Sweet Connections: Laura Donnelly

Each week we will be connecting with our contributors showing where they have been, where they are now, and what’s up for the future.

Name: Laura Donnelly
Title of Piece Published in Sweet: An Ordinary Sleep
Issue:  9.3

Donnelly Photo

Find her:


Laura can be found teaching poetry at SUNY Oswego, digging in her garden, or watching the latest season of the Great British Bake Off. You can learn more about Laura by visiting her website.

What are some major accomplishments you have had since your Sweet publication?

I recently learned that my second collection of poems, Midwest Gothic, was selected by Maggie Smith for the Richard Snyder Poetry Prize. It’s slated for publication by Ashland Poetry Press in 2020.

Can you tell us about a current/ongoing project that you’re excited about?

While working on the new book, Midwest Gothic, I’ve often returned to Virginia Woolf’s comment that “we think back through our mothers.” More specifically, I’ve been thinking back through my mother and grandmothers’ relationship to a specific kind of rural life and religion that my mother (and I) eventually left. That leaving was both an escape and a loss, and this project tries to hold those truths side-by-side.

Who is your favorite author?

Some of my early favorites that I still return to: Jane Kenyon for grounding, Naomi Shihab Nye for wonder, Ellen Bryant Voigt for music; and Woolf, of course, who I mention above.

What is your favorite poem/essay/book?

A few of my favorite books from this past year: Ross Gay’s Book of Delights, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweet Grass, and Richard Powers’ Overstory. My reading obsessions are turning increasingly towards gardening and the environment.

What inspires you to write?

I recently saw the documentary about the pianist Seymour Bernstein (Seymour: An Introduction), and there’s a marvelous part in it about the way that practicing music is really about listening. About being deeply attentive. Poetry provides a space for a similar kind of attention, and in that space, I often find my poems know more than I do, are more honest or aware or… something. That might not exactly be an inspiration, but it’s a deep pull that keeps me coming back to poetry.

What is your favorite sweet?

The best thing I’ve eaten all year is this bowl of strawberry-rhubarb crisp topped with vanilla ice-cream.

Donnelly Dessert

Thank you, Laura, for taking the time to reconnect with us.  We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!

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