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Paul Lisicky

Read a Q & A Session with Paul Lisicky


EP: What kinds of things inspire your writing?
PL: Other writing, of course. Music. Certain films, visual art. The truth is, I don’t do well when I’m not making something.  That would be my version of hell, actually: a world without making.

What is your writing environment like?
Once I lived in a house with a study and a desk, and I used to work only at that desk. But things changed once I moved to the city, where there wasn’t any room for a study. In the last ten years I’ve written just about everywhere, from coffee places to planes to the train to the subway to the beach. I seem to do my best work when I’m not trying.

Tell us about a poem, story you’ve written that has special meaning to you?
That’s a hard one.  Every time I write something, it has some kind of necessity about it–at that time. I’m trying to figure something out. Then I finish the piece, and I realize there’s so much more that needs to be said, and I go on to the next one.

Who are some of the authors you like to read?
Flannery O’Connor, Joy Williams, Don DeLillo, Mary Gaitskill, Elizabeth McCracken, Denis Johnson, Jane Bowles, Anne Carson, Lydia Davis, and that’s only a start.

What things do you like to do to get away from pen and paper?
Going to the ocean. Music: always my first love. Spending time with my dog.  Animals: I wish I could hang out with animals more. Exploring neighborhoods.  Even better if they’re close by–and under-appreciated.

What do you hope readers find in your writing?
I hope they find something musical in it, not just in its phrasing, but in its DNA.  I want there to be some essence beyond the spoken, the literal, however you want to describe it.  I want it to have a secret life.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?
Find something you love and tell other people about it. Pass it around.


Paul Lisicky, the author of Etruscan’s The Burning House (2011), is the author of Lawnboy (Turtle Point Press, 1999) and Famous Builder (Graywolf Press, 2002). His work has appeared in The Iowa Review, StoryQuarterly, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Hotel Amerika, Prairie Schooner, and has been widely anthologized.  His awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the James Michener/Copernicus Society, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.  He has taught in the graduate writing programs at Cornell University, Rutgers-Newark, Sarah Lawrence College, and Antioch University Los Angeles.  He currently teaches at NYU.  He lives in New York City and Springs, New York.

Interact with Paul!

Watch a YouTube video of Paul reading at Cornell University.

Listen to a podcast of a Cornell University interview of Paul.

Visit his website.

Read an interview by Bindu Wiles.

Check out his blog.

Read an interview from The East Hampton Star.

Follow him on Twitter.

Read an interview in the Used Furniture Review from Nov. 26, 2010.

Here’s a feature by Joanne Pilgrim on Paul Lisicky.

Lambda Literary features Paul Lisicky