You Should Try it Some Time

Phillip Lopate is best known as an essayist and anthologist, though he has also written two collections of poetry and three books of fiction. This month he published two new titles to add to his impressive bibliography, Portrait Inside My Head: Essays and To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary NonfictionJeffery Gleaves interviews Lopate for Harper’s and the conversation touches on, among other things, the avant-garde, authority, miscellaneous essays and thinking.

It isn’t easy for the loved ones of writers. To some degree, when you’re a writer you’re always writing in your head. Sometimes my wife or my daughter will say, “What is that expression on your face? What’s the matter?” I’ll say, “I’m just kind of writing a thing in my head.” It’s thinking. One time my daughter said, “You just sit there in the chair and think?” I said, “Yeah, you should try it some time.”