Emily Corwin’s nonfiction piece “The Powers That Be” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 19, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I’m a native Michigander, but I’ve been living in Ohio for the last six years for school. In the fall, I’ll be living in Indiana for my MFA—I just can’t seem to leave! I love the Midwest, especially the landscape—corn stalks, lakes, gorgeous woods. Recently, I went to the beach in North Carolina and I realized, with all the sand and shells, I just don’t feel attachment to that landscape the way I do with like maple trees in northern Michigan. The woods frequently inform my writing—I’m drawn both to their spookiness and their beauty. I like writing from a fairy-tale place and the Midwest is that for me.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
The Midwest is home for me (so maybe I’m biased) but I do feel a sense of comfort here. There’s a goodness, a decency to Midwestern people and places that puts you at ease. It could be home to anyone.
How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head—play a role in your writing?
My family owned a cottage in northern Michigan, in a small town called Ludington, and we drove there each summer. There were so many quirks to that place: the three-legged deer that walked the hills, the House of Flavors for ice cream, getting plastic ponies from Fort Daul, s’mores night on Mondays by the lake. I used to bury my marshmallows and graham crackers in the sand because I only wanted the chocolate. Ludington was where I first started writing poems and where I first encountered real Michigan woods. That pine sap smell stays with me.
Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
I like to begin projects in coffee shops, but I craft and edit my writing alone, usually somewhere I can read it aloud. If I’m stuck in a writing rut (like I have been recently), I re-read my favorite books. I return to poets like Lucie Brock-Broido, Warsan Shire, Pablo Neruda, to remind myself what I love in writing, why I am doing this to begin with.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
For the most part, I am good at saying “This is piece is done, let’s move on”. Reading the writing aloud helps with polishing it—if the it sounds good on the tongue, then for me, the piece is finished!
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
I am loving Lara Glenum lately. Her poems are playful and sensual— there’s a grotesque sexiness to her work that I really admire.
What’s next for you?
This fall, I will be an MFA candidate at Indiana University for poetry. I also have a chapbook coming out from Brain Mill Press, so keep an eye out for that!
Where can we find more information about you?
You can find me on Instagram and Twitter @exitlessblue