Interview with poet Margaret Young
Written by
Laura Brennan
March 2012
Written by
Laura Brennan
March 2012

Margaret Young is a poet, a teacher, a mother, an actress, a playwright, an essayist, and a dear friend.  Her first poetry collection, Willow from Willow was published in 2002, and her most recent one, Almond Town, in late 2011. 


Laura Brennan: You're a poet, but you've also written children's plays, essays and memoir.  What draws you to a particular form or project?

Margaret Young: Poetry has tended to sneak up on me unbidden at various times of my life, so it never felt quite like work, my true earned identity. I didn’t take myself seriously as a writer until I discovered creative nonfiction. It was new and challenging, and it wasn’t something my father (the poet) did.

LB: Are you writing poetry exclusively now?

MY: Yes, but I’ve been eyeing the other side more and more. I think I’ll start back into nonfiction with small pieces, targeted locally.

LB: What do you feel is your strength as a writer?  What do you do well?

MY: When I’m able to get out of my own way, I tap into the deep, weird stuff that makes poems come alive, connect to the unconscious or nonhuman or archetypal, all that woo-woo. I’m also crazy about the sounds and rhythms of language and I know that comes out in most of what I write.

LB: What do you do less well?  How do you handle that?

MY: Revision, beyond small musical matters, is hard, I have difficulty stepping back and outside from the work. I’ve found a couple of workshops that help, and some really good readers.

LB: How has it been marketing your book?  Is it exhilarating, exhausting? Does it get easier with each book?

MY: This book’s been harder because I had slightly higher expectations, brought on by changes in media and marketing since the first one (2002). But I also have fewer poet-connections and mobility from living in a new-ish place with a young’un. I had to get over feeling terrible that I wasn’t this go-getting, blogging, uber-connected type. But several readings in a row this spring will remind me why I bother. . .

LB: What's the one piece of advice you'd give a poet putting together her first book?

MY: Don’t rush it. Take a lot of time to get to know the poems, how they talk to each other, and to readers.

LB: How has being a mom influenced your writing?

MY: Besides the massive time-suck? I think it’s made me focus on my poetry, and be content with that, for now.

LB: What's the most difficult thing about being a poet?  What's the most rewarding?

MY: I can’t think of any particular difficulties, other than the vague old can’t-change-the-world variety, though I work that out a bit through my teaching. Most rewarding, I think, is the joy of fellowship with poets living and dead, including my son Quentin, not quite four, who composed a nonsense rhyme recently. Sort of this parallel universe of enhanced sound quality and particularized attention and anguish and joy we tap into all the time.

LB: Thank you!

Check out Margaret's gorgeous new website at


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