Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Writing University conducts a series of interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various University of Iowa writing programs. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home.

This year, we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the University of Iowa Press with a special editon of 5Q Interviews of UI Press authors throughout the years. Happy Birthday UI Press!

Today we are speaking with Emily Wortman-Wunder.


Emily Wortman-Wunder

Emily Wortman-Wunder is an essayist and fiction writer, with recent work in the Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, Nimrod, High Country News, and elsewhere. Her work explores the emotional resonance of place by drawing on history, ecology, landscape art, and folklore. She teaches scientific writing at the University of Colorado Denver.



1. Hello Emily! Do you have a specific project that you will be working on this year?

I’m at the second draft stage of a novel about environmental change and collapse. I also am writing several essays about Southwest Colorado.

2. What does your daily practice look like for your writing? Do you have a certain time when you write? Any specific routine?

I try to write at least a half hour every day. On the days that I teach this is a challenge; I’ll close my office door and try to ignore the distractions of campus. On my non-teaching days I get my best writing done in the morning, after I’ve taken my daughter to school but before the mid-afternoon doldrums.

3. What are you currently reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?

I typically have between four and six books that I’m reading at any given time, and it’s usually a mix of fiction and nonfiction. Right now, my nonfiction reads are all for research: I’m in the middle of an old favorite, Anasazi America, as well as some of the more baffling technical monographs it draws on. My fiction reads are more for fun: I’m rereading Their Eyes Were Watching God and finishing a terrific book of short stories by my fellow Colorado State University Alum Jennifer Wortman: This. This. This. Is. Love. Love. Love.

4. Tell us about where you are from -- what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?

Oh, god. I’ve lived in the Denver suburbs for over ten years and I hate it. I am counting the days until my kids are done with school and we can move to the mountains. I will say my hate has been productive creatively, though. Several of my short stories explore that territory where old farmland – itself a recent imposition on the shortgrass prairie – is being blanketed over by these pristine, photogenic suburbs with artfully preserved silos and barns and beautiful bike paths. What happens to the old fierce loneliness of the prairie? Does it just go away, like the lark buntings and the lizards? Or does it bottle itself up? And what’s going to happen to all of this shiny prosperity when climate change destroys the economy?

5. The UI Press is turning 50 this year! Share with us a bit about your experience and relationship with the press.

I’ve had a great experience with the press – everyone I’ve worked with has been super accommodating and responsive. This is my first published book, and people have been very willing to explain the process and let me know what I need to do.


Thank you Emily!

Established in 1969, the University of Iowa Press serves scholars, students, and readers throughout the world with works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. As the only university press in the state, Iowa is also dedicated to preserving the literature, history, culture, wildlife, and natural areas of the Midwest. The UI Press is a place where first-class writing matters, whether the subject is Whitman or Shakespeare, prairie or poetry, memoirs or fandom. They are committed to the vital role played by small presses as publishers of scholarly and creative works that may not attract commercial attention. For more information, please e-mail uipress@uiowa.edu.