How long have you been writing?
I have been writing since I was age eight or nine. It was then that I crafted this gem: “I walked so very far away/I felt a greater love for the U.S.A.” Pure cheese, I know. But coming up with that bit gave me so much pleasure, that I just had to keep writing. Actually writing is a part of me. It’s how I strive to make sense of things; it’s how I attempt to put my mark on the world. And because I’m a high school English teacher, I try very hard to help others write, which means I spend a lot of time thinking about the kinds of circumstances and activities that get people writing.
What’s your connection to the Midwest?
I’ve lived most of my life in North Dakota, which, technically speaking is the Great Plains. My Midwest connection is that I spend time in the summer in Minnesota working on an almost-hobby farm my husband and I have there. Plus, most of my United States travel has been in and around the Midwest.
How has the Midwest influenced your writing?
For a long time I thought I was resisting having the Midwest influence my writing. I was mostly writing about what I thought was my inner self, a self I didn’t necessarily see as connected to the Midwest, though, like lots of us here in North Dakota, travel means to go Minneapolis/St Paul, which I did on occasion. For a couple of years, I lived in California, and I missed the middle of the country so much, I finally acknowledged that I wasn’t just writing about myself but also about the areas in which I had lived and hung out. When I finally got back to the Plains and close to the Midwest, I was able to look up and around and see what I could intentionally write about.
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?
I’m not sure. Sometimes I think the Midwest feels like a place where things are so matter-of-fact, that, to some degree, writing about them might be unnecessary. Still, people write about the Midwest, because within that matter-of-factness, there’s material to be considered and written about.
How do you feel about social media to promote your writing, and do you use it?
Social media are terrific for promoting writing. I blog and hang out on Facebook, both of which have helped me connect with other writers. To some degree, where I live is rather isolated, so the Internet
allows me to participate in virtual communities, communities that aren’t so easily found face-to-face.
Bob Hicok’s Words for Empty And Words for Full takes my breath away.
Steak dripping with ketchup.
If you could have coffee (or tea or a beer) with any literary figure, alive or dead, who would
I sort of don’t want to meet any of the literary figures I really adore. Some mystery allows me to not be disappointed. Still, I would love to meet Mark Strand just to tell him how important his poem “Keeping Things Whole” has been to me.
Where can we find more information about you?
I blog at http://nancydevine.blogspot.com.