Poetry News

In Conversation with Craig Morgan Teicher

By Harriet Staff

Craig Morgan Teicher has joined The Literary Review as Poetry Editor. They made the announcement on their website. Ryan Romine, former Assistant Poetry Editor came up with some questions for Teicher.

Here's a taste:

How do you approach the writing process? Are you a person who follows a strict schedule or do you write at different points throughout the day/week as the impulse strikes you? Why do you think this method works for you?

Well, I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t need to sit at a desk for hours every day to write things. I write in lots of short sessions whenever I can, pretty regularly. I find 20 minutes a few days a week, and then maybe a couple hours at a time on the weekends. I have two small children, so they are in charge of the family calendar. But I remember when I was little there used to be this set of study tips on tape that my parents bought me called “Where There’s A Will There’s An A,” and the guy who made these tapes had this idea about taking lots of breaks because, he said, our concentration is strongest at the beginning and end of a session of work. I think that’s how I write–lots of short spurts. Also, I can’t really write unless I’m deeply engaged in reading, usually poetry. Good things tend to come when I’m in the middle of a book I love. Writing and reading aren’t separate activities for me.

I imagine your approach to the writing process differs somewhat between prose and poetry (or maybe it doesn’t), can you elaborate on these differences?

Most of the prose I write is work-for-hire: I do a lot of book reviews and short essays about literature usually for general interest publications, meaning I’m trying to explain how to read poetry to an audience less familiar with poetry than I am–or, if I do it right, this kind of prose should be engaging both to poetry people and to readers who don’t always sleep with a book of poems on their night table. So I tend to be pretty methodical and plodding about the prose: I have a due date and work for a couple of hours at a time in the week or two before the due date and just get it done, hammering at the paragraphs until they aren’t terrible. With poems, there’s no due date so I just amble along until it gets somewhere surprising.

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Originally Published: February 15th, 2012