Jane Schapiro was raised in St. Louis, Missouri. She received a B.A. in Anthropology from The Colorado College and did graduate work
at George Mason University. She has taught physical education and adult creative writing workshops, lived and worked in Israel and
bicycled across the United States. Schapiro lives in Annandale, Virginia with her husband Scott Brown and three daughters.
Interview with Jane Schapiro
Q: How and when did you find out that your book was being published?
I got the call in the evening. The voice on the other end asked for Jane Schapiro. This is always a clue that the caller comes from the world
of writing. In my everyday life I go by my married name Brown but when I publish and to my writer friends, I go by my maiden name Schapiro. My
heart always speeds up when I hear Schapiro because I know that, if nothing else, I'm going to be talking about writing. I suppose the best
word to describe what I felt after hearing the news was "validated."
Q: What kind of poet/ fiction writer do you see yourself as? Is there a particular genre or subject matter you find yourself revisiting
The best way to describe my writing is to quote David Ignatow: "My avocation is to stay alive. My vocation is to write about it."
Q: When did you first realize that you were a writer? Can you pinpoint a specific time in your life, or did you always know that you wanted
I didn't discover that I loved to write until I was already finished with formal schooling. I wish I had known earlier because I would have
chosen college courses differently. I would have benefited from reading and discussing the classics with others. I ended up going back and
reading many of the masters on my own. The first creative piece I wrote was an essay about my stay on a kibbutz in Israel. What is memorable
is not the piece but how totally absorbed I became while writing it. I remember sitting and writing for hours and being stunned afterwards at
how completely oblivious to the outside world I had been for those hours. I had never before experienced such total escape and I craved it, so
I wrote more. The more I wrote, the more I craved the feeling. I eventually landed on poetry as the vehicle for me though over the years I
have also written nonfiction.
Q: What is the best writing advice you ever received and from who?
C.K. Williams once told me that a good poem employs many of the same characteristics as a good joke. I agree with that.
Q: What is the strangest job you ever had?
I was a certified EMT and rode on an ambulance.