Katharyn Howd Machan


Katharyn Howd Machan is a professor of writing at Ithaca College. She’s published 32 collections and has had poems appear in textbooks, anthologies, and magazines, and in 2002, she was Tompkins County’s first poet laureate. She also has an alter ego as Zajal the belly dancer, and she likes to combine poetry with dance.

What made you want to publish in the anthology?

I have faith in the editors and the press!

What made you want to submit this piece in particular?

It is the strongest short story I have written. I am primarily a poet.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

Yes: the narrator. The depiction of place and family draws directly from a summer evening in my life.

On your faculty page, it says that your specialty is poetry. Are writing poetry and fiction different for you?

In my forty years of teaching I have learned to write the first drafts of poems in “stolen moments.” For fiction I need rarely obtained stretches of time.

When did you start writing? What were your first writings like?

Poetry has been my core since 1967. In high school and college and in both stints of my graduate work I also wrote fiction (no student papers=the requisite stretches of time). First writings? Even as a teen I drew upon fairy tales—and, of course, let’s not forget the now-dismissable hundreds and hundreds of poems about love.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I balance my life (literally) with belly dancing, which has been a big part of my life since 1979. Walking to enjoy nature is also very important. I used to take photos all the time until digital cameras eradicated my enjoyment in doing so. Enjoying home with my spouse Eric Howd Machan is core to my happiness.

How can readers learn more about you? Do you have any social media accounts?

The phrase “social media account” makes me gag forlornly. I don’t even have a web page beyond the one created by the Department of Writing at Ithaca College. Egad: phone? (607-274-3325). Or letter? (P.O. Box 456, Ithaca, NY  14851-0456). Or the ubiquitous and overwhelming email: machan@ithaca.edu.

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