In The Field: Conversations With Our Contributors–Emily Tuszynska

by Aug 7, 2018

1. Tell us about your poem in Volume 20. How did it come to be?Emily Tuszynska in Water~Stone Review

My third child was born in the springtime. The weather was absolutely luscious, and I spent a few days cuddling her in bed as my milk came in and I recovered from her birth. We left the windows open day and night. 

Between naps and nursing sessions I read the paper, watched the baby yawn and stretch after her months in increasingly cramped quarters, and listened to the gaggle of neighborhood children sweeping in and out of the downstairs rooms with my older children. The ideas began to percolate then but the poem was not completed until my daughter was in preschool.

2. What was an early experience that led to you becoming a writer?

A few years ago my father sent me a photocopy of a page in a journal he kept when I was eight years old. He described me running around with a notebook and the stub of a pencil in my back pocket and recorded my explanation that I planned to be a poet and write about my feelings. Capturing the emotional resonance of an image or experience is still a driving force in my work.

3. How has writing shaped your life?

Writing—and reading—allows me to experience my life more intensely and to be more fully present in it. It has also forced me to structure my life in order to make time to be at my desk.

4. What books, writers, art, or artists inspire you and your work?

Style of Desiderio da Settignano, Saint John the Baptist, 1400/1899, terracotta, Samuel H. Kress Collection 1943.4.83

Jane Kenyon was an early poetry love. I picked up her books as a college student in the poetry section of my local bookstore because one was blurbed by Annie Dillard, my favorite writer at the time. Living near Washington, D.C., I’m fortunate to have free access to many art exhibitions. Shows by Desiderio da Settignano and Bill Viola were touchstones that I returned to many times, as well as the work of local artist, Charles Ritchie who captures the mystery present in my domestic, suburban landscape. 

Charles Ritchie, Winter Night, 1999-2012

I’ve also sought out contemporary poetry about the experience of motherhood. Books by Rachel Zucker, Carrie Fountain, and Sarah Vap are some of my favorites, although I’m happy to say there are many, many more. 


5. What projects or pieces are you working on right now?

My kids are getting a little older, and after a decade dominated by bearing, nursing, and mothering very young children, I’ve entered a new period of change and uncertainty and I’m looking ahead to what’s next. The manuscript I’m working on now reflects this shift and is full of poems of exploration and wandering.

Follow Emily on Twitter here.

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