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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Judy Halebsky, poet and sometime-dweller-in-Japan, invited me to join her in this Writing Process Blog Tour. You can (and should!) read all about Judy's writing process here, where she answers the same four process-related questions that I will answer below.

And here's some information about Judy: Judy Halebsky’s book of poems, Sky=Empty (New Issues, 2010) was chosen by Marvin Bell as the winner of the New Issues Prize, a first book award, and was also a finalist for the California Book Award. Her chapbook, Space/Gap/Interval/Distance (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2012) won the Poets-Under-Forty Chapbook Contest from Sixteen Rivers Press. She teaches at Dominican University of California.

Now, I'll answer the same four questions that Judy did.

1) What are you working on?

My book, The Insomniac's Weather Report, which had gone out of print, recently found a new publisher Isobar Press, so I'm busy preparing for a June launch. I'm working with a different publisher on another manuscript as well (and will make an announcement about it soon).

What I'm writing these days are poems based on my mother's only brother, who at age 22 was lost on Denali (Mt. McKinley) in a mountain-climbing accident. For a number of reasons, speaking of the accident in my family was taboo for many years , and I am writing about growing up with that unarticulated loss.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My education has been solely in analytical (not literary) fields, and I can't help but use my "quant" schooling to inform my work -- I hope in ways that are deeper than merely the choice of technical wording, playfulness with logic, etc.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I always want to do something I haven't done before to reach the truths I am afraid of. I'm also a big believer that form and voice should serve the poem. I'm less interested in consistent voice and style than effective use of voice and style.

4) How does your writing process work?

I am a compulsive list-maker, in my writing life and in every other aspect of my life. I tend to think about a topic or theme, and make a list of all the images, ideas, and phrases that come to mind. Then I start working on one or several that seem related, or that seem to resonate, or are interestingly disparate. Always, writing the poems generates more items that should be on the list, which gives me more fodder for new poems, so it's a self-perpetuating method. (This is when I'm lucky and have a theme in mind. When I don't, it's anybody's guess what the process will be.)

***Next, I'm pleased to present Tara Mae Mulroy to continue the blog tour here.***

Tara Mae Mulroy is a graduate of the MFA program in poetry at the University of Memphis and currently teaches middle school Latin at a private school. Her poems, stories, and essays are published or forthcoming in Third Coast, CutBank, and others. Her chapbook, Philomela, is out from dancing girl press. Her blog can be found at

***Also, Drew Myron accepted my invite to the blog tour here.***

Drew Myron heads a marketing communications company, and as a journalist has covered news, arts, entertainment and travel for numerous publications. She lives in Oregon, where she leads writing workshops for disadvantaged and homeless youth. She is the author of Thin Skin, a collection of photos and poems.

***Finally, in a poetry boon, we also have Shawnte Orion's responses here.****

Shawnte Orion is an Arizona poet frequently invited to read at bookstores, bars, colleges, hair salons, museums, and laundromats and published in Georgetown Review, Juked, DASH Literary Journal, New York Quarterly and many other literary journals. He hosts a monthly reading series at Glendale Community College.


drew said...

This is such a great way to learn about new (to me) writers, and to dig deeper into those I already know. Thanks Jessica!

Jessica Goodfellow said...

And thanks to Judy Halebsky for introducing me to the blog tour first. But glad to have you along, Drew!

Shawnte Orion said...

"I'm less interested in consistent voice and style than effective use of voice and style."

Amen! I'm happy to hear that others feel that way. I like to allow things to go in the directions that they want to follow, even if it gives a schizophrenic vibe to my work as a whole. I felt like that worked against me when it came to showing chapbook and book manuscripts to publishers.

Now that you mention it, your analytic approach to writing makes so much sense when I think of poems like "What You See If You Use Water As A Mirror."

Jessica Goodfellow said...

Shawnte, Someone told me that my work lacked voice because I tried so many different was a poet whose work I admired who said it, but though I really admired her, I immediately thought she was wrong about this particular point. An editor said to me that my sensibility was consistent even if my voice wasn't. And that is good to me. In the short run I think it can work against us, but in the long run, I think our sensibilities will show.

Jessica Goodfellow said...

One more thing, Shawnte; I heard Louise Gluck praised for reinventing herself for every book she writes. So, there are people who understand and praise inventiveness....