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I am Maggie Smith.

Poetry is my art.



Maggie on Writing

"Sometimes the best thing I can do to improve a poem is to loosen my grip on it. It sounds a bit counterintuitive; 'you can achieve more by not doing too much' but often it’s true: if you tie up every loose end, if you scrub all the strangeness and wildness and ambiguity out of it, you can revise the life right out of a poem if you’re not careful. You can put its light out."

"I’m big on letting strangeness into your work. I tell students to trust themselves, to do their best to shake off doubt and insecurity as they draft, and to be careful not to revise the wildness out of their poems. Read widely. Write whenever and wherever you can. Be bold."

"My creative process is one of gathering and accruing. Like a magpie, a bird who collects any small, glittering bauble that catches its eye, I see or hear or read things that interest me all of the time."

"My kids inspire my writing all the time, especially now that both of them are talking (constantly) and asking questions like 'What is the earth for?' and 'Why is the sky so tall and over everything?' I find myself writing out of the experience of watching them read the world like a book they’ve just opened, knowing nothing of the characters or plot. Introducing my children to the world has opened my eyes to parts of it I’ve taken for granted."

"One of the most important things I am constantly learning is that the work will come. There will be another poem. There will be another book. Never fear."

"I love that, at this point, after so many years, I’m writing poems even when I’m not writing poems. I was driving the other day and in the daycare parking lot I realized I was saying a line out loud and fiddling with the rhythm and syntax. It’s part of the way I think, part of how I process what I see and hear when I’m walking my daughter to school or driving to the dentist or sitting on my couch. I’m not always 'writing' either by hand or typing but I am always writing. The thinking counts. It’s a huge part of the process."

"I can’t choose a favorite book; my other books might be listening, after all. But I will say that I could not be happier with my second book, *The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison*. In some ways that book means more to me than the others because it showed me that the seemingly impossible is, in fact, possible."

"Columbus is a big city, so there are a lot of opportunities, but the arts community also feels intimate enough to make contacts, meet people across disciplines, and find ways to give back."

"I love that the arts scene in Columbus has grown and expanded so much over the past twenty years or so. There are so many talented people in this city, of all ages;musicians and composers, painters, ceramicists, designers; and I have to believe that the cost of living in Columbus makes being an artist here possible. People can afford to raise children and make art here."

"For me form follows function in the poems. If I break a poem into regular stanzas, such as couplets, for example, it’s so I can use white space for pacing and for (literal) ‘breathing room’ on the page. If I want a poem to read more quickly and conversationally, I might not break it into stanzas at all."

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