The bad news: we're closing our photo gallery segment for the foreseeable future to concentrate on publishing more fabulous poetry and art. The good news: this final gallery is our biggest gallery ever! Thanks so much to all the poets and artists who responded to our call and gave us a peek inside the space where the magic happens. Click on photos to enlarge.
NAME: Alina Borger
GENRES: poetry, nonfiction, YA fiction
I write in my studio. I love this space because it is entirely my own. It is quiet. It looks out to trees and the creek. I chose every object in the room to be beautiful or nurture creativity. And I've made lots of poems and books here.
Alina tweets @AliBG.
NAME: Alexis Rhone Fancher
I write poetry in the early morning when the city is quiet, and my creativity is loudest. Every day at 5 am, you'll find me in my studio at the computer. A giant cup of French Roast coffee, and Glenn Gould, playing Bach’s "Goldberg Variations," completes the scene. Later in the day I'll still be there, editing (both my poems and those of my clients’), submitting work to lit mags, and working on photos for my monthly series in Cultural Weekly, "The Poet’s Eye," and elsewhere. The mock-up of the book cover for How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen & other heart stab poems, was later abandoned in favor of something “less controversial.” The sexy ankle belongs to the poet, Elya Braden. Those poems tacked up to my cork board are from The New Yorker, a tease and an aspiration.
Visit Alexis on the internet at alexisrhonefancher.com.
NAME: Amy Strauss Friedman
GENRES: poetry, nonfiction
I live in a 120-year-old convent in Chicago that was recently rehabbed and restored and turned into condos. Our living room, dining room, and kitchen all share an open, well-lit space. I typically write at my kitchen counter with sun light streaming through the convent's oversized picture windows; church bells ring periodically from across the street. In this space I feel focused and peaceful and part of a larger history.
Amy tweets @amyfriedmanlit.
NAME: Ashley Hutson
GENRES: poetry, fiction
My main working area is my couch. My main working posture is a slouch. Sometimes I write at the kitchen table, but slouching on the couch feels much better to my crooked spine (although it's probably much worse for it). I've thought about buying a decent chair, but my cat and I have been working on destroying this sofa for ten years, so it has become a significant investment.
NAME: Christine Stoddard
GENRES: fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, plays
I write in the past, the present, and the future--in places I've lived and traveled, as well as where I live now. I am nostalgic and, therefore, a frequent revisitor, but I also am a dreamer who travels a lot, sometimes more than I should. I write in the car, on the train, in the air, in parks and libraries and coffee shops. I have no favorite place to write because it is rarely consistent. But wherever I write, I bring the Virginia of my childhood and youth with me--from Arlington to Richmond to Charlottesville and beyond.
Visit Christine on the web at www.wordsmithchristine.com.
NAME: Debra McQueen
I like to write in this spot when the afternoon light comes in through the window. It's especially nice in spring and fall, when the colors change and I can sit with the window open and hear the birds. I write every day, or try to anyway, and each week on the weekend I'll transcribe something from it onto my Chromebook and turn it into a poem.
Visit the website for Debra's first full-length collection, Bad Girlfriend, here.
NAME: Donna Vorreyer
The place where I create has no set walls or borders. Because I work full-time as a middle school teacher, for years I have squeezed my writing time in whenever and wherever I can - at my desk on my 20 minute lunch break, sitting in the car waiting for my son to finish guitar lessons, etc. I also never draft on the computer. Therefore my "place" is whatever journal I am currently using, always decorated with some memento of the time I'm using it. As long as I have that and a good pen (Dr. Grip's are my favorite), I write just about anywhere.
Donna tweets @djvorreyer.
NAME: Ellen McGrath Smith
When my partner went to renovate our attic after gutting it completely, he proposed to make it one room rather than the two it had been. I protested, as the smaller other room was going to be my study and I was thinking, you know, "room of one's own" sorts of things. He promised it would be ok as part of one big room. He created this little alcove, with a shelf and a bright little sconce-light on the wall, where I'm snug under the slant of the house roof. My daughter said, "Yeah, mommy, you always like to hole up in little spaces, so it'll work." She was right. So here it is now, a complete mess, but the place where I do most of my writing. There's the reminder about Peace that my therapist gave me. There's the little postal card-drawer from a dear writer friend who gave me this when she downsized and moved to Tucson. There's a hunk of stone from the Asbury Park boardwalk an ex gave me, knowing I'm a huge Springsteen fan. And I'm holding a feather, the "quill" I found on the ground outside of St. Marks in New York after I participated in a reading there to promote Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. When I show up here, mess or not, I can focus. And for sun, there's a door to a balcony just behind me, though I also have a Philips goLite for Pittsburgh's many gray days.
