Meet the Editor: Jill Talbot 

Interview conducted by American Literary Review Editors

Jill Talbot is the Essays editor at American Literary Review. She is the author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir and editor of Metawritings: Toward a Theory of Nonfiction.  Jill Talbot will be signing books at AWP at the ALR table (T1353) on Friday from 12-1pm. We asked Jill a few questions about her views on craft, her work, and her editorial philosophy.

ALR: What was the last book you read, in any genre, that taught you something new about your craft?

Jill Talbot: I admire books that engage me syntactically. The books that teach me the most have the most of my underlines in them. Either due to a writer’s mind or to sentence rhythms. I learn from rumination, from universal claims or queries, from a line that shows me what I didn’t realize I already knew. That kind of teaching happens when a writer steps back in a pause, a consideration. But I also learn from sentences that convey—through rhythm, length, sound—that there’s a nuance behind or beyond what’s being told. I admire writers who follow behind the story as if they are walking down an abandoned road, a few steps behind, attuned to the echoes of what they are watching from a distance.

So. Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, not only because he’s focused on the line, but because he pares down our lives to the spaces that inhabit or hold them: houses, drawers, wardrobes, nests, shells, corners. He made me think about how I should stay with something small to reveal something larger. Here’s a line: “The lamp is a symbol of prolonged waiting.” That made me think about lamps I’ve known. What did they wait for?

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