim part of yourself through occult things, even if it isn’t visible to most. Like, if I’m casting this spell, I’m making something happen or preventing something from happening. Or in the case of tarot cards or any other sort of fortune-telling, I might see what might happen and maybe change the course of it. I think a lot of marginalized people are drawn to occult things for that reason.

L: It does go against the status quo. One thing I sort of got the same vibe from is the new Sabrina the Witch. It’s very different from the 90s one, where it’s about a lady who lives in the suburbs with her two aunts. The new version is a very intersectional feminist show and is more with the times. And on top of that, it talks about darkness, not as necessarily a good thing, but as something that coexists with good. And how everybody has a little bit of darkness, and how darkness isn’t always bad. I got that same honest and sincere vibe from a lot of the parts that I was reading. 

Which brings me to my next point. I love the interplay of gender and this attitude of not boxing people in. On page 13, in the passage that says:

Some days I’m the half-man, half-woman, all my gender confusion solved by drawing a line down the center of my body.

I really loved that passage, because the way that it talks about gender is just so freeing. Not really caring what meshes with what, and again, breaking these traditional boxes of what people think is a given.

How do you feel about gender in terms of it being liberating to you?

J: Part of the reason that I use the figure of the half-man, half-woman, and some other characters in the book is because I use she/they pronouns. That said, personally, I don’t actually care about pronouns for myself. I obviously respect other people’s pronouns, but for myself, there have even been times when people have referred to me as he/him depending upon the context of how they knew me. I feel like any pronoun only sometimes fits me. 

L: That leads me to my next tangent, which is about all of the identities that the speaker gives themselves, like the Wolf Girl, the half-man, half-woman, the Bird Girl. All of these different identities. Regardless of gender, how do you see identity formation or self-evolution? As a separate stage of different selves or as a linked, chronological process? Because there are so many different selves, and I know that sometimes, different selves arise because we need them for survival, versus different selves arising because we’re finally free to be who we are. And I was just wondering what your thoughts on that were.

J: Oh, that’s a good question. Actually, interestingly, I’m reading an anthology now called After Confession, and it’s all different essays on confessional or autobiographical poetry. And a lot of the essays have to do with the question of, does anyone really have a singular self? Don’t we all have these fractured identities within us depending on who we’re with or at what time in our life we’re at? So it’s funny that you mention that. I don’t think identity is “we were this and now we’re this”. I think all the selves are in there, and they’ll come out depending on the context of where you are.

L: So many of these passages are addressed to lovers or children. When writing this, did you intend for it to be a guide of some sort? 

J: No, not really. I think you can look at it as either there’s one speaker who has all these different identities or it can be different speakers who are kind of connected. But yeah, I never thought of it that way. That’s something that I’d have to think about more before answering that question.

L: When I was reading, I did see that some poems were addressed to babies, and one was addressed to a true love. So I was wondering if they were a compendium of experiences.

J: Yes! And then some of the poems are simply addressed to the reader. The easiest way to put it is that all the speakers are me and not me. And therefore all the people I’m addressing are real people, but also not. 

image0L: That was another question I had, because the line “all of this is true, all of this is fiction”, often appears throughout the book. I feel that’s an interesting quality of the book because you invite the reader to see things through your perspective.

I did notice that you use a lot of blue and black throughout the book. For example, in the lines “my pickled punks asleep, embalmed, floating forever in subaqueous twilight, in their jars of ultramarine, of Spanish blue”.  Is there any specific reason for that?

J: Not really, when color enters the picture I just let the mood of what I’m writing choose the color. Also, blue and black are my two favorite colors, so that’s probably why you see a good bit of it in there.

L: I did see a link between miscarriage and magic, with the lady who has the fetuses in the jars. Was that link intentional?

J: So there’s definitely a link because she’s found a way to celebrate these miracles even though they were also losses, which is a kind of magic. Not only that, they were all products of who their parents were, which I mean, everyone is, but not usually quite so overtly.

There’s a lot of that in old fairy tales. About a child being born a certain way because the mother saw something that scared her while she was pregnant with the child, so then they’re born with a deformity as punishment for the mother’s actions. 

