Interview with Joe Wilkins

1.   What are 5 things you would want to find?

 This summer, hiking along the Metolius River in central Oregon, my daughter and I found a meadow full of tiger lilies and lupine, so that’s first on my list—that morning meadow. Second, there’s nothing like exploring a new river, or new bends in rivers I’ve long known. Third, I like to go through old notebooks and excavate a line or two from years ago that might have promise. Fourth, rereading dog-eared pages in long-loved books is always a delight. Finally, each evening, I love to find myself going to bed beside my wife.

 2.   What are 5 things you would want to hide?

 I hide notes beneath my children’s pillows. I hide as best I can in the river shadows as I fly-fish. I hide beneath full-canopied cedar trees in the rain. I hide sometimes how much things hurt or scare me. I would hide, if I could, the misconceptions and assumptions and fears that divide us.  

3.   If you could choose anywhere in the world for your book to be hidden, where would it be?

Oh, finding a book anywhere is a joy! But there’s nothing like discovering a book you’ll come to dearly love and need on the dusty shelves of a public library.

 4.   If you could find any book, which would it be and why?

 I found, in a thick anthology my senior year in college, the poems of the Ohio poet James Wright. I remember that finding, and the permission those poems gave me—permission to write about my own upbringing, about poverty and struggle, about ordinary lives and rural landscapes—every day.

5.   Who would you want to find your book (another author, celebrity, et cetera)?

Let’s have it be a young person from some small town in the interior, a young woman or young man who wants to understand the community and violence they were born to—and know, too, that their world is part and parcel of the wider world, that where they are matters as much as anywhere.  

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 Visit Bedtime Stories to listen to Joe Wilkins read an excerpt from Fall Back Down When I Die