Contributor Spotlight: Lisa J. Cihlar

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_MG_2301sepia18x10 (2)Lisa J. Cihlar’s piece “Before Sunrise” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 6, out now.

How long have you been writing?
I won a poetry contest in the 4th grade. I dabbled in writing all of my life, but in 2006 I started writing poetry seriously. I have had a lot of luck getting things published since then.

What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I grew up in Door County, Wisconsin, kicked around the state for most of my life with a short stint in the suburbs of Chicago. Now I am settled in Brodhead, Wisconsin.

How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
I think a lot of my work has a strong sense of place and that is always the Midwest. The home my parents owned is surrounded by a cattail and willow swamp and my chapbook, The Insomniac’s House, is set there. The character in all of those poems is called Swampy Woman.

Why do you believe there has never really been a regionalist push for Midwestern writing in the past like there has with the South or even the West Coast?
Aren’t we too polite to brag about living in the best place on the planet? In reality, I’m not sure that is true. Jane Smiley, Willa Cather, Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson, Larry Watson, Louise Erdrich all come to mind. But the Midwest has such a diverse landscape I think it may be hard to pin a label on every book that is about the Midwest and compare them.

How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
I am a big Facebook user and I have met a huge number of writers there who I would not have otherwise met. I love it.

Favorite book?
The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx.

Favorite food?
Chicken Biryani or almost any curry.

If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would it be?
Mark Twain. I can still read Huck Finn and laugh out loud.

Where can we find more information about you?
I may be the only author on the planet who does not have a website, but Google my name and a bunch of my poems and interviews will pop up, or go to Crisis Chronicles Press to see my chapbook This is How She Fails, or Dancing Girl Press to get The Insomniac’s House.

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