An Interview with Stephen Nathan

Welcome! Thanks for stopping by to get to know HWP contributor Stephen Nathan. We shared Stephen's poem Seventy in the 2019 issue of From the Depths. Let's get to it!

Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I'm a husband, father, and grandfather as well as a writer. I have spent over 40 years writing communally for television and film. Now I'm glad to be able to spend some of my time in the more solitary pursuit of playwriting and poetry.

Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process is pretty basic. I make notes in my phone throughout the day. When it comes time to start actually writing, I sit in front of my computer and type away until I no longer hate myself.

Don't try to be good, just be true.


How do you handle writer's block?
A nice long walk. If that doesn't work, I just give up until I somehow become a writer again. Usually the anxiety returns me to my chair.

Where do you draw inspiration from? What was the inspiration behind this particular piece?
All I can do is look and listen and hopefully be surprised. I always try to uncover something when I write. So rather than write what I know, I guess I write about what I don't know and see where that lands me. For this poem I was exploring what life was like for me now. The result was, happily, surprising for me.

Did you face any challenges writing this piece?
No more than usual.

What do you hope your readers take away from this piece?
A new feeling or thought about something they might not have experienced yet, perhaps a way to see the world a little differently.

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 chalk it up to the randomness of life. Choices usually reveal themselves in retrospect, when we try to make sense of things. And even then they seem preordained. Looking back I don't know how else my life could've unfolded.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don't try to be good, just be true.

What is your favorite childhood book?
Horton Hears A Who.

What are you reading right now?
I often jump between books. Currently I'm reading the following:
Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll
On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Twenty Poems That Could Save America by Tony Hoagland

What words do you live by? Do you have a personal motto?
Be kind. And try not to get too upset about politics.

What’s next? Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on in 2020?
I'm hoping to finish a play I'm working on. And write some more poems I'm sure.

If you could share any advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Don't talk about becoming a writer. Just write. Even if it's shit. You can't learn how to do something unless you do it.


About the Author

Stephen Nathan began his professional life as an actor (originating the role of Jesus in Godspell) but moved into a career as a writer in the late 70s. For over 40 years he has primarily written for film, television and theater winning, among other acknowledgements, the Humanitas Prize, Writers Guild Award, and two Emmy nominations. Nathan's poetry has recently been or will soon be featured in the Esthetic Apostle, Typishly, Cathexis Northwest Press, Cultural Weekly, and in Snollygoster, a collection from Paragon Press.

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