with H.E. Fisher
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
H.E.: I’ve been telling stories since I can remember, and writing more formally since around the age of twelve. First influences were children’s authors like Dr. Seuss and E.B. White. Then, later, Emily Dickinson, Poe, Lousie Erdrich, and Toni Morrison.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
H.E.: So many! In no particular order: Tyehimba Jess, Jericho Brown, Claudia Rankine, Li-Young Lee, Fred Marchant, Czeslaw Milosz, Ada Limón, Ross Gay, Diane Seuss, Natalie Diaz, Chen Chen, Jennifer Franklin, JP Howard, and Michelle Valladares. I am sure I am forgetting a few!
Q3: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
H.E.: No one moment. I don’t think there was ever a time when I didn’t want to tell stories or write, in whatever form. But there was a huge moment in 2016 when I decided to front-burner my creative writing. That’s when I decided to pursue an MFA, which changed everything.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
H.E.: Just thinking about this makes me well up! I’ve been super lucky to have had some wonderful teachers. In undergrad, my mentor was Bell Chevigny. More recently, Michelle Vallardes, David Groff, Emily Raboteau, JP Howard, and Jennifer Franklin. I am lucky, too, to be in a wonderful and robust community of writers at the Hudson Valley Writers Center and in the MFA program at City College of New York.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
H.E.: I grew up in Long Beach, a beach town that is an island off of Long Island. The ocean finds its way into my work all the time. It is one of the drivers behind my interest in eco-poetry. One of the first pieces I wrote in my MFA program was a lyrical essay called “Ocean: An Autobiography,” which was published in Hopper Magazine. The ocean seeps in everywhere.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
H.E.: I’ve recently completed two longer projects: a chapbook called SALLY, DICK, AND JANE: A PRE-PRIMER, which focuses on a child’s introduction to rules—the ones we are made to follow by parents, teachers, and governments; and a full-length collection called STERILE FIELD, which addresses the intersection of the climate crisis, health and caregiving, consent, and obligation. Both projects have meant a lot to me and I’ve learned a lot from both.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
H.E.: Ohhhh. Binge watching is a big yes, especially detective shows. There’s also a lot going on on my deck right now. I’m growing herbs, medicinals, and wildflowers. I love to read, mostly poetry, detective novels, and memoirs.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
H.E.: Really, the whole poem, but the opening lines from Li-Young Lee’s poem “One Heart”:
“Look at the birds. Even flying
out of nothing.”
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
H.E.: This has been a productive time and there have been several pieces that have come out recently, and several that are forthcoming. Anyone interested can visit my site to explore the work: https://www.hefisher.com/