Emily Polson holds a BFA in creative writing from Belhaven University and has published poems in Wine Cellar Press and the Brogue. Originally from Iowa, she now lives in Brooklyn. Her poem, “Intro to Metaphor,” about a creative writing workshop she taught for incarcerated women in central Mississippi can be found in Epoch Issue 01: Beginnings, available for purchase here.
Where do you find inspiration?
For poetry specifically, most of my inspiration comes from vivid sensory memories I want to recreate on the page. Something about an experience will stick out – maybe a piece of dialogue, a unique setting, a sensation – particularly when it is linked to a moment of transition or realization. When I sit down to write, I aim to recreate the emotional and sensory experience of that memory, inviting readers into the moment while also creating a little time capsule for myself. I also mine my notebook for inspiration; I have a journaling habit akin to the one Joan Didion describes in the great essay “On Keeping a Notebook,” and every once in a while I find gems in mine worth expanding or exploring further.
Why do you write/create Creative Non-Fiction?
For me, writing creative nonfiction is an extension of thinking, a way of noticing or constructing meaning from the events of my life and the world around me. I’m an introspective person prone to rumination, so when I’m going through new experiences or difficult periods, my brain often gets stuck on certain emotions or unresolved thoughts. I think about them constantly, to the point that I begin examining my ongoing actions and intentions through the lens of the big questions floating around in my mind.
I start to record these moments, looking for the narrative threads. Putting them down on paper and wrestling them into a cohesive piece of writing helps me understand the connection between seemingly disparate pieces of my life or bridge the transition from one stage of being to the next.
Writing creative nonfiction then becomes a way of processing complex experiences, and – ultimately – finding a place of mental rest in order to break the cycle of spiraling thoughts. I will also do this in retrospect, in an attempt to understand how past experiences have shaped me. If I can look back and see a completed story arc from a time in my life, I can recognize what I’ve learned from it, name what it meant to me, and move on.
What are you reading now? (If you aren’t reading anything, let us know what other art you’re consuming):
For the past few weeks I’ve been dipping in and out of Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger Here Myself, which is a collection of humorous columns he wrote about coming home to America after living in Britain for twenty years. I’m also rereading Marilynne Robinson’s breathtaking novel Gilead and just started Franny Choi’s poetry collection Soft Science.
Where can we follow you and find your work?