By Diana Khoi Nguyen | Contributing Writer
Dorothea Lasky was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She earned a BA at Washington University and an MFA at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has published four collections of poetry, ROME (Liveright, W.W. Norton, 2014), as well as AWE (2007), and Black Life (2010), and Thunderbird (2012) and several chapbooks, including the polemical Poetry Is Not a Project (2010). Her poems have appeared in a number of prominent publications, including the New Yorker, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review. Lasky was awarded a Bagley Wright Fellowship in 2013, and she is an assistant professor of poetry at Columbia University.
I’ve read that poetry found you when you were seven. How did this happen? What were your earliest poems like?
It did! I started writing poems late at night around this age because I couldn’t sleep. Poems were the things I could write by the light of my nightlight because they didn’t need to follow any grammatical rules. The voice I wrote poems into found me before any other writing voice, but then for a while I started writing stories and then in the end, went back to writing poems.
My earliest poems were meant to be spoken. After writing a few poems late at night, I would go into my parents’ room and read the poems to my mother (my dad always went to bed early). She loved to stay up late and she was very supportive of my readings, often giving me lots of helpful feedback. She is a painter and art historian and was always 100% behind any kind of art-making I did, so she was an ideal first audience.
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