Actually, in the original version of Rapunzel, the mother was craving this lettuce that grew in the witch’s garden and that’s why Rapunzel was cursed because her mother couldn’t resist her pregnancy cravings, basically. That’s where I got some of it from, where, in the logic of old stories, something could be imprinted that easily upon a child.

L: So in that context, what are your thoughts in regards to these carnival children? They’re gone, of course, but would you say they’re products of vicarious trauma, damaged beyond repair?

J: Definitely. And there’s the vicarious trauma of what the speaker, mother, has experienced that would even rob these children of the chance at life. But then also, as much as she’s cherishing the memories of these children, that is also a reliving of the trauma. She’s not letting go.

For more on Jessie, check out her website at www.recklesschants.net and follow her on Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie.  

Women Writers We Love – Cathy Mellett

Our very own Luisa recently got to a chance to talk to the very talented Cathy Mellett.  Some of Cathy’s most recent fiction we know you’ll love includes “The Green Bridge” (Atlas and Alice) and “A Road Disappearing” (BULL: Men’s Fiction).   

B944E36B-A821-4DCF-8F8C-263CF66884FCLuisa: So, do you write full-time now?

Cathy: Well I retired. I took an early retirement. And I do write full-time now. It’s been wonderful.

L: That’s such a dream. I wish!

C: Yeah, it was worth it to do that. First of all, for my own sanity. And then, for my own writing. I’ve just been getting so much more done. And it took me a long time to realize too, that you know, even though I have more time, sometimes when you have more time you just worry about how you’re using it in terms of your writing.

L: Yeah, and if there’s money involved it slows you down even more. And it puts you in a rut.

C: Yeah and it took me a long time to realize that I just had to make the best use of the time I had. You know, even if it’s fifteen or twenty minutes. Sometimes you can really write something in that time period.

L: You know, that’s true. And you know what? I’m actually very slow to publish. And I write a lot, collectively. Well, I don’t actually write as much as I should. I’m not an organized writer, which is something that I’ve been working on. Which is probably why I’m slow to publish. But what I tend to do is binge write, which I have to change. So, I’ll take like a whole day where I’ll only write, and then not write for maybe two weeks. And that’s really not good.

C: You know what? I don’t think that’s bad, at all. I mean I think those times when you’re not writing are really rejuvenating. And I think sometimes as writers we beat ourselves up too much.

L: That’s true.

C: That whole thing about, “you should write every day.” You know, I think, every time we hear the word “should” in regard to writing, maybe we need to balk at that a little bit.

L: Yeah that’s true, that’s true. And I do struggle with that also, but for me it’s more of… I know that I can push myself a little bit further than I have been pushing myself. And so, while I definitely don’t think I would write every day, because I tried that for about two months and it while I liked the results I was seeing, I wasn’t really getting out of the house much. And I was like, this is not, like you should really, you need to go grab a beer with somebody. You can’t just live off your imagination.

C: No. It can be really isolating. 

L: It can.

C: Yeah, if you don’t watch.

L: And I’m already a homebody, you know what I mean? I’m already armed with the fluffiest of sweatpants and sweaters.

C: Oh yeah, me too. I definitely think it goes with the writing territory.

L: It does, it does.

C: So, I was curious as to which story you folks saw which prompted you to write to me.

L: Exactly, so I’m in my car, and so I’m using my phone’s internet, so it took a while to load the Atlas and Alice page, but I finally got here to author archives, and I’m going to Google your name. So, it was the story of, I forget the title, the story of a little girl with her mom.

C: That was The Green Bridge.

L: Yeah, so that was the one that I really liked because it was such an introspective piece from the point of view of a child. And I love reading things like that. And I think it’s just very cool to be able to channel that perspective. I think it can be very difficult past a certain point when you’re not a little kid anymore, and you’re like no if I write fiction, I have to write from the point of view of an adult. I don’t know, some people are kind of crazy and they try to do something like a film noir, or something like that. Which is like an odd cliché that a lot of people fall back on. But I really enjoyed that perspective of the child who just wants to be sort of loved. Which at the end of the day, is something we all want. And I just thought it was very cool because she’s such a strong little girl.

