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Sleet Interview
by TJ Kampa

Suzanne Nielsen is a writer, a teacher, a mentor and an all around cool person. I was fortunate enough to be one of her students at Metropolitan State University where she has taught a variety of classes, including reading for writers and writing humor. In addition to teaching, Suzanne is also an accomplished author, having recently published a book of poetry. She is currently working on her next book, Matchdotcom for Dummies (and Retired Bunnies) her sixth, the story of a middle-aged woman exploring the world of dating on


Your latest poetry book, Bending Spoons: A leap of Faith…what is that about?

Spoon River was my introduction to Edgar Lee Masters as a poet. Bending Spoons: A Leap of Faith started as a New Year’s resolution, an homage to Masters. The leap represented a leap year; bending spoons is a metaphor for how I interweave narratives by writing a poem each day and revisiting the characters throughout the year.”

How did you find the discipline to write a complete poem every day?

“I think it’s important to write everyday, even if it is only for 15 minutes. The practice of pounding the keyboard and producing fragments of a story, poem or an essay are reminders that there is a bigger world than that which we claim to be ours.”

Who inspires you and your writing?

“I am inspired by Tori Amos, The Counting Crows and Anne Sexton. Other manipulators of text that appeal to me are John Irving, Lynda Barry and Gertrude Stein.”

If you could only have 5 books, what would they be?

“Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, Ray Carver’s Short Cuts, Armistead Maupin’s Maybe the Moon, and Bernays’ and Painter’s What If?”

What is your favorite word?


What is your least favorite word?


Where do you get your cool socks?

“I get most of them at Marshall’s, but I’ve also gotten them in strange places like the dog building at the State Fair. Marshall’s usually has irregular socks, and those are my favorite. I like for them to coordinate, but they don’t have to necessarily match. Yet, I never pick my socks randomly; they have to go with my shirts.”

What do you like to do for fun?

“Right now I volunteer once a month at women’s roller derby at the Roy Wilkins auditorium. You should check it out; it’s awesome! I used to watch it on TV and thought it was just a show, like wrestling, but these women are intense and real.”

What if you had a normal childhood, would you still be a good writer?

“Absolutely not! How could you be? Your writing would be flat because there are no demons to exercise. Good writing is its own therapy. Think about the writers you know, aren’t they all just a little off?”

You have a new book coming out; do you like to do readings?

“My new book is called “I thought you should know.” I don’t like readings where I’m the only reader. I prefer being in a group of readers so I’m not the first or the last reader. It’s too much attention and there are too many expectations. I’m always afraid I let people down.

Suzanne has never let me down; in fact, she was one of my best and most favorite teachers. She always has time for students, past or present, and is constantly encouraging our craft as writers. Her eclectic style and real voice are a joy to read. Check her out at

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