“I was in my childhood home, but it was also a treehouse, but it was also a fire hydrant. But then the Rock walked in with a seat belt around his head—that kind of storytelling. Also, dreams are fun. If it was a poem-delivery service, I don’t think people would be interested.”—Poet Mathias Svalina, whose “Dream Delivery Service” provided subscribers in Buffalo, New York, with personalized dream narratives delivered by bicycle ($45) or mail ($60) as part of his monthlong residency at Just Buffalo Literary Center. According to the Buffalo News, nightmares cost $3.75 extra.
“Natural conversational rhythms are replaced by a slow, lilting delivery, like a very boring ocean. Long pauses—so long—hang in the air. Try and get comfortable. There’s no helping it. You’re in for a night of Poet Voice.”—Atlas Obscura staff writer Cara Giaimo, in “An Algorithmic Investigation of the Highfalutin ‘Poet Voice’ ”
“I think there’s a de-mystification that’s really important. I remember a couple of women [coming in for class], saying, ‘Oh god, you’re so different than I expected. You’re just such a real person.’ I’m like…what does that mean? It was sweet, but I also felt like, am I disappointing? I’m just this lady with wet hair sitting on her couch.”—YA legend Francesca Lia Block, on teaching Weetzie Bat–fan-filled private writing classes in her home, in the late 2000s, at Lit Hub. The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process is Block’s latest book.
“They used to accuse me of overwriting, and I think that was the fun of this book. There are definitely overwritten parts, but it’s a joke. The sentences go way longer than they should with much more ornate metaphors; those were great fun to write. But the humor is that it’s too much. I found a way to use what I knew could be a flaw and make it structurally necessary. I don’t know why I can’t be spare, but I just can’t. I decorate my home like a Portuguese widow. What can you do?”—Andrew Sean Greer, on his 2018 Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, Less, in Esquire
“Certainly not. I mean, this is a—you know, the emotional truth is very much my own. But you would have to know me pretty well to understand what in the text is autobiographical. I’ll tell you one thing since we’re friends now: that I do make spaghetti carbonara just like Rebecca does in the book, and I always guiltily throw a package of spinach into it.”—Rumaan Alam, on whether he drew on “personal experiences” to write his sophomore novel, That Kind of Mother, on NPR
Megan Labrise is a staff writer and the co-host of the Kirkus podcast, Fully Booked. Photo above left of Andrew Sean Greer is by Kaliel Roberts; photo above right of Rumaan Alam is by David A. Land.