C: Oh, that’s good.

L: Yeah! And she bites back, you know what I mean? Me as a kid, I was a very easygoing little girl. And I was taught to say: yes, ok. So, I always love when I find characters, especially little girls who, think, well, you’re an adult but I don’t really care, because I don’t think what you’re doing is right.

C: Oh, that’s neat. Well, thanks!

L: Yeah! So, I have a couple of questions here. And I’ll just start off with the regular first question. What got you started as a writer?

C: Well, I think as with a lot of writers, I think it was reading. You know, I read so much as a child. I was an only child until I was eighteen, really. And it just gave me a lot of solaces, and it was just so interesting, and I think it grew out of that. Not that I thought I could do what these amazing writers were doing, but it certainly prompted me to try. And I started writing poetry, as a lot of people do. 

Well in high school, the last two years of school I went to a really good high school, it was the city high school, and they had a lot of writing contests that they were involved in, and I started winning those and it just showed me that there was something I was good at, maybe. That there was something I could do.

L: I know the feeling. In my family, languages have always been really, important. Especially because, even though we’re Latino we’re very, very white, so no one believes that you speak Spanish or Portuguese or anything like that. And so your only claim to that sort of thing is language, and also, creatively that was the one thing where I’m like, you know, maybe I’m scatterbrained, but at the very least I’ve got my foot in the door with this and I can keep working on this.

C: Yeah, yeah. Well, I was very scatterbrained as a child too. It used to be pretty annoying to the adults. I don’t know, maybe we were just both dreamers—it’s how we ended up as writers.

L: Exactly! You create your other space where all of that can just fall away.

C: Yeah! So, a big day in my life as a little kid was the day that I was able to go with my grandmother to go get a library card. This was like the biggest thing. And you know, it was like a big event in the family too, you get your own library card. And I think I was about seven, and in the summer, every Monday, I would go and get the limit of library books I could get. And I would beg the librarian for more and she would always say: “No, this is all you can take out for a week. Bring them back next Monday and you can have seven more”.

L: So, she was negotiating, that’s funny.

C: And I really think that’s what did it, you know? Starting with poetry, and then doing essays and just you know, it ended almost, like I felt that was, in some ways the only thing I was good at. But it just sort of grew from there.

L: Oh, but it’s a beautiful skill. It’s one of those things where honestly, I used to think that as a writer, or as someone who just loves the humanities, just because you know, people are always pushing you—oh STEM is better—oh this is better—or you know, what are you going to do, write a letter for the rest of your life? And it’s like oh my God, wow, you’re so callous, and on top of that don’t realize that somebody has to keep the language going and somebody has to give it a heart. And people don’t really realize how important that is—besides all the other applications that writing can have in any aspect of any professional discipline. It’s very necessary to be able to properly communicate and tell a story.

C: It really is. I remember one time when I was working in a corporate environment, I had to interview one of the higher-ups, and he was lamenting, isn’t this terrible—his son wanted to be an English major. And I was sitting there just thinking, well what do you think I was?

L: And were you a copywriter?

C: Um, no, I did corporate communications for years. So, I did everything from writing brochures and newsletters and magazines to writing speeches for executives.

L: Yeah, I’ve met a lot of writers who have turned to that. It honestly tends to be a very good foothold if you can find it. And it doesn’t take up as much time—maybe if you work freelance it doesn’t take as much time, because if you work for an agency you can even end up working weekends.

C: Yeah, very much that way. Then I moved and ended up working for a university, and that was still really time-consuming. And eventually, I went out on my own as a freelancer, and then I was able to write more because then I could make my own schedule, and that was hugely helpful.

L: That’s excellent. And so, two things that I’m curious about—you said that you were an only child until you were eighteen?

C: Mhmm.

L: And was that a stepsibling?

C: It was.

L: And originally where are you from?

C: Pittsburgh, PA.

L: So then, you said you moved to a different high school. But in the same city?

C: Yeah, it was in the same city.

L: And why did you move, if you don’t mind my asking?

C: Oh no, I was going to an all-girl Catholic high school. It was supposed to be very academic, and it wasn’t. You know, it was a matter of money, they just had very old textbooks, and I just felt like I didn’t fit in, so after two years I finally convinced my family to let me move.

