Catching Up With Tinderbox

Cover of "Propagation" by Lesley Wheeler: a black-and-white photo of tall white pine trees with branches only at the very top, and a sliver of sky at the top of the page.
Propagation by Lesley Wheeler

Where can we read some of your recent work?

Online, there’s “Energize” in SWWIM; in print, I have poems in Rise Up Review, Poetry Northwest, Cimarron Review, Cascadia Subduction Zone, Manifest West, Flock, and TAB. Big gratitude to all of those editors! The most recent book is a chap from Dancing Girl, Propagation, a fairy-tale-based long poem. And I blog about poetry and the writing life every other week, or thereabouts.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished a really terrific poetry collection, Anagnorisis, by Kyle Dargan—one of those slim volumes that reminds you what a wide range of thinking and feeling poetry can encompass. Joy Harjo just visited campus and her recent collection, Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, is another stunner—it aims at healing but without simplification or shortcuts. I’m also loving Lauren K. Alleyne’s work. In novels, Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers was totally riveting, and I’m currently in the middle of Charlie Jane Anders’ City in the Middle of the Night. I’m also reading Shenandoah’s poetry submissions, which is intensely fun but also hard. We receive so many very good poems and just can’t print them all.

What’s next for you?

I’m at a really exciting moment, with multiple books under contract. Tinderbox Editions will publish my next poetry collection early in 2020—stay tuned for the title—and my novel, Unbecoming, is forthcoming from Aqueduct Press. They’re both about the border I just crossed into my fifties. The novel has a magical take on the transition: a perimenopausal woman begins to suspect that uncanny powers come with the change. The poetry is more political and perhaps more spiritual, as well as being very much rooted in Virginian landscape and history.

Lesley Wheeler

Lesley Wheeler’s books include Radioland and Heterotopia, winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize, and the chapbook Propagation. Her poems and essays appear in Cold Mountain Review, Ecotone, Gettysburg Review, and elsewhere, and her novel, Unbecoming, is scheduled for publication in 2020. Poetry Editor of Shenandoah, Wheeler teaches at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and blogs about poetry at

@LesleyMWheeler on Twitter and Instagram, Facebook.