Lindsay Tigue has work published or forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Indiana Review, Passages North, CutBank, Moon City Review, Rattle, and LIT, among others. She was a 2013 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writer’s Conference and won the 2012 Indiana Review 1/2 K Prize. She attended the MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University and is currently a PhD candidate in English/Creative Writing at the University of Georgia in Athens.
Geosi Gyasi: What was your first piece of writing like?
Lindsay Tigue: I can’t remember my very first piece of writing. I remember my teacher lighting a candle when I was around nine or ten years old. She turned off the lights in our classroom and asked all of us—me and my fellow students–to describe what we saw. I remember the exercise, but I don’t remember what I wrote about it.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you ever struggle writing?
Lindsay Tigue: Yes, definitely. I am currently pursuing a PhD in creative writing at the University of Georgia. I struggle, like many people, with carving out a space to write. I sometimes have a tendency to prioritize my academic and teaching duties at the expense of my writing. I am still working on that balance of course.
I work best when I have large blocks of time to write. It takes me a little while to get my brain away from distraction and into a space conducive to writing.
Geosi Gyasi: You write both poetry and fiction. Is there any vast difference between the two?
Lindsay Tigue: For me, they are very different. With my fiction, revision feels much more like problem solving. I think I always start with writing toward discovery, but I probably become more pragmatic during revision with my fiction.
Geosi Gyasi: Your poetry manuscript, “System of Ghosts” was recently a finalist in the 2013 Philip Levine Prize and the 2014 Hollis Summers Poetry Book Prize. Could you tell us a bit about the book?
Lindsay Tigue: My poetry manuscript is a revised version of my thesis, which I completed during my MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. In it, I attempt to examine the ways built environments create loss.
Geosi Gyasi: Tell us about some of the interesting teachers you met while studying for your MFA at Iowa State University?
Lindsay Tigue: I had great professors: Steve Pett, Debra Marquart, K.L. Cook, Mary Swander, Ben Percy, Dean Bakopoulous, and Rick Bass. I also worked with a literature professor, Brianna Burke, and a professor of architecture, Kimberly Zarecor.
Geosi Gyasi: Do you admire your own work?
Lindsay Tigue: I’m proud of various things I’ve accomplished, but I think that’s different. I write the only way I can. I write what I might like to read.
Geosi Gyasi: What does it mean to be published?
Lindsay Tigue: That’s an interesting question. I don’t think I know the answer!
Geosi Gyasi: What’s your take on technology as a tool to read and write?
Lindsay Tigue: I do all of my writing on my laptop. I take image notes in a notebook, but I don’t write anything longhand. For me, cutting and pasting and quickly moving text around is a helpful part of the process. It seems to complement the way I think.
As far as reading, I still prefer actual books. I read articles and poems and essays online and I think online publishing can be a great tool for discovering writing I may not have heard of before.
Geosi Gyasi: Tell us about when and where you wrote “Convergent Boundaries”?
Lindsay Tigue: I wrote “Convergent Boundaries” while I was staying at my parents’ house in Michigan a couple of years ago. I was home for Christmas and my family was asleep. I remember this because I wrote it very quickly. It was a rare poem that came together in very few drafts.
Geosi Gyasi: Where did you get the inspiration to write “New Year”?
Lindsay Tigue: I traveled to Guatemala a couple of winters ago with a good friend. We were supposed to go on a hike, but I wasn’t feeling well. While she was gone, I wandered around Antigua alone and this poem was the result.
Geosi Gyasi: What’s the first thing you do when you sit down to write?
Lindsay Tigue: I read other poems or stories.
Geosi Gyasi: What makes a good writer?
Lindsay Tigue: I’m not sure. I appreciate writers who write surprisingly about emotional truths using vivid language. But that’s me! I don’t expect everyone has my taste.
Geosi Gyasi: How many times do you edit your own work?
Lindsay Tigue: It can vary a lot. I have stories I have been working on for years.
Geosi Gyasi: Is your poem, “Michigan Central Station Has Been Closed Since 1988” written from a personal experience?
Lindsay Tigue: Partly. Most of my poems draw at least a little from personal experience.
Geosi Gyasi: What do you wish readers take from your work?
Lindsay Tigue: I suppose that the poem or story was worth reading. Maybe even that I’ve expressed something true.