Mormons, Academia, and Romantic Poets: An Interview with Lisa Heiserman Perkins

Lisa Heiserman Perkins has a PhD from the University of Chicago. She taught at Tufts, Harvard, and Emerson College, and then left academia to write and to produce documentary films. Her work has appeared in Dislocate, Quiddity, Under the Sun, and Front Range Review, among others. Her film, Secret Intelligence: Decoding Hedy Lamarr, is in post-production. Lisa lives in Somerville, MA.

On an appropriately blossoming Spring afternoon, I spoke with Lisa Heiserman Perkins about being brought up in academia, quirky English teachers, her meandering path as a writer and her story in issue 8 of The Fourth River, “Buds, and Bells, and Stars without a Name.”

The Fourth River: Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you come to be a writer? Did you always know it’s what you wanted to do?

Lisa Heiserman Perkins: I grew up in Chicago in the ’50s and ’60s. My father was a medievalist at the University who also wrote novels and hung around with writers. You’d think that coming from a literary, academic family would be an advantage, and in profound ways of course it was, but it was also an impediment. When I was a tot and my father and his not-yet-successful friends were under 30, from my knee-high perspective, they were all handsome giants lounging around on Saturday afternoons tippling and smoking and either speaking truths in low tones or laughing their heads at who knew what. In that era, novelists were the king-gods of the literary world.

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