Alexandra Wilder joins WritersCorps this month as our new program associate. Alexandra is the former managing director of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center in New York and a Toronto native. Everyone give her a warm Bay Area welcome!
What drew you to work for WritersCorps?
Working at WritersCorps really unites my two loves, which are creative writing and community service — to be a part of an organization that promotes the teaching of creative writing and that has such a vital impact on young people is truly an honor and a dream come true.
Where are you from? What drew you to San Francisco?
I was born and raised in Toronto, and moved to New York to pursue an MFA in poetry at Sarah Lawrence. I lived in Brooklyn for eight years. I love New York City — it’s such a mecca of culture and the arts, particularly of literature — but I’ve been an East Coast gal all my life, and found myself very drawn to San Francisco after first visiting two years ago. San Francisco has such a great arts and culture scene (and amazing restaurants!), with an added laid back feel that was really appealing to me. San Francisco gives the impression of being both an urban center and a small town at the same time — with proximity to such beautiful natural landscapes — that was really irresistible to me.
Do you have a writing routine?
I don’t have a set writing routine at the moment. All those people who say you should force yourself to write a little every day are right! Right now, I tend to write only when “inspiration strikes,” but I’m hoping to get into a routine once I’m settled in here. Other than having a routine, I find taking writing classes or meeting with a writing group to be extremely helpful. It’s great to get feedback from people you trust and to build a community of writers.
OK, this might be a tough question: Who is your favorite poet?
My very favorite contemporary poet is Kay Ryan. Her poems are such tiny gems; you have to read each of them about 10 times at least to get everything out of them. She has fun with words and sounds, and there’s an amazing balance struck of simultaneous lightness and solemnity to them. I was lucky enough to meet her through my work at the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center, and she’s an amazing person — so funny and warm. In addition to poetry, and recently serving as Poet Laureate, she has dedicated herself to teaching and has taught remedial English as an adjunct professor at the Bay Area’s College of Marin for 33 years. Read her poem “Blandeur” here.
What are you reading right now?
I read mostly fiction and poetry, and right now I’ve just started reading “The Little Friend,” a novel by Donna Tartt. I recently read “The Secret History,” her other novel, and was blown away by the level of detail in terms of character development. Tartt takes about 10 years to work on a book and it really shows — when work has gone through a lengthy revision process and attention has been given to every sentence, you can feel it. Her work has really made me think about publishing culture today, and how authors are often pressured to produce books as quickly as possible, to keep the “promotion machine” going. I admire Tartt for taking the time to produce work with such care and attention to detail.