Writing spaces are as varied as the individuals who occupy them. The range of “space” we enter for our writing practice is a wide, wild field from tidy to random, from Maya Angelou in a sparse hotel room to Marcel Proust in bed, from Jane Austen at the kitchen table to you: what does your writing space look like? Clear a path with second year MFA in poetry student Lisette Boer.
Where do you write?
I write at my desk, on napkins at restaurants, and on tiny scraps of paper here and there.
Stand, sit or other?
I walk, and I sit? Well… I walk until the thoughts in my head feel less clumsy and loud before I eventually sit down to write. I would love to say that I can simply sit down and write, but I am a chronic overthinker, and it plagues me. Until the “cattle” have cleared in my head and there’s a definitive path ahead, I need to move around and think.
What is your writing practice?
I start by exercising to clear my head or talking with friends/family about how life is going for each of us. A lot of my writing centers around girlhood as a sort of reclamation of my own or thoughts that I’m having a hard time letting go of. Therefore, I’m typically doing some introspection and reflection on the world around me before I even begin writing. If I’m not really feeling it, I’ll go to a museum or try to consume another medium of art besides writing.
Once I get a clear path of what I want to write about, I’ll start to journal about it (or make a mood board, ha) as a sort of reference or brainstorm. Most of the time, I have a half-idea of where I want to go with a poem when I start writing, and then I see where it takes me as time goes on. I’ll also talk out loud to see how different words sound, where natural pauses take place, and how breath plays out on the page. However, sometimes my writing practice isn’t even a writing practice as much as I try to implement routines in my life. There are times when I’ll just be in the mood to write, or something comes to me in the middle of nowhere, and I almost like those moments more than when I force myself to write.
What are your favorite procrastinations?
Oh, I think sometimes I trick myself into believing that work is consuming too much of my time to give space for writing. One of my faults is that I really desire other people’s validation when it comes to professional and academic success. I find it hard to give moments to myself without feeling guilty for a lack of academic / work productivity. If I’m procrastinating from writing and not doing some sort of work-related thing it’s usually through watching movies, reading, or going out with friends.
We live in interesting times, which book/author keeps you sane/grounded?
Joy Harjo has a poem that my undergraduate advisor used to start every semester with called Eagle Poem (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46545/eagle-poem). I deeply cherish it.
What is your new skill learned during the shutdowns of the Pandemic
I tried to pick up skateboarding again. I say again because I had an epic crush in 8th grade on this boy who was a skater (a theme that has unfortunately not gone away folks), and I asked him to teach me. Anyways, if anyone wants to join NYC Skate Project @nycskateproject with me…
What is your dream writing space?
I want Georgia O'Keeffe’s workspace:
Lisette Boer Lisette Boer is a Poetry MFA candidate pursuing a graduate minor in Impact Entrepreneurship at The New School. She received her BA in English – Creative Writing and a minor in Communication from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. When she’s not writing Lisette is the social media manager for Milk Press Books, The Poetry Society of New York, The Poetry Brothel, Pen Parentis, and Statorec. She also serves as a poetry editor at Statorec and Milk Press Books. Currently, she is the Events Specialist Assistant for The New School's Creative Writing Program. Reach out to her at www.lisetteboer.com