Visiting Professor Interview Series: Maggie Smith

March 1, 2016
Maggie Smith

The Department of English is pleased to introduce a new initiative: The Visiting Professor Interview Series (VPIS). The Series aims to grant students and faculty the opportunity to learn more about our visiting professors on a personal level, who would not otherwise get that opportunity. The interviews in this series will all be short. The brave first interviewee is poet Maggie Smith. Maggie is the author of several award-winning books and has received many fellowships. More details about her are available on her People Page or personal website. Without further ado, the interview:

What project(s) are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished my third book manuscript—the working title is Weep Up—and I’m now at work on new poems. I’m envisioning this new work as part of a fourth book, though it’s still coming into focus. In my experience, books are a bit ghostlike—shapeshifting, slipping just out of view—until a point deep in the process. I’m excited to see what this next one becomes.

What are you currently teaching?

I’m teaching two poetry courses this semester. One is English 7871, a graduate seminar in the forms of literature. We’re focusing on the structures of free verse, focusing primarily on line and syntax. The other course is English 4566, the advanced undergraduate poetry workshop.

What have you enjoyed most so far about the university?

The people, hands down. The MFA students are incredibly talented and smart, and they’re generous with one another. The undergraduates have impressed me with their dedication to the craft and their willingness to take risks. My colleagues in the department have welcomed me with open arms. It’s been a pleasure being in Denney Hall this semester—and it’s been particularly special to be back at my MFA alma mater.

What’s something interesting about you that we would not know otherwise?

I am a huge fan of doomsday and disaster films, from On the Beach to Dr. Strangelove to 28 Days Later. I have a chapbook of poems, Disasterology, due out this year, and many of the poems in the collection were inspired by doomsday films from the cold war to the present.