Madeleine Barnes is a poet, visual artist, and Doctoral Fellow in English Literature at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her debut poetry collection, You Do Not Have To Be Good, was recently selected as the winner of Trio House Press’ open reading period, and will be published in May 2020. She is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Women’s Work, forthcoming from Tolsun Books. She serves as Poetry Editor at Cordella Magazine, a publication that showcases the work of women and non-binary writers and artists. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU in 2016, and she teaches at Brooklyn College.
How does your work first enter the world? Do you have a social group or writers group that you work ideas and poems with?
Recently I’ve been writing collaborative poems with former students via email correspondence. We’ll devise an arbitrary goal, such as, “let’s compose a twenty line poem about an astronaut in iambic pentameter.” I’ll send one line, they’ll send the next, and we'll volley lines back and forth until we achieve our goal. This process is profoundly generative, and I love thinking about how a fusion of different voices creates unexpected journeys and dialogues. Collage is another way to begin writing—I like to hunt for unusual phrases in old astronomy magazines and medical texts. These days, I work on my writing alone, but when I lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I was part of the Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops. The Madwomen provided an invaluable safe space to me when I needed it most. I couldn’t have written the forthcoming collection without them.