What drives you to write? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that workshop deadlines often provide a magical and much-needed kick in the pants. In the absence of deadlines, I write to explore, to play with language, and to figure out what I know. Writing is sometimes exciting and sometimes awful and soul-crushing, but it’s something I’ve always done and found worth doing.
Who is your favorite author? Sappho for the win! More recent obsessions include Carolyn Forché and Terry Tempest Williams.
What does “place” mean to you? Aldo Leopold’s “The Land Ethic” has really shaped my understanding of place—not a static backdrop, but a dynamic community. I find place in connection and relationship, all the complex ties that bind me to land, air, water, plants, animals, and other humans.
What is your favorite place or environment? Oh man, I miss Burlington, VT, so much. Church Street, Lake Champlain, slouching porches, weird talkative strangers, community gardens, art and music everywhere, quick summers and endless snow, Nader Guy, and visible mountains—little ones, but still, topography. What more could a person want?
What do you look for in a piece of writing? What most readers look for: a piece that sparks my interest early, keeps me reading, and stays with me after I’ve reached the end. I’m a sucker for beauty, authority, honesty, and fresh, compelling language. Humor, when it works, is also a plus.
What’s something surprising you learned last week? This story about a mysterious artist leaving gorgeous, intricate sculptures in Scottish libraries and museums made me ridiculously happy.