Paul Guest, author of four collections of poetry, most recently Because Everything Is Terrible, and a memoir, One More Theory About Happiness. Mr. Guest’s writing has appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, The Paris Review, Tin House, Slate, New England Review, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Western Humanities Review, Ploughshares, and more. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and Whiting Award winner.
I often think of the novelist William Faulkner’s response to being asked where he got his ideas: that there was enough story in dirt the size of a postage stamp for a hundred books. When I feel like I have nothing to say, I think about this. When I tell my students that their stories are worth telling, that their lives are inherently interesting and worthwhile, I remember this. I’m here to help you tell that story: to find it, to shape it, to finish it. So much of writing is waiting, is listening for what is yours in the work of others, whether your peers or published authors that we’ll read together. My job is guiding you in the direction that you want to go. My goal is helping you write what is true.