Building community post by post


Writers work alone, it’s true. But it’s equally accurate that writers work in community once the word by word composition is finished. I’m thrilled for Backyard Sisters to be this week’s stop on The Writing Process Blog Tour by hosting a self-interview with Sara Henning.

sara picSara Henning is the author of the full-length collection of poetry A Sweeter Water (2013), as well as a chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (2012). Her poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Willow Springs, Bombay Gin and the Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review.

Here’s Sara…
The Writing Process Blog Tour
Many thanks to Catherine Keefe for hosting my installment of the vastly circulating Writing Process Blog Tour on her Backyard Sisters Blog!

 What am I working on?
I’ve been spending the past few months promoting and reading from my first volume of poetry, A Sweeter Water, as well as continuing to promote my chapbook, To Speak of Dahlias (2012). Both of these collections concern suicide, paternal order and the trope of longing. The reoccurring image of the dahlia weaves in and out of the fractured narrative as both a talisman and a taboo.

I have had the joy as of late to have been interviewed about these books by Laura Madeline Wiseman, editor of the groundbreaking Women Write Resistance, an anthology dedicated to resisting gender violence, and Sally Deskins of Les Femmes Folles. A collaborative interview with Laura Madeline Wiseman regarding these collections is also forthcoming on the Sundress Publications blog.

I’m also working on a collection of poetry entitled What Women Won’t Tell You, which I envision engaging with poetry as a means of embodied resistance to hegemonic narratives through both post-confessional protest and lyrical meditation.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As a poet, my work explores issues crucial to the current contemporary moment. Most specifically, it tends to address the quiet war on women waged at home. In the wake of cases such as Ariel Castro and the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard, I brace myself for every time I watch the news. Every few months, another woman is found locked in a basement. Every few seconds, there is a woman suffering in silence. Now, if you will, pit this against the current state of poetry, with its focus on professionalization and bohemianism from within the ivory tower.

By writing work that engages with the current cultural moment, I’m trying to avoid being a McWriter.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I can’t help it.
Also, because I’m sick of reading writers who masturbate on paper.

How does my writing process work?
I begin with an idea, and I obsessively research it. I look for anything I can find out about it through disparate sources (Wikipedia, databases through my university, books, other articles, you name it).

I’ll then try to think about its narrative and lyrical applicability to a concrete moment or action. I then write long-hand in my journal until I feel like I have captured the moment.

I then attempt to weave in different incarnations of what I have researched, so what emerges is a patchwork of intertextuality—my lyric informed by empirical data.

I then type it all into an electronic document and obsessively revise it until I can’t look at it anymore.

I repeat the revision process until I come up with something I can live with.

Then I start sculpting.


Thank you Sara for stopping by the Backyard Sisters.
Next week, on another host blog, The Writing Process Blog Tour will feature words from the amazing Matthew Silverman, Daniel Wallace and Teniesha A. Kessler-Emanuel. I’ll post the links when they’re live.

Teniesha A. Kessler-Emanuel is a Master’s candidate in the University of South Dakota’s English Department and a graduate teaching assistant. A published poet, her work can be found in several journals including the South Dakota Poetry Society’s Pasque Petals, the Vermillion Literary Project magazine, and Scurfpea Publishing’s Siesta anthology. Teniesha is also a visual artist, & upon finishing her degree, she intends on joining her two passions by illustrating her poetry.

Daniel Wallace is studying his PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Tennessee. His work has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Tampa Review, Fiction Writers Review, and Air Schooner. His first novel is being represented by Inkwell Management.

M. E. Silverman is editor and founder of Blue Lyra Review and Review Editor of Museum of Americana. He is on the board of 32 Poems and is a reader for Spark Wheel Press. His chapbook, The Breath before Birds Fly (ELJ Press, 2013), is available. His poems have appeared in over 75 journals, including:Crab Orchard Review, 32 Poems, December, Chicago Quarterly Review, North Chicago Review, Hawai’iPacific Review, Tupelo Quarterly, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Los Angeles Review, Tulane Review, Weave Magazine, Many Mountains Moving, Pacific Review, Poetica Magazine and other magazines. He recently completed editing Bloomsbury’s Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry with Deborah Ager and is working on Voices from Salvaged Words: An Anthology of Contemporary Holocaust Poetry.

Happy National Poetry Month





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