An Interview With Poet Kathleen Winter

Poet Kathleen Winter

This week at the Poetry Blog of 32 Poems Magazine my interview with poet Kathleen Winter was posted. She’s a contributor to the magazine and was a delight to interview, especially since we share a love of trees and dogs.

First, let me tantalize you with a bit from the interview, and then you can go on over and check the rest out for yourself.

Without further ado, here’s the interview.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just a poet, what else should people know about you?

I love living in the country, being outdoors. After growing up in Texas, I shipped out to Massachusetts after college, then to California and lately to Arizona to get an MFA at Arizona State University. My favorite job ever was night-shift in a Brookline bookstore, working with lots of other writers. I love the Pacific. I’m not religious; yoga is about as spiritual as I get. I’ve worked as a baker, tech editor, lawyer and writing teacher. I’m a sloooow reader. The last time I had a TV was in 1989–can’t take that stuff. Also, I’m looking for a teaching job! Within two hours drive of Glen Ellen, California.

Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any “writing” books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).

I’m a junkie for school, so I’ve loved being in an MFA program, and all the workshops, classes, readings, conversations that involves. Before going back to school I was in several workshops with poets in Sonoma County, Calif.,  and at Esalen Institute at Big Sur. Those experiences helped keep poetry at the forefront while I was working as a lawyer.

The essays in Stephen Dobyns‘ collection “Best Words Best Order” and Jane Hirshfield’s “Nine Gates” have helped me to better understand what I want to accomplish technically, and how to go after it. Maybe more importantly, I find that reading good non-fiction can inspire me to immediately want to write. Donald Hall’s anthology of essays by poets, “Claims for Poetry” is useful but frustrating, because Hall includes far too few women poets and far too few poets of color.

In terms of friendships, have your friendships changed since you began focusing on writing? Are there more writers among your friends or have your relationships remained the same?

Many more writers now. ! Halleluja !

Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.

Now, while I’m finishing up the last semester of the MFA program in Tempe, I write in a rented room in a house that’s two states to the east of the house in California where my partner and dog live. So the ideal writing space is back in Glen Ellen with Finnegan lounging next to me in the ratty dog bed. My desk right now is two filing cabinets with a board across them; I’m looking at drywall. Back home I often write in bed, and look out through the windows at douglas firs, toyon, and madrone trees.

She also included a poem for readers to check out:

Wrong Sonnet:  Multiplicity

My husband asks Why don’t you write a poem
about why you like Virginia Woolf when
nobody else does.
The excruciating detail of a marriage
is what I like, I say, the drifting
in and out of Clarissa’s mind and into Peter’s,
how they notice the flow of London traffic
as a living animal, how they feel
themselves distributed in sub-atomic
bits into each other and over the city’s squares
and towers, out into the hedgerows, the waves.
But Clarissa wasn’t married to Peter
he would say, if he’d read it, she was
married to Richard. And I’d say
maybe she was, maybe she was.

–Previously published in The New Republic.

About the Poet:

Kathleen Winter has published poems in Tin House, Barrow Street, The Cincinnati Review, Anti-, The New Republic, Field, and other journals.  In 2010, the City of Phoenix selected her poetry for its 7th Avenue Streetscape Public Art Project, and she received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Virginia G. Piper Center.  Her chapbook Invisible Pictures was published in 2008.  Kathleen is poetry co-editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review.  She attends the MFA program at Arizona State University.

Please check out the rest of the interview on 32 Poems Blog.


  1. Great interview! I can’t believe she’s been with television for so long. Wish I could get rid of mine sometimes, but I think the husband would kill me. I thought the poem was interesting. Made me think I need to read more Woolf.
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