Interlochen poet francine j. harris wins NEA fellowship, talks poetry as 'conversation'

Dec 23, 2014

Credit francine j. harris

Award-winning poet francine j. harris says her writing life began in high school, when she started a kind of conversation with her best friend.

Harris says one day her friend asked if she could read a poem she'd written – something she had never done before.

"And it was so weird because I didn't recognize her in it," Harris says.

But it made Harris want to write. She says she called her friend the next day and read her something that she wrote.

"We started doing this back and forth."

Listen to Harris read  "The Fat of the Fog Hovers Over," which she says she wrote about Traverse City.


Born in Detroit, Harris moved to Traverse City in 2013 and began teaching at the Interlochen Arts Academy this fall. She spoke with IPR's David Cassleman about her beginnings as a writer, her influences and what's next for her.

She remembers how it initially took her a while to have the confidence to ask journals to publish her work.

Harris's second collection, play dead, will be out from Alice James Books in 2016.

Read a poem below that will likely be included in the collection.

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"in" was originally published in McSweeney's Poets Picking Poets.