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Toni Nealie

“Walking in the woods helps free my mind. The loamy smell, muted light, envelope of green, and muffled sound help make a space for ideas to germinate. I used to feel guilty about not writing daily, until I realized that I pre-write while walking, and according to current neuroscience, the body drives the mind as well as the other way around. I then aim for a meditative state to write. I like quiet and solitude at my desk, whereas in the rest of my life I adore people and bustle and interaction. To break from the narrative and reportage of my working life, I read poetry or prose, often in translation. It helps induce a dreamy state of being, that allows me to distance myself from everyday life and frees my ideas, experiences, and craft to sift onto the page. Simone Weil, Elizabeth Bishop, Franz Kafka, Fernando Pessoa helped me when I wrote The Miles Between Me, along with A Book of Nonsense, a collection of poems I've had since I was a child. Looking is important—at art, at nature, at life around me. Several of the essays in my book were spurred by creating short film essays—a practice that loosened something in my perspective.”
—Toni Nealie, author of The Miles Between Me (Curbside Splendor, 2016)