L: Like, it’s time to book it. That’s funny. That sounds tough, a Catholic high school. That sounds very strict.

C: Yeah, and we weren’t even Catholic, so it was even more of a mess.

L: Oh no! So why did they put you in there in the first place? Like it’s ok, you’re Protestant, it’ll work itself out somehow.

C: Yeah, I went there because it was supposed to be such a good school, but public school ended up being so much better for me.

L: That’s good, I’m glad those last two years were good for you. And so then, my next question is: Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? And how does this inform the way you see or experience the world around you?

C: I’ve never been a big genre writer, like science fiction, or anything like that, or mystery. But what I really like is literary fiction. And I don’t know, the people who are in that camp, like Elizabeth Strout, people like Donna Tart, they’re all writing about things that are really important in the world. And I think, you read them, and people like them, and you just are exposed so closely to another person’s point of view, and the life of these characters that you would never see otherwise. It’s definitely not formulaic writing. It’s just really in touch, I think, with humanity.

L: I agree, I agree. And I think that’s also the power of storytelling, which is to sort of connect stories to one another, and connect people in general.

C: It does. And language is so important and that’s such an important connection for people. 

L: Language, yes! I’m still very much wanting to take a linguistics course. I feel like that would be very beneficial for writing.

C: Mhmm, and I took a lot of sociology and anthropology in college and I also felt that that really informed my writing.

L: Oh, that’s very interesting. And why do you feel that? Because I mean, I feel the same way, I’m just curious.

C: I think it just taught me a lot about people and different cultures. Trends that were going on in different countries and different groups of people. And the writer Zora Neale Hurston for example, she wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God. She was actually an anthropology major at Columbia. And I think you can see her interest in anthropology.

L: Yeah, what I think is interesting about sociology and anthropology; it wasn’t that I had, let’s say, any predisposed notions of “this is how the world is” sort of thing. I didn’t really think that there was a structure to it, or I didn’t think that that was how things were any longer, which is naïve. And it just sort of opened a door when I started taking sociology courses, and I thought this is very interesting, because this is sort of the dynamics of my society or my city or my country, and look how different it is in other countries. Which is why I also think comparative literature is very, very interesting.

C: It really is. I got my bachelor’s and my MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. And they started offering comparative literature classes around that time, and that was really eye-opening to me. There were things from different cultures, like China and India that I’d never been exposed to before, and that was really eye-opening. In terms of not only what the world’s like, but what you can do with language and what you can do with story.


Cathy Mellett’s fiction has appeared in Atlas and Alice, BULL: Men’s Fiction, Confrontation, The Literary Review, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She was just named a Saturday Evening Post 2020 Great American Short Story recipient. Her short story collection, “All I’ve Ever Done is Love You,” is shortlisted for both the CR 2020 Fiction Awards and the Santa Fe Writers Project 2020 Fiction Awards.

Check out Cathy’s website www.cathymellett.com.  You can find her on Twitter @CathyMellett.

Women Writers We Love: Andrea Rinard

In this month’s interview, our senior copywriter Luisa got to have a wonderful chat with the talented Andrea Rinard.  Her story “Burning” was featured on DDR in September.  Find out what she’s working on, what got her into writing, and much more.


Rinard headshot

What got you started as a writer?

I’m sure like a lot of English teachers, I don’t only love to write, I love to read. And I had stories rattling around in my head.

I’m almost 50 now, so it’s only been the last couple of years that I’ve had this urgency of if I don’t do it now, what’s gonna happen?

In the past three years, I’ve given myself a mid-life luxury. My kids are older. I’ve got a wonderful husband. He doesn’t mind when I run off to a writing workshop.

It’s only been the past three years that I’ve been thinking of myself as a writer.

I’ve journaled my whole life. I’ve always kept journals. Tragically bad poetry. Angsty, gotta pour out my soul stuff.

I have what I call my graveyard of first chapters, where I would sit down to write a novel, and I would tinker and mess with it, mess with it, so much that I would never get past the first or second chapter.

