Kelly Egan: on Staying Hydrated and Actually Doing This Thing

Kelly Egan: on Staying Hydrated and Actually Doing This Thing

An interview with Kelly Egan, from The Write Stuff series over at SF Weekly:

Kelly Jean Egan lives in San Francisco and is currently pursuing her MFA in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga. She also studies Spanish, generally obsesses about language, and likes to visit small towns. Her poetry has appeared inParadigm Journal, Eunoia Review, and In Stereo Press, and is forthcoming in Poiesis Review. You can find her

When people ask what do you do, you tell them…?

I say, “I’m a writer,” and when they ask what I write, I say “poetry.” Only rarely do I say, “I’m a poet,” and when I do it feels very strange, as though I get a sense of how under-spoken that phrase is in the world.

What’s your biggest struggle — work or otherwise?

Staying hydrated.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Read. Write. And throw yourself into the community — go to readings, take a class. Basically, confirm to yourself that it’s real, that there are plenty of people out there who are actually doing this thing and that it can become your reality too.

Do you consider yourself successful? Why?

I do. It’s mainly for subtle, personal reasons, though for me these are the things most at stake. Basically, I feel successful in that I am able to relate to other writers and people in their process and experience. When I speak, or write, from the depths of my own experience — which I often worry is far stranger than everyone else’s — and get grateful nods of recognition, or the proverbial ‘mmm,’ that spells success for me.

When you’re sad/grumpy/pissed off, what YouTube video makes you feel better?

I like the one of the snoring dormouse. Such a small form of life, such deep slumber.

Do you have a favorite ancestor? What is his/her story?

I tend to consider lineage in more ethereal terms than blood, so I don’t think much about ancestry. This must have something to do with the black sheep mentality… That said, I was recently informed that one of my ancestors is very invested in my life, sort of like a fairy godmother. This makes me wonder about who she may have been. I’d like to know her story, but rather than go searching through the records, I look forward to its being revealed in a dream.

Who did you admire when you were 10 years old? What did you want to be?

Nancy Drew… and, Nancy Drew.

Describe your week in the wilderness. It doesn’t have to be ideal.

I’d just like to get further and further into it, without always boomeranging back to home base. So, backpacking. California or the Pacific Northwest. With a small group. If one of them knows massage, great. If we stumble upon hot springs at some point along the way, wonderful.

Would you ever perform a striptease? Describe some of your moves. Feel free to set the mood.

Anything is possible when I put on my purple wig. But dancing is a release from language, so sorry, can’t describe the moves.

How much money do you have in your checking account?

Let’s just say under $1000. Considerably so.

What’s wrong with society today?


Are you using any medications? If so, which ones?

Yoga, vegetables, music…

What is your fondest memory?

Seeing the Amazon for the very first time outside the window of the plane. The quintessential brown snaking rivers, the endless green, the sudden, bizarre reality of it, feeling almost and oddly like a deja vu.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a poem about driving through Sonoma while hungover and listening to techno music. But of course, it’s not really about that.

What kind of work would you like to do? Or: what kind of writing do you most admire?

I bow down to Virginia Woolf, and I love prose that meanders, rhapsodizes, gets into the cracks of person, place, or time, without much plot at all. So I guess I look forward to doing some sort of work based on sentences.

If there were one thing about the Bay Area that you would change, what would it be?

The fact that, in San Francisco, when I see a family of four coming out of a little old Victorian, I know, without a doubt, that they are millionaires.

A night on the town: what does that mean to you?

A restaurant or bar in an unfamiliar neighborhood. Dancing. A nightwalk or some form of trespassing. Trumping all else: spontaneity.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?

Severed horse leg tossed in a trash can, 5am, Hyde Park, London. No explanation and strangely, no blood.

What are some of your favorite smells?

humus, leather, tea tree oil, and somewhere… burning leaves

If you got an all expenses paid life experience of your choice, what would it be?

Flying a small plane, low, over the whole of Africa. With my dad 🙂

Here to read all The Write Stuff profiles; here to watch all the videos.