Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Amanda McConnon

I met Amanda McConnon in Marie Howe's workshop last fall and I was instantly blown away by one of her very first poems, "Far means a place not here."  I like to think of her as the person I would be if I was insanely talented and way friendlier.  Her work is so incredible that right now, I am trying to get some of it to rub off on me by writing a collaborative poem with her via email.  

Amanda in the sun.

Who are you? I’m Amanda McConnon and I was Kristin’s classmate in the MFA at NYU.

Where can you be found online? Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work? If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation? I have some poems in some online journals, and I’m a contributor at Late Night Library. I don’t have a blog or website. But if I had to describe my writing, I’d say it’s a lot of figuring out of things. I like poems where I can see the strings behind the poet’s thought process, so I try to write poems like that.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging? When did it happen? I always wanted to write but didn’t really know what to do with that urge. In high school, I carried around a reporter’s notebook that I would call my “lifebook,” but I never did much with what was in it beyond read it over and over again myself. In college I studied with the poet Cynthia Arrieu-King, and she showed me how to make a poem. She also introduced me to this whole wide world of contemporary poetry that exists that I was pretty oblivious to before that point.

Why do you write? I think that the way I process what goes on around me makes me need to write. When I write, it’s as if I get to empty something out of me and let it exist on its own. It feels nice to have my thought on a page where I can deal with it in a very concrete way.

Your writing inspires me. (Thanks Kristin!) Who inspires you? One of my all time favorite poets is William Stafford. I admire the way he quietly arrives at whatever it is he’s trying to say. I don’t feel like he has an agenda when I start reading his poems, but rather that I’m making some sort of discovery or realization at the same time as he is. I also love Sharon Olds, with whom I am currently studying, and as both a poet and a teacher, her ebullience and compassion for everything she comes in contact with is completely contagious.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? This is tough! Lately a lot of people I know have been traveling or moving to Ireland, and the landscape there looks unreal. I also love how many old buildings and structures that still exist there. And coming from an Irish family and hearing stories about the attitudes and spirit of the Irish – I think it’s somewhere I want to go eventually. But I also like the idea of traveling around the US, since I’ve lived here my whole life and never been off the east coast.

What is your favorite place on earth? This is really boring of me, but I love the comfortable feeling of being home. My more adventurous answer is that I like hiking and the experience of learning a new landscape, so any place remotely exciting that I’m visiting for the first time is a great place to me.

Anything else you'd like us to know? I love your poems, Kristin, and I’m so glad you asked me to do this interview! Also, that these pretty cool words exist.

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