The luxury of being a teacher is that I have summers. And so this summer I actually finished a novel. Having all of June and July was really a luxury to be able to spend as many hours a day as I needed to to get it done.

What’s the name of your novel?

The novel’s called Afterworld. I actually just found out it won the Marianne Russo Award at the Key West Literary Seminar.

Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? How does this inform the way you see or experience the world around you?

I guess I’ve always wanted to write literary fiction. I always thought I would write the great American novel, but I find myself writing young adult fiction. Even in a piece like Burning, which is flash fiction, it’s very much a young adult piece about this teenage girl. And I think that’s kind of a function of my job as a high school teacher, where I’m surrounded by teenagers all the time, but also because I’ve got three kids.

My boys are very uncomplicated. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a female and they’re male and I don’t understand very much, but my relationship with my daughter is this wonderful, complex, delicious thing that I don’t know how I would live without. She’s seventeen now and in high school. So I find myself, you know, in Burning, there’s a little bit of her in that, of her responses to things. And my novel that I just finished, the protagonist is very much inspired by her.

Yeah, so young adult fiction, and just exploring, more than anything, human relationships, and how they can get disconnected. And how they play such a big impact, and how I think people are very careless with girl’s hearts. And that’s something that troubles me but also interests me as a writer.

I see the damage that’s done to girls. I don’t know if it’s just the society we live in, or if boys have more scope for resiliency. I just see girls and teens being damaged so easily and carelessly with things that, I know for me (and I’m almost 50), I still sting from things that were said to me or done to me when I was 15 or 16 years old. It just stayed with me.

And I don’t know if that same thing is true for men. I don’t know, and I can’t speak to that as I’m not one, I didn’t have that experience, but the lasting effects of things that happen to teenage girls is something that I see played out on a daily basis, you know, with the girls that I have in my classroom, the girl that I’m trying to raise. And I just find it fascinating, and it’s not something intentional, it’s just something that I keep coming back to in my writing.

Would you say that there are times in your life that you’re drawn to other styles? What draws you to them? Life events? Moods?

I mean, a lot of times I have to be forced, I’ll be honest. I’ve gone to the Yale writer’s workshop for two summers and have been asked to write in a different style or genre.

Also when I read something. I just finished Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, and kinda just want to write like her now.

Yeah, anytime I read something, that really moves me or makes an impression on me, I think that kind of seeps in a little bit, but I’m still trying to find my own style. So it’s kind of hard to differentiate what’s mine and what’s something that I’m emulating or being influenced by.

Who are you reading right now?

Kristen Arnett. Yeah, she’s just published Mostly Dead Things for her debut novel, and she’s coming to USF next week. So I wanted to make sure that I read her book before she came.

I’m trying to read everything by Lauren Groff since I’m signed up for her workshop at the Keywest Literary Seminar. So that’s what’s on my book stand now. And of course, my students are always handing me stuff.

Can you tell us one quirky fun fact about yourself?

Oh, gosh. *laughs* I’m trying to figure out which one, so I don’t sound like an insane person.

Um, I wear shoes against my will. I’ve got the Fred Flintstone feet.

I get what’s called 7/11 feet, where you just don’t wear shoes and you run into 7/11 to get your Slurpee across the parking lot, and then your feet are black at the end of the day. It’s pretty gross.


For more on Andrea, visit her site www.writerinard.com.  You can also follow her on Twitter @aprinard or on Instagram @andrearinard.

Women Writers We Love: Mary Sims

This week we have an interview with the lovely Mary Sims. We featured her poem “Lavender Lazarus” back in September of this year.  You can also find her latest poetry on Peach Mag and The Rising Phoenix Review. 


_DSC5729 (1)

What got you started as a writer?

I came across some horror books at a book-fair as a kid, and soon after I tried to write little horror stories of my own with friends. Eventually, I started moving away from plot-centered stories and became more interested in individual lines. 

Poetry turned out to be exactly what I was searching for. When I stumbled across Literary Twitter, I found poetry magazines and became immersed in the genre.  

Do you feel closer to a certain genre or style? Why? How does this inform the way you see/experience the world around you?

