Interview: The Mark of Real Life : An Interview with Allison Joseph

Allison Joseph was born in London, England in 1967. She is the author of What Keeps us Here, which won the 1992 Women Poets Series Prize from Ampersand Press, a publisher of poetry and fiction based at Roger Williams College in Bristol, Rhode Island. The book, dedicated to Allison’s late mother, also won the John C. Zacharias First Book Prize from Emerson College and Ploughshares. She is the recipient of the 2009 Aquarius Press Legacy Award, the Literary Award from the Illinois Arts Council, the Associated Writing Programs Prize, the Academy of American Poets Prize, the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Sewanee Writers’ Conference Fellowship, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship. A graduate of Kenyon University, Joseph is currently the editor and poetry editor of the Crab Orchard Review and Director of the Young Writers’ Workshop, as Director of the SIUS MFA Program in Creative Writing, Professor Joseph also maintains a blog about the graduate creative writing program.

At the time of this interview, her most recent books were My Father’s Kites (Steel Toe Books, 2010) and Trace Particles (Backbone Press, 2014).

BJ: When and why did you begin writing?

AJ: I was one of those kids who couldn’t shut up. That’s what I’d get on my report card. You know, “talks too much in class” so that’s part of it. Always much more interested in language than in numbers, which accounts for my poor math skills to this day(laughing). And as soon as I discovered poetry, I knew that it was going to be a part of my life. Probably around the same age a lot of people discover poetry. Probably early pre-teen kind of age.

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