Contributor Spotlight: Margaret Yapp


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IMG_3054Margaret Yapp’s nonfiction piece “Goddamn It, Take Care of Each Other” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 19, out now.

What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?

Iowa has been my home for my entire life – I grew up in Iowa City and went to college in Decorah. It’s tough to say how this has influenced my writing, specifically, because I really think it has influenced my entire person. I really only write about myself, though, so the Midwest makes its way into almost every piece, at least in some tiny way.

What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?

The Midwest isn’t some flat expanse of corn and soybeans with tiny, conservative towns in between farms, like it is often made out to be. It is a diverse region, and my favorite part is how funny the people are. Midwesterners are about as kind, hardworking, and passive aggressive as they come.

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?

I’ve always been very, very sentimental. Like, to an annoying extreme. My physical place and space is a huge part of that. I get really attached to where I am living, my favorite spots, towns I drive through. Place often plays a role in my writing because of how much it means to me personally, and how much it can reveal.

Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but only started taking it seriously once I got to college. It is very much a therapy for me, so I try to write every day. I am a very dedicated journal keeper which is, for me, a low-pressure way to deal with writer’s block: if I start by writing just for myself, knowing that nobody else will ever see it, something useful will probably emerge.

I’m inspired by the every-day, lovely things that I witness, my family and friends, and other young writers making it happen like Wendy Xu, Tavi Gevinson, Franki Elliot, and many more.

How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?

When I start to hate it!

Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?

My very favorite poet is Li-Young Lee. He writes with unmatched grace and poise, and showed me how connected we all are. The first time I read his poem “Persimmons” I realized that no matter how different people can seem, we are all dealing with the same things, and walking down the same road.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently a terrified post-grad with no real plan! I do have the next twelve months figured out, however: I’ll be in Minneapolis working for a nonprofit and figuring out what I want to do.

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