“I write these things through a steady chiseling away at myself…”


caitlinFor some reason, when I post interviews I always want to recount how I met the interviewee. In this way, this blog has also become a catalogue of first impressions. I met poet Caitlin Scarano my first day at my PhD school in my lit seminar. I was entirely intimated. (Am I smart enough to be here?) Except for Caitlin and myself, the room was entirely male. These men liked to drop theorists’ names and wanted to “create knowledge.” (Actual quote.) The first day of class we went around the room and introduced ourselves and our discipline. When I learned that she was also a poet, I was like, um, why isn’t she smiling at me. I later learned it is because she is Caitlin.

Through multiple weeks of class, starting an orchard on campus, and running beside a river with a dog who is afraid of water, we became friends. She has just published her first book of poetry, Do Not Bring Him Water, by Write Bloody Press, out of Los Angeles, CA. Here is our interview.

What do you write? 

I write teeth and salt and different shades of blue.

I think about living in a body a lot, how bodies are shaped by culture, history, and language.

I think about living in a body that has done things or had things done to it, one that had collided with and loved other bodies.

Addicted body. Body that harms itself. Body that has been left. Body that will die.

I think about place and how much where we are makes us who we are.

Is it cool again yet to like the moon? I also often write about the moon.

How do you write it? 

I write these things through a steady chiseling away at myself while at a desk and it is lonely and monotonous most of the time but sometimes it is when the world makes sense to me.

Can you tell us a little bit about your job(s)/role(s) and how you got there?

I’m a student (grade 25?). I also do freelance writing and research. This work isn’t easy or glamorous. I spend a lot of time alone staring at a computer screen. I even got the special glasses that help protect your eyes from that shit.

I got into this work by asking around a lot. When asked if I could do something (like analyzing data, building a website, running a blog, etc.) — whether I had experience with that thing or not — I always said yes and then tried to figure it out. Sometimes it works..


How do these job(s) challenge/influence/inspire your writing life?

Being in a PhD program for poetry has been both challenging and rewarding. My dissertation advisor (Hi, Brenda!) is especially supportive. She works really hard for her students. I’ve learned a lot from my peers in workshops. I think it is important to regularly read and think about poems that have different styles and subject matter than your own.

Freelance work allows me to travel and live wherever I want, which is really important to me. Experience and place feed my sense of self and my writing.


Do you have a source of inspiration you turn to regularly? (What is it?)

When in doubt, I open Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey.

To read more by Caitlin Scarano, check out her poems at Hobart



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