Interview with Amy Woolard

Amy Woolard, Charlottesville, Virginia

Amy Woolard

Amy Woolard

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I love lists, so here's a list about what I love, which is probably what says the most about me: 

My family, my dogs, my amazing friends. People who can make me laugh until I cackle. People who can turn a phrase. People who are comfortable with silence. People in the know. People who have no idea. People who know how to look at me. People who see right through me. People who hug well. Finding the perfect pen, the perfect notebook. The way songs seem to have more power when you listen to them either live on stage or in the car on a road trip (it's not the destination; it's the Journey's Greatest Hits). Outdoor dining with as many friends as can fit around the table. The first day of the year that you have to wear a sweater. The first day of the year that you don't have to wear a sweater. That moment when you finish a movie or book and you want to forget everything about it just to experience it all again. The first sip of coffee in the morning. Filling in the last word of the crossword puzzle. Taking the perfect nap. Watching people I like doing something that they love. That foxy feeling you get with someone, when you're in a room full of people together, but feel like you both know the same luminous secret that no one else knows. Words. Words. Words. Bourbon. Guinness. Shoes that make me taller. Wisecracks. Tattoos. Nostalgia. Smooches. Smirks. Gardenias. Bands. Porches. Imperfection.

How did you begin writing poetry?

In high school, an English teacher played a record (yes, an actual 33rpm record) for our class of T.S. Eliot reading Prufrock, and it sounded like the most amazing ghost story I'd ever heard. Soon after, I was introduced to heartbreak, and also wrecked by pop music, which I reckon both always seems to get the writing process going pretty strong, at first. Then, in college, I was fortunate to work with amazing teachers who gave me amazing things to read and who taught me craft, namely: Charles Wright, Rita Dove, Greg Orr and Larry Levis. All of whom, along with other wicked-talented friends and teachers there and later at Iowa, helped me more than they'll ever know.

Tell us about “A Girl Gets Sick of a Rose,” the poem that was selected for Best New Poets 2013.

BNP Woolard.jpg

It's a little bit of a misfit, compared to other things I've written and been writing, which don't usually follow a formal(ish) type of meter or rhyme. Though it certainly fits in the sense that I think a lot about the idea of “home”—leaving home, making a home, returning home, the character of a houseand a lot about how girls and women make their way in the worldespecially when they do it aloneand what happens in the process of confronting other people's expectations. So this poem kind of grew out of all that, I s'pose.

What question do you wish I'd asked? 

I guess, if anything, I'd've wished you'd asked who I've been reading lately or some recent-ish favorite books, because that's my favorite question to have answered by other writers, so here's what I would've said—these are all so stunning to me:

Jane Yeh, The Ninjas (and go back to her first book, Marabou, as well)

Mary Szybist, Incarnadine (and yay! for Mary, who was a workshop-mate of mine at both UVA and Iowa, for her National Book Award win for this)

Beth Bachmann, Temper

Allison Benis White, Small Porcelain Head

Arda Collins, It Is Daylight

Kerri Webster, Grand & Arsenal

Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture (and also congrats to Matt, though I don't know him, on *his* National Book Award nom for this)


Visit Amy on Facebook, Twitter, or on her website.  Read “A Girl Gets Sick of a Rose” and 49 other poems selected by Brenda Shaughnessy by ordering Best New Poets 2013, available now.