Poetry. It has the power to give things a second meaning and shows you countless perspectives. I believe it’s made me more empathetic and opened my eyes to ideas, forms, and styles I never thought possible.

Are there times in your life where you feel drawn to other styles? What draws you to them? Life events, moods?

Sometimes I do feel drawn to prose poetry or flash fiction. Poetry is beautiful in all its indirect complexities, but sometimes I want to read the direct nature that flash fiction or prose poetry deliver. Normally, I’m more drawn to these styles during hard times, when I know a certain piece will give me a specific feeling I am craving. It can be nice to address things directly at times rather than trying to piece together meaning indirectly.

Who are you reading right now?

Kristin Chang’s Past Lives, Future Bodies, and Louise Glück’s Vita Nova. I love how Kristin Chang plays with form and language. She intertwines them in a way I hadn’t previously thought possible. She also plays with spacing in a way that gives each poem another level: an element I’ve tried to incorporate into my own writing.

Louise Glück’s ability to manipulate simple objects, such as plants, into large emotions is a skill I cannot read enough of. I spent the summer reading a collection of her first four books. I feel there is still so much I can learn from her about poetry and language. 

Can you tell us a quirky fun fact about yourself?

My friends say that in everything I do, I have a grandma style. For example, when when we go shopping, a lot of times I’ll choose the skirt with the couch print you’d find in your grandmother’s house. There’s just something hypnotic and comforting about the oddness of the patterns. This goes double for any floral sweater I’ve come across. 

You can follow Mary on Twitter @rhymeofblue.

Women Writers We Love – Allison Thorpe

We got a chance to catch up with past contributor Allison Thorpe! (You can read her poems “The Last Time My Mother Baked Bread” and “Resolution” in our Winter 2017 collection ebook, available for purchase here.)  Her latest book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue is available for preorder through Finishing Line Press.  Find out what inspires Allison, her advice for women writers, and more!

What inspires you the most? 

I lived in rural Kentucky for many years, and nature was my constant inspiration.  When I moved to Lexington, I found motivation in the tremendous creative energy all around me:  the artists at the museum across the street, two bookstores (Brier Books and The Wild Fig) who continually hold readings and workshops, the woman who draws mandalas on the sidewalk, the colorful book benches from the Carnegie Center, the Buddha Babes, and all my writing groups. Lexington is a dynamic center of literary pursuits and encouragement.

PICWho are your favorite women writers?

I’m all over the board, and my catalog of women writers grows every day.  I do tend to gravitate toward Kentucky/Appalachian writers like Crystal Wilkerson, Ada Limon, Rebecca Gayle Howell, Jan Sparkman, and so many others.  I’m involved with the Kentucky Women Writers Conference (the longest running literary festival of women in the nation and held in Lexington each September) which offers amazing women authors in a variety of genres.  I come away with armloads of books and more new favorites.  Currently, I am reading My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh which is beautifully disturbing.  I support women writers and am heartened by the variety of voices and stories.

What does your writing process look like? 

Being retired, I have the joy of writing every day.  I often have several projects going and see where my keyboard takes me when I sit down.  I’m someone who gets ideas when I should be sleeping, so I always have pen and paper close at hand.  That drowsy state just before or upon waking is a gold mine for me.  I can’t tell you how many poems have been born in those moments.  June is Lexington Poetry Month, and Accents Publishing challenges writers to post a poem a day.  It’s fun and exciting to read and respond to the work of others.  I love the chain reactions that arise. 

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

Support each other!  Go to readings. Buy books.  Open those doors that allow women a voice.  I am a great believer in finding a writing partner or a writing group that will support and critique work.  Even joining a book club can be insightful to one’s own poetry. Feedback is vital and necessary.  I am also a great believer in revision, something I preached to my students over the decades. Revision is a good place to experiment with voice, with point of view, with language.

What are you currently working on?
At present, I am developing poems about Rosalind Franklin, a chemist who played a major role in the discovery of DNA.  I received a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women to research and write about her.  She is a fascinating woman who did not receive the recognition she deserved.  But who knows what other inspiration may come along?

book cover

You can preorder Allison Thorpe’s book The Shepherds of Tenth Avenue here!