Interview with Danielle Hanson


What is a current project you are working on?

I’ve happily overextended myself recently.  There are so many projects I want to bring into the world.  My second collection Fraying Edge of Sky just won the Codhill Press Poetry Award and is coming out later this year, so I’m in the middle of edits with the press.  I’m going through the same process from the other side as editor of Doubleback Books, working with Virginia Chase Sutton on her manuscript, which will also come out this year.  I’m teaching a workshop/poetry lit class at the library, translating a book of Swedish poetry, working on my next manuscript, and collaborating on a poetry puppet show.  I wish I had more time!

What is the piece of writing advice, good or even bad, that you have received that has impacted you the most?

You are not your poem.

This phrase allows me to take risks in my writing, and allows me to send work into the world even though it will probably be rejected a few times before it find its audience.

What are some of the greatest influences upon your writing, whether other writers or outside influences?

I’m re-reading Carolyn Forche’s Against Forgetting.  It’s a massive book (over 750 pages) containing poetry of conflict from 1900-1990’s.  There are so many writers in there I read when I was first starting to write, and who influenced me—Neruda, Montale, Milosz, Symborska, . . . So many amazing poems.

The biggest personal influence on my writing would be the faculty and students during my undergrad days: Rick Jackson, especially, who creates poets, and Bradley Paul, Paul Guest, Laurel Snyder, Karri Harrison Paul, Julia Beach Anderson, and so many others.  We learned to write together.

In grad school, Alberto Rios, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, and Norman Dubie were my teachers and influenced my writing greatly.  Norman taught me to pare down my language, which is still an editing technique I always need, and even used in my corporate job when making PowerPoint presentations.  I actually think I made executive based mainly on Norman’s advice.  Tito (Rios) taught magical realism, which fit with the poetry I already loved.

How do you find inspiration for your work, particularly these pieces?

I love the absurd.  I “borrow” phrases from poems I’m reading and love and ideas that come from those poems.  When I’m really stuck, I go to twitter and read MagicalRealismBot posts until I see enough to make my brain move again.  I like to give myself challenges.  Yesterday, I made a yo-mamma insult poem addressed to the moon, to see if I could.  Once you start with an absurdity, it’s fun to follow it through and see what invents itself.


Can you recommend one book that you think everyone should read and tell us why?

I already mentioned Against Forgetting.  It contains tons of major world writers.  There are so many wonderful books out there by individual writers.  It’s hard to say one.  Whenever I read a book that just floors me, I write it up on my blog ( so I can remember it and maybe someone else will see it and pick up the book and enjoy it too.   The most recent post is on Athena Farrokhzad’s White Blight, a book written by an Iranian immigrant to Sweden.