NAME: Elizabeth Onusko
I mostly write at my desk, which resides in front of a big window in our living room. I need the formality of sitting in a comfortable chair to help my mind focus, and staring out of the window just daydreaming is an important part of my process.
Visit Elizabeth on the web at elizabethonusko.com.
NAME: Hananah Zaheer
I have written everywhere: under trees, in cafes, in waiting rooms at doctor's offices, but his room in my house is the only place that feels like a space of my own. The lined shelf of books behind me as I sit serves as a great motivator of the "If they did it, so can I" variety. It helps that no one else is allowed in. All that goes into that room is a writing mindset with the hope that the only thing that will come out will be some pages of fiction.
Visit Hananah on the web at hananahzaheer.com.
NAME: Hannah Baggott
I used to only write in coffee shops, but now, in my first year as a full-time English faculty member, I have to make a conscious effort to find time in my days to work on my poetry. The old picnic table right outside my office is perfect for writing sessions over coffee before the day begins and in between the classes I teach. This space reminds me that I will always have at least a little time each day to invest in writing.
Connect with Hannah online at hannahbaggott.com.
NAME: Jennifer MacBain-Stephens
GENRES: poetry, hybrid
I carved out this space for myself in our home’s basement. When we first moved in over a year ago, this room was like a huge refrigerator: cold white walls and a linoleum covered floor. We put in carpet and I painted this room light blue. The art on the walls consists of two paintings from a friend in Iowa City that she painted when she lived in Bosnia, a print from Studio 8, and a “Mad Men” painting my husband bought for me of Betty Draper smashing a chair in two. It is called “party planning,” inspired from one of the show’s early episodes. There is also a post card of Gilda Radner in a Girl Scout Uniform. I have lots of books in this room and I also realized, toys-- which is perfect because writing is about playing. I love writing in this room but I also realized that I can write out in public too. Recently, I wrote a poem on a napkin at a Richard Thompson concert while these old drunk men spilled tequila on the table in front of me. So there’s that.
Visit Jenny on the web here.
NAME: Jennifer Martelli
GENRES: poetry, reviews
I write in my kitchen, with many pairs of glasses, my owl apron, and of course, my little stone kitchen witch I bought in Avebury, England. I’ve always felt safest in the kitchens of every house I’ve ever lived.
Visit Jennifer on the web at www.jennifermartelli.com.
NAME: Katie Manning
I most often write on my computer at my desk. I'm an obsessive saver of drafts so that I won't ever lose anything by revising. I often do research for my poems, so I like to have all of the information on the web immediately available to me. I like to be surrounded by pens and sticky notes, photos and meaningful trinkets from loved ones.
Visit Katie on the web at www.katiemanningpoet.com.
NAME: Lauren Camp
My favorite place to write is lazing on my sofa. (I call it a “couch retreat.") For a long time, my husband and I joked that we bought the couch for the cat, but then I started claiming it for sleepless moments... and evenings I could ease into poetry (maybe after a glass of wine)... and days that weren’t really sick days, but that needed a stack of books in order to feel whole. I really will write almost anywhere: a plane, a coffee shop, my bed, a waiting room. But it’s the couch I love.
Visit Lauren on the web at www.laurencamp.com.
NAME; Monica Rico
Where I write is messy and cluttered, but it’s full of books. Books make me feel safe. I used to write on the kitchen table, but now I have a tiny room all to myself, where I can get lost..
Visit Monica on the web at www.slowdownandeat.com.
NAME: McKenzie Lynn Tozan
GENRES: poetry, microfiction, reviews
For years, I wrote wherever I could: at the kitchen table, on the couch, behind the couch to avoid the television, outside, anywhere. Then when my husband and I came to view our to-be home, while I was huge with pregnancy, we walked into a second living room with large windows… and Dragan walked me back to the doorway, and spread his arms wide, saying, “This is going to be your library.”
So now, the room has new floors, and both long walls are lined in bookcases stuffed with books. And at the head of the room, there is my writing desk and my writing trunk. The writing trunk was saved from a bonfire and is full of my old writing and drawing projects. The corkboard is covered in places I’ve been, writers I’ve met and books I’ve read. And on the desk, I have a lamp that reminds me of Pixar and all the lanyards from all the conferences I’ve attended. Then on the pullout part, meant for a keyboard, I write or type, and the main desk is saved for my three cats (the one in the picture is Kovu, my oldest and my always-companion).
NAME: Muriel Leung
Three months into my move to Louisiana, I backed out of my driveway and broke my side view mirror trying to avoid an overgrown banana tree. I understand this to be a way of life here. You give in to the green. When it rains, you allow the sky all its sighs and whatever rage follows. Everything grows, dies, and grows again twice as large. It is not a story of triumph—it just is. Here is a photo of my desk overlooking my front porch where I write often, watching the rain for assorted ghosts. On the left is one of many early versions of my Bone Confetti manuscript prior to its acceptance for publication in 2016 through Noemi Press. This is where I learned--am still learning--patience.
