5 Burning Questions With Donald Illich

Donald Illich is one of our featured writers at our March 10th reading. Check out our interview with him below.

What is your first memory of writing for fun?

I was about seven, and I recall writing a story about exploring under the Earth, meeting monsters and other creatures.  I don’t remember for sure if I drew pictures to go along with the story.  Where I found the idea for it, I don’t know, unless maybe comic books or a show on TV.  But I do believe it was around the time when I first became interested in books and libraries.

How many drafts = done?

It varies.  A lot of poems are finished after one or two revisions, sometimes only cosmetic changes.  I write a lot, and I always hope lightning strikes that way.  Some poems, though, require me to workshop them or find help from a good editor, along with further revisions on my side.  I’m don’t think there is any hard or fast rule.

What is your favorite book or favorite book-of-the-moment?

My favorite book-of-the-moment is Wallace Stevens’ “Collected Poems.”  I can open it to any page and find something interesting and often bizarre.  It feeds my writing, even if I don’t have any idea what Stevens is talking about.  Sometimes that’s the same with Ashbery, though less often.

What is it about your discipline that gets you the most excited?

I like fooling around with words.  When I get a phrase or line that sounds right/musical, that’s a big joy, especially when it results in a twist ending or ending that clicks just right.

What’s your favorite word or words? What about it/them appeals to you?

I think I use the word “want” a lot in my poems, along with “sky.”  “Want” appeals because I like “desire,” which keeps every human life going.  “Sky” is omnipresent in our lives and is where the moon is located.  Why wouldn’t any poet not be interested?

Bonus question: who inspires you the most, living or dead, real or fictional?

Rilke inspires me.  It’s impossible to reach his standard, but I guess I can use him as my patron saint of poetry.  Probably that is true of a lot of people.


Donald Illich has published a poetry collection, “Chance Bodies,” and a chapbook, “The Art of Dissolving.”  His work has appeared in “The Iowa Review,” “Fourteen Hills,” “Poet Lore,” “Map Literary,” and “Nimrod,” along with several other journals.  He lives in Rockville, Maryland, where he works as a technical writer for the government.

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