Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Interviews

"Searching for normal, when what I really needed was kindness": an Interview with Sarah Fawn Montgomery

by Ilana Masad

Starting Quite Mad: An American Pharma Memoir by Sarah Fawn Montgomery—out today with Mad Creek Books, an imprint of Ohio State University Press—was difficult. It’s always somewhat nerve-wracking to approach a book that deals intimately with an identity and subject-matter that is close to your heart, and so as a mentally ill person, reading books about madness tends to have a great effect on me. And boy howdy, did this one have an effect. Weeks after finishing it, I’m still thinking about it often, daily, and that haunting quality is part and parcel of what makes the book so incredible.

“A daily handful of wonder and awe”: A Debut Poet Roundtable, Pt. 2

Last we heard from our debut poets, they were discussing tardigrades! In the second and final part of this roundtable, five former members of Prairie Schooner’s editorial team—Sarah A. Chavez, Crystal S. Gibbins, Marianne Kunkel, Michelle Menting, and Hali Sofala-Jones—discuss the intersection of their first full-length poetry collection and the current American climate, some simple and bold self-marketing strategies, and what they’ll write next. Thanks for tuning in!


MK: How do you see your book fitting into this particular time in history? We’re all self-identifying women poets, but our identities are broader and more multi-faceted than that. Twenty or 50 years from now, what will your poems witness about the world in 2017-18?

“What I long for... never actually existed”: A Debut Poet Roundtable, Pt. 1

Last fall the PS blog ran a Debut Fiction Roundtable, and we think it’s time for poets to have a turn! Following that model, five former members of Prairie Schooner’s editorial team—Sarah A. Chavez, Crystal S. Gibbins, Marianne Kunkel, Michelle Menting, and Hali Sofala-Jones—chatted back and forth through email to discuss their experiences sending their first full-length poetry collection out into the world. This is the first half of their conversation, focusing on the theme of lack versus loss as well as practical research tips. Stay tuned for part two!


Marianne Kunkel: Although our books are all quite different, a common thread I see in them is lack—lacking life experience, professional success, connection to ancestors, home, environment, language, etc. Was it cathartic to write these poems? Do you think the lack you wrote about is something that can ever be resolved?

"Approach everything with humility": an interview with Patricia Engel

by Mac Wall

Patricia Engel is the author of The Veins of the Ocean and her story, "La Ruta," was featured in our Spring 2018 issue.


For our readers who only know you from what’s been published about you in the Prairie Schooner, is there anything from your life that tends to have an outsized influence on your writing? What you read, where you live, how you spend your day? 

First, I want to say that I’m delighted to be published in Prairie Schooner. It’s a magazine I’ve long admired. To your question, everything influences my writing, from conversations I have or overhear, images I take in through landscapes, art, or from my imagination; my heritage, fragments of my identity, my relationships, nature and its exploitation, books I read, music I hear, my hobbies, fantasies, and obsessions. 

"In a way all stories are about mental health": an Interview with Molly Quinn

by Gayle Rocz

Molly Quinn’s writing has either appeared or is forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, and Post Road. She was recently published in our Spring issue with the short fiction story, “Babies in the Water.”


Gayle Rocz: Your short fiction story, "Babies in the Water," is based around the relationship between a grown, unstable, and distant daughter, Kim, and her mother who is suffering from dementia. Their relationship is rather strained because Kim believes her mother intentionally poisoned her as a child. How did this scenario present itself to you? What were some influences that helped you create this situation between these two characters?

"Poems as an outlet for shock and grief": an Interview with Marianne Kunkel

by Kelsey Conrad

Marianne Kunkel is Editor-in-Chief at Missouri Western State University's national undergraduate journal, The Mochila Review, and has been published in several journals including the Missouri Review, the Notre Dame Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Rattle. She is the author of The Laughing Game, and her book of poetry, Hillary, Made Up will come out in September.


Kelsey Conrad: Your book, Hillary, Made Up, is set to release in September.  The book seems political by nature, but one thing that I found particularly interesting is how much it seems to revolve around makeup, and the idea of putting on a face.  When during the writing process did that idea start to emerge, or was it one that you started with?

"Read. Read read read read read.": an Interview with Carmen Maria Machado

by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Our Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest is open for submissions. Want some insight into what this year's judge, Carmen Maria Machado, is looking for? Read on! 

Your most recent book, Her Body and Other Parties, is a collection of short stories; your forthcoming book is a memoir. How do you conceptualize genre? Much of your work resists arbitrary borders, bending boundaries as part of craft—how does the construct or fluidity of genre influence your choices as a writer?

"We’re all constantly messing up and all constantly changing": an interview with Andrea Gibson

by Ilana Masad

Andrea Gibson’s newest book, Take Me With You, is a pocket-sized collection of one-liners, couplets, greatest hits, and longer form poetry. Reading straight through it will fill your heart to the brim, while taking it slow will provide droplets of necessary insight and humor into otherwise gray days. Andrea Gibson was kind enough to speak to assistant nonfiction editor Ilana Masad about their work. Click here to buy Take Me With You.


Ilana Masad: Because your poems often include a musical element, a rhythmic element, but also work on the page, written down, I wonder—what is your writing process like?

"That writing should challenge readers with the most difficult truths": An Interview with Heather Johnson

by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Heather Johnson is the winner of our 2017 Summer Nonfiction Contest for her essay "Nowhere Place," which is forthcoming in our Spring Issue. Click here to subscribe to Prairie Schooner today.


Sarah Fawn Montgomery: Your essay, “Nowhere Place,” describes both a literal space, “a nowhere place surrounded by mesas, embedded in a valley of sand and weeds,” as well as a mental space, a “sense of unbelonging even to my own self.”  How did you go about writing about the Navajo Indian Reservation and dissociation? What freedoms and challenges did each present?

"Be patient. Keep working. Be persistent.": An Interview with Esmé Weijun Wang

by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

Our annual summer nonfiction contest is currently open to all types of creative nonfiction essays up to 5,000 words. The entry fee is $20 and includes a copy of the Spring 2018 issue of Prairie Schooner, in which the winning essay will appear. Our guest judge, Esme Weijun Wang, will name a winner and finalist. The winner will receive $250 and publication in our Spring 2018 issue. Below is an interview with Wang that touches on the art of writing, both fiction and nonfiction, living with chronic illness, and more.


SFM: The Border of Paradise is your debut novel, and your second book is the forthcoming essay collection, The Collected Schizophrenias. How did you arrive at each of these projects? Do your writing processes and practices differ depending on genre?

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