"Dramaturgy is a wooly discipline that can be difficult to define"
Monday, May 1, 2023
headshot of writer

The Writing University conducts interviews with writers while they are in Iowa City participating in the various writing programs on campus. We sit down with authors to ask about their work, their process and their descriptions of home. Today we are speaking with Margo Skornia. Margo Skornia is a writer and dramaturg. She is available for freelance work at www.margoskornia.com.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about what brought you to the University of Iowa?

I came to the University of Iowa for a few reasons. During the application process, I spoke with Dr. Art Borreca on the phone for what must have been an hour - we just got caught up talking about the university, about my interest in the Federal Theatre Project, and about the dramaturgy program here. I was also excited by the pride the university takes in its MFA writers. The presence of the Writers' Workshop, of course, lends such weight to UIowa, but the fact that it takes the other workshops just as seriously was really important to me. Finally, UIowa was the first public co-ed university, which I just think is neat.

2. What is the inspiration for your work right now?
Right now, I'm writing for clarity. Dramaturgy is a wooly discipline that can be difficult to define, so I've been spending a great deal of time working on clarifiying my understanding of dramaturgical work. I usually write from a place of confusion. I've written cultural criticism that, more than anything else, is an attempt to get my own thoughts in order. I usually feel less anxious and mixed-up after I've banged out a few hundred words. I'm also writing my first book review and I'm glad to be trying a new form. It's exciting!

3. Do you have a daily writing routine?
I'm lousy at writing every day. I wish I was better at it; I lack the discipline. I think about writing all the time, though. I love Ursula K. Le Guin's method of waking up early and staring at the ceiling while thinking about writing. I'm not always good at the waking up early bit, but I can do the lay in bed part. I like writing late at night or during my office hours.

4. What are you reading right now? Are you reading for research or pleasure?
I'm finally reading (listening to, actually) The Power Broker. I'm maybe 2 hours into it and I think I have 60-something to go? I usually have two books on the go because I get distracted easily and I'm trying not to use my phone before bed, so I'm reading John Grisham's The Firm. These are both for pleasure, but I've got some other stuff I'm flipping through for research.

5. Tell us about where you are from - what are some favorite details you would like to share about your home?
I'm from Michigan originally. It's beautiful - four seasons, long days in the summer. I'm from a town called Rockford, which is about 20 minutes north of Grand Rapids. If you hold your left hand out, it's kind of by the knuckle of your ring finger. Iowa reminds me a lot of Michigan, but there are definitely things I miss. With Fat Tuesday coming up, I'm really missing paczki, which are basically jelly doughnuts, but only eaten on Fat Tuesday.


Thank you so much!