Emily Simon on Language Games, Perspective, and Inheriting a Tradition of Complaining

Emily Simon on Language Games, Perspective, and Inheriting a Tradition of Complaining

I met Emily several years ago at Columbia University, where I was teaching and she was studying in the MFA program. She was one of my students in a seminar on process, where students dramatically experimented with the methods, times, and circumstances of their writing, . Many students can have difficulty working outside of their comfort zone, but Emily seemed to relish every challenge, submitting a range of gorgeous curiosities, all of which hummed with her distinctive, vibrant voice. This was her first semester and I remember how she filled the classroom with her exuberance. You could feel this energy in her poems, and in the way she interacted with the other students. She engaged every topic, every reading with heightened criticality. In class, she prodded at wandering lines of conversational thought (including my own) and provoking when she deemed it necessary. At one point, she almost didn't return to class, after feeling her own intensity had become too fiery for the room. Emily and I have stayed in touch over the years since she left Columbia and began to teach her own classes. in this time, she has continued to pack her unbridled energy into compressed nuggets of text, such as those in her first book, In Many Ways , a work of art as fragmented and wonderful as the fussy human personality. –Ross Simonini * Ross Simonini: Do you still write poems on your phone? Emily Simon : I do. I'm writing on my phone now. I'm a very fast texter, and maybe I like to imagine I'm texting myself when I'm writing. If it were a more formal exercise, if I were sitting upright at a desk, for example, I'd feel something like stage fright, performance anxiety. I'd be much more precious my work. So I've found a chattier way onto the “page” through my phone. My teaching job reminds me often of the value of speech-to-text. For me, it's proved most useful in the middle of the night, when I roll over in bed and hit the voice record icon in my Notes […]

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