Amy MacLennan: Poet Interview - Writer's Digest

Amy MacLennan: Poet Interview

Publish date:

Please join me in welcoming poet Amy MacLennan to the Poetic Asides blog!

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan

Amy MacLennan’s first full-length collection The Body, A Tree was published earlier this year by MoonPath Press. Her work has been published in Cimarron Review, Cloudbank, Connotation Press, Folio, Hayden's Ferry Review, Linebreak, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pirene's Fountain, Poet's Market, Rattle, River Styx, South Dakota Review, Spillway, The Pedestal Magazine, Windfall, and Wisconsin Review.

Amy is the Editor of Cascadia Review and the Managing Editor of The Cortland Review. She has published two chapbooks: Weathering (Uttered Chaos Press, 2012), and The Fragile Day (Spire Press, 2011). Her work was recently featured on The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor.

Here's a poem I published in the 2015 Poet's Market:

Lusting, by Amy MacLennan

It starts with your walk
across the plaza, your orange fleece coat
a dull glow in the day gone dusk.
It ends with your arms around me,
your handprints almost marking my clothes,
staining my back.

It starts with the glass of wine
that turns into three, cabernet
that makes me thirst and thirst.
It ends with the taste in my mouth,
how I remember yours
bright with wine still on your tongue.

It starts with your eyes, the old cliche,
but your hands don't sparkle,
they crackle, they smoke, small bonfires.
It ends with an itch, thistleburr tingle
in my thighs, how I shift in my chair,
how my skirt inches up.

It starts with your face near mine,
your nose just grazing my cheek,
your breath an impossible touch.
It ends with our walk to the car,
the way we say nothing, the drive to your bed,
how I know, hours from now, sheets will settle on our skin.


Forget Revision, Learn How to Re-create Your Poems!


Do you find first drafts the easy part and revision kind of intimidating? If so, you’re not alone, and it’s common for writers to think the revision process is boring–but it doesn’t have to be!

In the 48-minute tutorial Re-Creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will learn how to go about re-creating their poems with the use of 7 revision filters that can help poets more effectively play with their poems after the first draft. Plus, it helps poets see how they make revision–gasp–fun!

Click to continue.


What are you currently up to?

My big day off finds me hiking these days. I joined a group that does a wide range of hikes in southern Oregon and northern California, and it has been amazing. We do anything from local excursions in the Ashland Watershed to the "big ups" on Mt. McLoughlin. It's a fun gathering of people who aren't afraid of getting messy.

The Body, A Tree is your first full-length collection. How did you go about getting it published?

I submitted a chapbook manuscript to Lana Hechtman Ayers several years ago, and I received the kindest, most generous rejection EVER. She gave me positive feedback along with specifics on what wasn't working in that collection. About a year later, she encouraged me to submit a full-length collection to MoonPath Press for consideration. I took all of her notes to heart, and I completely reorganized my work with new poems to "anchor" sections of that collection. She accepted it, and I was so grateful for her encouragement and guidance.

The Body, A Tree, by Amy MacLennan

The Body, A Tree, by Amy MacLennan

Any surprises about the book publication process?

I was wonderfully stunned at how much care was taken with The Body, A Tree. My publisher put so much time and effort into the cover, design, layout, order of poems, and most importantly, the title. It was the title that drove the cover image (huge thanks to Beverly Ash Gilbert for her gorgeous work), and Lana suggested it as it was the lead poem of the collection. With my chapbooks, I'm incredibly grateful for the same suggestions from those dedicated publishers, Uttered Chaos in Eugene, Oregon, and Spire Press in New York. I was blessed with terrific cover art and beautiful books.

What have you done to promote the book?

I've done and planned several readings and book fairs in Oregon, Washington, and California over the period of about a year. I've also had requests for reviews that should appear later this year. I'm excited and nervous (with a little bit of terror?) about them all at the same time.

You’ve previously published two chapbooks and have placed poems in several publications. Do you have a submission routine?

I used to send everywhere, but I'm more targeted these days. I'm a complete sucker for themed magazines and anthologies, and I'm always on the lookout for the best match for my work. Over the years, I've become more and more selective with the placement of my work.

You’re on the board of Chautauqua Poets & Writers in Ashland, OR. What’s involved with your role there?

I'm the one who posts on social media for the organization. I also assist with local marketing and promotion. It's a volunteer group that has brought the best national poets and prose writers to the Rogue Valley. I'm happy CPW puts up with me.

Who (or what) are you currently reading?

I'm reading and/or re-reading Bright Dead Things, by Ada Limon; Dementia, My Darling, by Brendan Constantine; Glass Factory, by Marilyn McCabe; Hum, by Jamaal May; Lost Sheep, by Kurt Brown; and Don't Kill the Birthday Girl, by Sandra Beasley.

If you could pass along only one piece of advice to other poets, what would it be?

Do. Not. Take. Rejections. Personally.


Robert Lee Brewer is the editor of Poet’s Market and author of Solving the World’s Problems. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


Check out these other poetic posts:

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: The 3 Prime Rules of Horror Writing, Contest Deadlines, and More!

Welcome to the first installment of a new series! There's always so much happening in the Writer's Digest universe that even staff members have trouble keeping up. So we're going to start collecting what's on the horizon to make it easier for everyone to know what's happening and when.


Lenora Bell: When Fairy Tales Meet Reality TV

Bestselling historical romance author Lenora Bell discusses researching, avoiding info-dumps while still charming readers, and how her latest book was inspired by her life.


Three Keys to Crafting Chemistry Between Characters

Romance author Michelle Major explains her three go-to tips for ensuring your characters have believable chemistry.

Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

Take Two: Saving Money on Your Screenwriting Career

No one wants to break the bank to learn how to write a screenplay. Jeanne Veillette Bowerman shares practical tips on saving money on the pursuit of a screenwriting career.


10 Epic Quotes From Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Here are 10 epic quotes from Watership Down, by Richard Adams. The story of a group of rabbits who escape an impending danger to find a new home, Watership Down is filled with moments of survival, faith, friendship, fear, and hope.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Quintilla Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the quintilla.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Fight or Flight

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's fighting time.


Vintage WD: 10 Rules for Suspense Fiction

John Grisham once admitted that this article from 1973 helped him write his thrillers. In it, author Brian Garfield shares his go-to advice for creating great suspense fiction.


The Chaotically Seductive Path to Persuasive Copy

In this article, author, writing coach, and copywriter David Pennington teaches you the simple secrets of excellent copywriting.