An Interview with Karen J. Weyant

Posted in: Books

Avoiding the Rapture by Karen J. Weyant is now available for pre-order. We interviewed Karen so you could get to know her a little better!

How long did it take you to write Avoiding the Rapture? What was your process for pulling it together?

As a collection, Avoiding the Rapture is fairly new. However, many of the poems are over 10 years old and have been previously published in literary journals. A few have been published in two of my chapbooks, Stealing Dust (Finishing Line Press) and Wearing Heals in the Rust Belt (Main Street Rag).

Those who are close to me know that I have struggled with organizing this collection for some time. I finally sat back and decided to arrange by poems in a sort of coming-of-age story of growing up in the rural Rust Belt of northern Pennsylvania. When I read through my work now, I can’t help but think, even though I grew up in the 1980s, that many of the themes still hold true. Some of my students remind me of myself. (Their clothes are better, of course!)

What’s a favorite poem from the collection? Why?

That’s a hard question… I’m sure that if you asked me this question on a different day I would have a different answer. But for today, I will pick “Flypaper” for the way it captures the tension in a family through graphic (and perhaps uncomfortable) images from nature.

What’s your writing routine look like?

I wish I had a specific writing routine! I am a full time English Professor at a community college, so my teaching keeps me very busy.  During the school year, I try to write about an hour every evening, but that doesn’t always happen.  I am much more productive during the summer when I write a few hours (with a cup of coffee or two in hand) when I first get up in the morning. Besides writing poetry, I write essays and reviews, so I’m always involved in some kind of writing project.

Karen’s computer and writing desk


Books / Inspiration


Who are your favorite poets?

I have too many favorite poets! (But I don’t think that is bad thing!) When I first started writing, I fell in love in love with the poetry of Jan Beatty, Jim Daniels and Patricia Dobler, mostly because they wrote about the working-class world – a world I knew well. I credit my undergraduate mentor, poet Judith Vollmer, for introducing me to contemporary poetry. And of course, I love her poetry too!

Now, I adore the poetry of Todd Davis, Justin Hamm, Allison Joseph, Julia Kasdorf, Marjorie Maddox, Michael Meyerhofer, and Aimee Nezhukumatahil. Of course, I am always  extending this list of favorites.

What are you reading right now?

I almost always have a poetry book in hand, but right now I am reading Donora Death Fog by Andy McPhee. McPhee’s book explores the 1948 killer fog/smog   that descended on Donora, Pennsylvania, killing 21 people and leaving countless of others with lingering health issues. I am trying to finish a book of essays about growing up in rural Pennsylvania and the intersections between working class challenges and environmental issues are a point of exploration in my work. While I lived a few hours north of Donora, the setting is so familiar to me.

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