Lidia Yuknavitch

This week’s episode is about the edges of things, about precipices and outer limits and frontiers. And what better guide to this terrain could we ask for than Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water, The Misfit’s Manifesto, and most recently, Verge. We’re talking about how to help your stories find their form, the many roles the body plays in our writing lives, and how fear informs the creative process.


Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water and the National Bestselling novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children; the novel Dora: A Headcase, and and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories Of Violence. She is also known for her TED talk “The Beauty of Being a Misfit”, which has been viewed over 2.5 million times, and her followup book The Misfit’s Manifesto, and most recently, Verge, a collection of short stories that just came out in February 2020. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland Oregon, where she teaches both in person and online. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Oregon with her husband Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son, Miles. She is a very good swimmer.

Takeaway: Explore Boundarylessness Through Poetry

Today’s takeaway is a little challenge that I’m going to offer you that I presented to my son’s third grade class a couple weeks ago. I stepped in to teach a poetry class of all things because our school district had put a temporary hiatus on Zoom sessions, so the kids found themselves without their teacher. I had them write a poem from a prompt, which I’m going to share here and which you can find on our site under the episode details. You can do this with kids, too, of course, but what I like about it is that it gets you out of your head and into your senses, and its prompting to think of things that are imaginary can support you in an exploration of boundary-breaking, or boundarylessness. Here’s the how the prompt goes:

I am (2 special characteristics you have)
I wonder (something of curiosity)
I hear (an imaginary sound)
I see (an imaginary sight)
I want (an actual desire)

I pretend (something you actually pretend to do)
I feel (a feeling about something imaginary)
I touch (an imaginary touch)
I worry (something that bothers you)
I cry (something that makes you sad)

I understand (something that is true)
I say (something you believe in)
I dream (something you dream about)
I try (something you really make an effort about)
I hope (something you hope for)
I am (the first line of the poem repeated)

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