The Muse

(An International Journal of Poetry)

ISSN 2249 –2178


Volume-3                                                      DECEMBER -2013                                           Number-2


An E-Interview with Katharyn Howd Machan

Interviewed by Dr. Pradeep Chaswal

(Katharyn Howd Machan, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College, holds degrees from the College of Saint Rose, the University of Iowa, and Northwestern University. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines; in anthologies/textbooks such as The Bedford Introduction to Literature, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013, Poetry: An Introduction, Early Ripening: American Women’s Poetry Now, Sound and Sense, Writing Poems, Literature: Reading and Writing the Human Experience, etc.); and in 30 collections, most recently When She’s Asked to Think of Colors (Palettes & Quills Press, 2009). In 2012 she edited Adrienne Rich: A Tribute Anthology for Split Oak Press.)


Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: How poetry got birth in you? Please tell us about the first few poems you composed?

Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: VERY young--seven or eight--I created a small crayon-illustrated collection of my rhyming poems...but poetry became my core when I was 15, in 1967, under the tutelage of the late Harriet Koshar, excellent teacher in Pleasantville, New York, USA.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: Apart from being a poet you are also a writer and Professor teaching literature and creative writing. What are your views on the role of poetry in curriculum?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: Fortunately, Ithaca College, where I have taught writing (no literature courses, per se) since 1977, has developed a strong Department of Writing with sophisticated major and minor programs of study. Poetry is an essential part of our curriculum.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: Are you currently working on any new project or book of poetry?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: My current major work-in-progress is FOX, begun in January of 2011. The title character is a kitsune shape-shifter, often zenko (a good fox, known to be poetic and philosophical, and a loving spouse and parent) but also sometimes a trickster, though unlike many of her kind she holds back from luring others to their death. She may be full fox, full human, or a mixture: always her choice. At this point I have written more than 150 Fox poems.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: What are your views on contemporary experimental poetry?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: I believe artists should reach in all directions possible. Readers will respond to literature that moves them.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: What is the social relevance of poetry in the contemporary milieu of globalization and technology?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: I believe it was Herbert Gold who said years ago that when there's a war we need soldiers and when those soldiers are damaged we need doctors and when the rest of the world needs to survive the existence of those wars and damaged soldiers we need poets. This need surpasses wars, to all shadows that try to block the light of life.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: Would you like to share with the readers some important incident or experience in your life?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: Falling in love with my husband Eric, musician and fellow poet, in 1990 shaped my life powerfully. He immediately bonded with my daughter CoraRose, and he and I created another child, Benjamin, born in 1992.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: How you look at the relation between myth and poetry?


Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: Poetry enable imagination better to reach into myth and fairy tale, to read the maps of our psyches.

Dr. Pradeep Chaswal: What message you wish to give our readers and poetry lovers?

Prof. Katharyn Howd Machan: Find the poems you need, and open up that need so you will continue to embrace ever more widely the art created for you by others.