Why do I write and read poetry?

Poetry is meat and meet. Sustenance and connection. Poetry has the power to illuminate the human condition. To bond crafted words and considered ideas, and, most importantly perhaps, create relationships between people. This is my pain, this is my beauty – I share it with you, and I connect with you through your pain, your beauty. Poetry is wings. It takes us from one place to another. It takes us to places we might not normally go. Poetry helps us feel less alone.

Welcome to a place where you can read good poetry, find new book recommendations, and learn more about how to write your pain, write your beauty.

Most musings?will fall into the following three categories:

  • Treasures – poems, usually from whatever poetry collection I’m currently reading, or perhaps just some wonder that I’ve stumbled over and want to share.
  • Bindings – fuel for writing or reading poetry, short explorations of a poetic technique, or commentary on a poetics book, or a link to some information that will enrich the writing and reading of poetry.
  • The Journey – musings on the writing life, including how writing good poetry might be a lot like living a good life. (Your definition of “good” as welcome as my own.)

Me, here

Erin Coughlin Hollowell

I’m a poet and writer who lives at the end of the road in Alaska. Prior to landing in Alaska, I lived on both coasts, in big cities and small towns, pursuing many different professions from tapestry weaving to arts administration.

I earned my MFA from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University in 2009.  I received the Rona Jaffe Scholarship in poetry for the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference in 2010.

In 2013, I was awarded a Rasmuson Foundation Fellowship by the Rasmuson Foundation and a Connie Boochever Award by the Alaska State Council on the Arts. I was one of the inaugural recipients of the Alaska Literary Awards in 2014. I was awarded residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Willapa Bay Artist in Residency Program in 2014. In 2017, I was awarded a second Rasmuson Fellowship to work on my third book.

Currently, I am the executive director of the Storyknife Writers Retreat, a residency for women writers being developed outside of Homer, Alaska. I’m on the faculty of the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference and the University of Alaska Low-Residency MFA Program. My work has most recently been published in Talking Rivers, Rust + Moth, Alaska Quarterly Review, Weber Studies, Terrain: A Journal of the Built and Natural Environment, Sugar House Review, and Prairie Schooner. 

Pause, Traveler, my first book-length collection, was released in 2013 by Boreal Books, an imprint of Red Hen Press, and my second book-length collection, Every Atom, was released by the same press in April 2018. Dancing Girl Press published my chapbook Boundaries in January 2018. (You can learn more about my books and ways to purchase them at my author website.)

This site is meant to be a reflection of the myriad ways writing poetry influences the way a person lives his or her life, as well as compendium of book reviews and interesting ideas culled from the web.

To submit ideas, comments, or offer poetry books for review, please email.

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Your Yawp

Be untamed. Be untranslatable.

Celebrate yourself and sing yourself. And while you’re at it, celebrate and sing someone else as well. But don’t forget yourself.

Focus on the things that make you feel most alive and most in love with your life.

Loaf and invite your soul to observe a blade of grass. Pay attention.

Make your art from everything.

Make it from a rain-riddled walk on the beach and from waiting in line at the supermarket. From cookies and compost. From strawberry and salt, from the wine and the vinegar.

Make your art from your childhood (those first lines on your map), your disastrous first love (that sea monster by the left margin), and your heart (the compass rose).

Make art from the sadness that roosts in flocks all around you and the hope for healing that rings a very small bell made of stars.

Make art from everything, and be comforted to know that all you encounter will someday flower in your life which is, of course, the highest form of art after all.

Lift your voice. Live your poem.

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Mind the gap

Writing, like any complex skill, is an accretion of layers of experience and learning. Writing well is an mixture of a lifetime of reading deeply and widely; years of study, including apprenticing yourself to other writers; and practice, focused practice incorporating what you’ve read, learned, and experienced. Most of all, good writing is based on …