unique place in this world,
and your job is to write
Sage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her essay “The Word Is the Way” appeared alongside thought leaders such as Barack Obama, Al Gore, and Thomas L. Friedman in the anthology How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth. Cohen has won first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She holds an M.A. in creative writing from New York University and a B.A. from Brown University. Cohen lectures and teaches widely—including the popular online class Poetry for the People, publishes the Writing the Life Poetic zine, and hosts the online community and learning laboratory The Path of Possibility in Writing and Life at www.pathofpossibility.com.
I had the chance to work as Cohen’s editor for her book The Productive Writer. I found myself identifying with so many things she said in the book, and was inspired by not just her ideas and writing advice, but by her voice. Reading her book was like sitting down to discuss the craft of writing with a friend over a cup of coffee. Check out the following interview with her, and you’ll see what I mean.
that you wanted to be a
I never really thought about wanting to be a writer. From a very young age, writing was just something I did—like breathing— to stay alive. In my early 20s, it occurred to me that I wrote poems every day, and perhaps that meant that I was a poet. It was a bit of a shock, really, to discover that I was a writer when I had no selfconsciousness about it for so long.
While it was certainly not the first thing I ever wrote, my 10th grade paper on “The Once and Future King” was my initiation into the alchemies of the writing life. I remember carefully articulating my three-point argument to back up my thesis statement, just as we were instructed to do. And then, when I arrived at the conclusion, it sort of wrote its way through me. I lost conscious control and some other impulse drew the unifying revelation out and onto the paper. It was almost a mystical experience. I was hooked.