Interview with Elizabeth Schmuhl

What was your early life like? Where did you grow up?

During the week, when not at dance or school, I was out playing in the swamp behind my house. On weekends we drove to my family’s centennial fruit farm and I helped harvest fruit. I loved painting and drawing, and made my own illustrated books.

What made you want to write?

It’s something I feel I have to do; it has never felt like a choice.

What are your writing habits like? Are you always working on a story or poem?

Always. Even when I’m dancing or painting, I may also be working on a poem. Or, the dance or painting may be the poem. I see all making as very fluid.

Can you discuss your literary influences, or at least name some writers whose work you greatly admire?

Leanne Shapton, Can Xue, Kono Taeko, Bana Yoshimoto, Martha Graham, Erika L. Sánchez, Haruki Murakami, Tomas Morin, Alex Dimitrov, Keith Taylor, Laura Kasischke, Jamaal May, so many more too!

How important is community amongst fellow writers, do you get along with other writers?


If you haven’t already, do you think you will ever write a novel?

I think I will. But I am a bit more interested in the novella.

Do you feel a sense of home? Is there a place like that to you?

My fruit farm in Benton Harbor, MI and an apartment in the East Village to which I hope to always have a key.

Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions, before you start to write?

None assigned to writing.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?


Are you a science fiction fan? If so what attracts you to the genre?

I love Murakami’s Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which I consider Sci-Fi. But that’s it.

Do you think literature can help readers make sense of their lives?


How autobiographical are your stories/poems.

Depends on the piece.

Are you political? What do you think of the current political climate?

I believe everything is political. I am not surprised by the current political climate.

How do hope your stories/poems will affect people?

I hope my writing inspires others to create.

Elizabeth Schmuhl is a multidisciplinary artist. She is the author of Presto Agitato (Dancing Girl Press & Zoo Cake Press, 2015) and Premonitions (Wayne State University Press, forthcoming). She has taught writing at the University of Michigan, and currently illustrates essays for The Rumpus.