Isaac Sweeney's Interview with Poet Elisabeth Whitehead


(For more information about Elisabeth Whitehead's a pilgrim's traveling kit, email Cosa Nostra.)

Elisabeth Whitehead's chapbook, a pilgrim's traveling kit, was published in 2008 by Cosa Nostra Editions. She is also the co-editor of Greatcoat, and is now selecting pieces for its second edition.

In the following interview, along with talk about her chapbook and Greatcoat, Elisabeth talks about things all writers can relate to, such as style, being unique, teaching, and acceptance.

Ways With Words: The title of your chapbook, a pilgrim’s traveling kit, makes me want to carry it around in my pocket and open it whenever I have to make an important decision. How did you come up with the title?

Elisabeth Whitehead: The title comes from one of the poems in the chapbook, which includes a list of objects necessary for a journey through the particular landscape of these poems: maps, a leather bread pouch, a song book, relics…These poems are threaded with the character of a pilgrim, or a traveler, and I hope that the experience of reading the poems together is as though someone was on a voyage through a northern and more ancient or medieval landscape.

WWW: What inspired you to create a pilgrim’s traveling kit?

EW: I was approached by the poets Mary Hickman and Robert Fernandez, friends and classmates of mine at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, who were starting a chapbook press called Cosa Nostra Editions. They were both familiar with my work and helped decide which poems were to be included in the chapbook. These were poems already written; I didn’t write them with a chapbook in mind. I think Robert and Mary did a beautiful job on all four books that came out in their first publication cycle. Hand bound with letter pressed covers, they handled the work of all their authors with great attention and care.

Read the rest of this interview at Ways With Words.


This interview excerpt, copyright 2009 by Isaac Sweeney, was posted with the interviewer's permission.

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