Mia Ayumi Malhotra Recommends...

“As the mother of young children, the hours I spend working on poems are unaccountably precious. My husband and I exert huge amounts of energy to craft a family life that leaves space for my work, and after all that effort, I have no choice but to sit down and write. First I brew a cup of tea, and then I light a candle, a simple ritual of return that brings me back to my work. I’m a very methodical writer, so I believe wholeheartedly in the process of writing: ideas first, revision later, preferably in small, easily digested steps. Of course, there are days when I don’t have a single idea, and that’s when I pick up the latest issue of POETRY magazine or whatever else feels linguistically urgent: right now it’s Layli Long Soldier’s Whereas (Graywolf Press, 2017) and Jennifer S. Cheng’s Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2018). I might copy lines directly into my notebook, or else I write an imitation, mimicking the syntax and rhetorical shifts of a particularly arresting poem. In this, as in life, I hold to the belief that certain things—poems, faith, marriage, the writing life—only exist insofar as one lives them. By committing first to the architecture of a life, even that of a poem, one begins to live its contours and then, in time, its interior richness.”
—Mia Ayumi Malhotra, author of Isako Isako (Alice James Books, 2018)