To Wit: Flash Interviews–Christine Cusick

Senior Editor Christine Cusick lives in the foothills of the Laurel Highland mountains of western Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the intersections of ecology, story, and memory. She has published numerous ecocritical studies of contemporary literature and has been nationally recognized for creative nonfiction. Her most recent book is a coedited essay collection, Unfolding Irish Landscapes: Tim Robinson, Culture and Environment. She is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Honors Program at Seton Hill University.

1. What writer do you want to be when you grow up?

Anne Lamott. She’s unafraid to write the hard stuff and, as much as I can tell, authentic to the bone.

2. What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

The first work I published. It was a critical essay about a poet I adore–“‘Our language was tidal’:  Poetics of Place in the Poetry of Moya Cannon,” published in New Hibernia Review/Iris Éireannach Nua. I knew so little but cared so deeply, and I admire the terrified human that mustered the gumption to quiet the voices and to put words into the world. I sometimes still ask her how she did it.

3. Who do you trust with your drafts and why?

It depends on the stage of my writing. I try to trust any reader who is inclined to be curious and honest.

4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

Write what you aren’t yet ready to speak. That is where the real stuff lives.

5. What’s your go to recommendation to read when somebody says “I’m not sure about this whole nonfiction thing?” Why? What do you hope it shows them? What about it excites you?

At this moment, it is Emily Pine’s Notes to Self.  The writing is raw and intimate, striking a graceful balance between the measure of pain and persistence of joy that can plausibly exist on one page. I hope that it shows them that we are all mosaics of stories swirling around one another, and that when we let go of ourselves enough to pull the stories out from cover, as Pine did, that we might help others to feel less alone. Any time writing achieves this, it enlivens me.

Keep Reading

Christine Cusick, “Reflections on Teaching,” January 29, 2018

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