Visit Muriel on the web at www.murielleung.com.
NAME: Nicole Rollender
My poems live in the dark, and I prefer to write in the dark, at night, at a big Mission-style desk in my bedroom. To write, I need quiet and solitude, to know my children are sleeping. I use both a note pad and laptop when I write, and usually sit cross-legged in my swivel chair. There's an element of loneliness to writing, so I make my work space welcoming to myself: I light candles, melt wax incense, turn on my battery-powered "let your light shine" inspiration painting. I surround myself with piles of poetry books. I do need a desk of my own, to close out the rest of my day-life, to carve out some moments to read, write and revise.
Visit Nicole on the web at www.nicolerollender.com.
NAME: Risa Denenberg
I moved to Sequim, WA from Seattle for a job. Amazingly, I found a little house in a quiet corner of the Olympic Peninsula where my writing desk looks out over Discovery Bay, and where, on a clear day, I see Mt Baker in the distance. When I sit at my desk and glance out at my world I feel like I'm at a writers' retreat in my own home.
NAME: Ruth Foley
I do most of my writing on my couch, which would probably be the most boring “where I write” photo ever, so I offer instead this picture of the second place where I write: my office on campus. This windowsill is filled with gifts from friends and students. The cactus is wearing a tie because a student asked me to take care of her “boyfriend” over summer break one year and never took him back. I named him Vlad (see what I did there?) and gave him a tie. He’s my boyfriend now. I have a dear friend who is going to be upset that the Carl Kasell doll she sent me doesn’t show up in this picture (that’s his hand there, behind Jane Austen and Edgar Allen Poe), but I guess it just proves that we can’t have nice things. I keep gifts from writer friends here because doing so keeps their humor and their love with me and reminds me why I write.
Visit Ruth's blog, Five Things.
NAME: Sarah A. Chavez
GENRES: poetry, creative/critical hybrid, blogging
At this point in my life and career, this is where I do much of my creative work: our second floor home office. It’s a lovely space with big windows, which in the summer allows the breeze to cool the room and where I can listen to the different bird songs, watch the leaves change colors in the fall. Being able to stare out the window, I feel in communication with nature without getting bit by mosquitoes. The level of messy chaos in the picture is pretty accurate (as is the furry companion parked in front of the monitor). Even though it gets a little crowded, I love having stacks of the books I’m currently obsessed with or ones I’m planning to read next within reach. When I get stuck, I just pick one of them up. Reading and proximity to trees have always been some of my best creative catalysts.
NAME: Sasha Kasoff
GENRES: poetry, fantasy, memoir
Nowadays I always have my phone on me, so I write while walking, waiting at the bus, on the bus, on campus, at home, in bed - wherever I am when something comes to me. Currently, I am living in Oxford for a year, and my campus is truly a beautiful place to write.
NAME; Sally Deskins
GENRES: art, arts writing
This is my studio. I’m so fortunate to have one. I used to create in my studio apartment, and, recently, in my bedroom or other areas where I’d have to put my work away after I was done so the kids wouldn’t mess! Now I’ve got a place of respite among my children’s and friend’s artwork and some of my own, where I can pile my research and artwork, and leave it out ready for next time. I paint, draw and write pretty much everywhere--on the floor, on the table, on the couch. I move around from one project to the next, continuously inspired by the work around me with a glimpse of the outdoors through the window. It’s up away from the rest of the house; it’s quite a dream I confess.
Visit Sally on the internet at Les Femmes Folles.
NAME; Sarah Lilius
I primarily write here on our couch even though I have a desk downstairs. I like to play music on headphones so that I’m able to concentrate. I have two sons and they often take up too much space on the couch, as pictured.
Visit Sarah on the web at sarahlilius.com.
NAME: Simone Stoll
MEDIA: video, photography, charcoal, watercolor, and more
The bubble I need to create, I carry with me; when necessary I blow it up to cushion my senses against other input. The photo shows a part of my desk at my studio. Over the years I have preferred simple means, the perfect paper, water and ink and a few selected brushes and, of course, space. Nature stimulates my creations, whether in video or in thought, and so, I would call the forest behind my house the other studio.
Visit Simone on the web at simonestoll.com.
NAME: Stacey Balkun
I'm inspired by maps and distance. Whenever I'm stumped, I think of Rebecca Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost and the meaning of terra incognita, or unknown land. This old map with its terra incognita and imaginings of creatures traversing the unknown inspires me to push my poetry into that unknown space, even if it scares me.
Visit Stacey on the web at www.Stacey-Balkun.tumblr.com.
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