Sunday, March 20, 2011

Author Insides - Amy Schreibman Walter

Amy Schreibman Walter was born in 1976 in sultry South Florida, to parents from the edge of Brooklyn. She currently lives in London, England, where she enjoys teaching 8-year-olds how to write good poetry, among other things. Presently studying at the Faber Poetry Academy in London, Amy teaches by day and writes by night.

Amy's poem "December 25, Chinatown," appeared in the Winter 2010 issue of The Battered Suitcase

Amy, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing on napkins since before I could spell. I remember being at family dinners in restaurants at the age of 5, taking a napkin and a pen and creating an ‘office’ under the table, surrounded by the feet of grown-ups. I wish I’d kept more of my younger writing, as I wonder now what was really on those napkins.

Why do you write?

I write because I have to. It’s not always the most fun process, but when something does work, it’s satisfying.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

I always had a sense that writing would never be a full time gig for me; that somehow I wouldn’t be able to survive from writing stories and poems. I never imagined how incredibly hard it is to write well.

What do you think makes a good story?

That varies wildly, but anything in life is writable.

What's your favorite genre to read?

Is it a cliché if I say poetry? Sometimes I need to break out of reading poetry though, it becomes a bit telescopic for me and I need to read something else.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

I have a penchant for Plath. Also, I think Nick Cave’s lyrics are unbelievable. My poetess friend Laura Maher is pretty wonderful, too.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

The sources of my inspiration change all the time. I think I’m most influenced by being immersed in contemporary poetry, both that of published poets and that of my friends and peers in my poetry classes.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Can I say that places and people have influenced me more than books?

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

I get ideas from memories. My poems are often like polaroids –a snapshot of a moment in time. I’ve been told that my poetry has a lot of concrete imagery and colors within it. I like to recreate a scene in my writing. The themes in my writing right now seem to be: my Florida childhood, New York City and my relationships.

What does your family think of your writing?

There’s a strong tradition of poetry in my family. My mom is a poet, and she’s a great editor. My grandfather, too: he suggests a change and it’s the perfect alteration, changing the shape of a poem in just the way it needed to be changed. I think my family is glad I’ve picked up the poetry baton. I guess it was just a matter of time.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I write mostly at night, because I have a full time job. I go through periods where I write all evening, where it’s what I need to do when I get home. Other times, it’s more of an effort after a full workday, and I write better on weekends. Friday night, late, seems to be an optimal time for my creativity, for some reason. Perhaps I write my best poems on Friday at midnight.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

Perhaps it is quirky that I write less with a pen and more and more straight on the laptop these days, I don’t know. Maybe I need to bring the napkins back, though they do surface sometimes.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Getting the ideas is easy, but making the writing good is always challenging.

What are your current projects?

I’m writing towards a first pamphlet of poems at the moment. I want to put the pamphlet out into the world by September 2011.

What are you planning for future projects?

I’m studying at the Faber and Faber Poetry Institute in London right now, which is helping to keep me on track for writing many new poems. I want to publish a first book of poems within the next two years.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

It’s so hard to write well, but I think you just have to throw yourself into it and persist in the work of it, just keep going.

Where else can we find your work?

I’m working on a website to share the links from my online and in print poems – watch this space.


  1. Great interview. I like her advice to other writers and to just keep going.

  2. Thanks to Fawn Neun for giving me the chance to get these words out there in the world!