An Interview with Mary Hills Kuck

Thank you for allowing Haunted Waters Press the opportunity to showcase Log Cabin Quilt in the 2019 issue of From the Depths. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
An English and German teacher, I taught in several US states and then traveled to Jamaica, teaching there for 23 years. Five years ago I retired and returned to the US to live near family in Massachusetts.


Be brave enough to share your work with others. Don’t hide it in the desk.

—MARY HILLS KUCK


Tell us about your writing process. Do you have any writing routines or rituals that you practice? Any writing quirks?
I have a list of things I would like to write about, choose one and let it rattle around in my head for a while. Then, usually in the night, the poem comes together enough to write. I print it and keep it next to the computer and edit every time I sit down until it satisfies me. Often my poetry group helps me to polish it.

How do you handle writer’s block?
When I can’t write, I just do other things and read as much as I can. Everything I read feeds into what I write eventually.

Where do you draw inspiration from? What was the inspiration behind Log Cabin Quilt?
Although I read a lot, I am inspired by the way ordinary things–quilts, falling leaves, wildlife–speak to the human soul. This piece was inspired by a quilting class that I took long ago, where I learned about juxtaposing color and forming patterns with pieces of fabric that were saved from dresses, baby clothes, the bassinet, etc.

Did you face any challenges writing this piece?
This piece just rolled right out and built itself!

What do you hope your readers take away from this piece?
I hope they understand how craft reflects inner struggles.

Was there a defining moment that led you down this writerly path or a person who encouraged or helped shape you as a writer?
I had a supportive English teacher in high school who helped me publish my first poem. I have been writing poems all my life, but only since I retired have I had the time to focus on writing as an occupation.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Be brave enough to share your work with others. Don’t hide it in the desk.

What is your favorite childhood book?
That’s a tough one because I read a lot, but the first one that comes to mind is Heidi. I was so impressed by the free Alpine air, the goat milk and cheese, and the unrestricted childhood she had in the mountains.

What are you reading right now?
This month’s Image Journal, The Atlantic, other magazines I neglected for months. I just finished The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, and Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep. I am waiting for the library to send me The Crafty Poet: a portable workshop by Diane Lockward.

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
In everything, be kind.

What’s next? Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on in 2020?
I am beginning a set of poems about slave women in the early 19th century and the link between them and women abolitionists.

Thank you again for chatting with us. Finally, if you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don’t think about it, don’t talk about it, just write!


FROM THE DEPTHS 2019 No. 17


About the Author

Mary Hills Kuck has retired from teaching German, English and Communications, first in the US and for many years in Jamaica and now lives with her family in Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared in Long River Run, Connecticut River Review, Hamden Chronicle, SIMUL: Lutheran Voices in Poetry, Caduceus, The Jamaica Observer, Fire Stick: A Collection of New & Established Caribbean Poets, The Aurorean, Tipton Poetry Journal, Haunted Waters Press (forthcoming) and others. She received a 2018 Pushcart Prize nomination.

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