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An Interview with Morgan Liphart, author of Barefoot and Running

liphart

Morgan Liphart’s work has appeared in anthologies and journals across the US, Canada, Italy, England, and Scotland, such as Oxford University Press’ Literary Imagination, Popshot Quarterly, and The Comstock Review. Her chapbook, Barefoot and Running, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. When she’s not writing, she enjoys her career as an attorney and loves to adventure in the wild spaces surrounding her home near the Rocky Mountains.



Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Writing isn’t a choice for me. I’m sure so many poets feel this way. It’s as if some strange stars were aligned in a certain way the moment poets were born, and we came out noticing the specific way hummingbirds drink from flowers and foxes dig their dens. To be a poet is to pay attention. To want to make the whole world pay attention. As early as I can remember, I used to write poems in spiral-bound notebooks and shove them underneath my bed. My writing was terrible. I couldn’t quite get my e’s and f’s right. But I needed to talk to the pages about the shine off my new patent mary-jane shoes. I never could have predicted that same little girl’s writing is now in the library at Oxford.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I am an attorney! I draft and negotiate contracts for a living. I could not survive my profession without poetry. When the deals that I’m closing try to make me hard and calloused over, poetry opens me back up. When it seems like the world is only full of conflict and chaos, poetry reminds me of the softness of the rabbit that lives beneath my front porch and the sway of the trees. It saves me day after day. It refocuses my lens towards joy, beauty, simplicity, and gratitude.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I knew the title I wanted years before the book actually came together. The title Barefoot and Running captivated me because of the feeling it creates. It has momentum. It makes me feel like I’m running through an unknown forest with nothing but the beat of my heart and the courage to keep going. This feeling matches the poems in my book. There’s a breathlessness to the poems. And a tirelessness.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

This is my favorite question in the world!

“Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes” by Mappe Of

“Flight Risk” by Tommy Lefroy

“After the Storm” by Mumford & Sons

“Hold No Grudge” by Lorde

“Old Pine” by Ben Howard

“I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

My perfect reader is someone who is ready to look their past fully in the face in order to heal it. Someone who is ready to let that past smooth their rough edges like a sea stone. Someone who is ready to finally forgive it. Through Barefoot and Running, I hope that reader comes to understand they are not alone in what they have been through. As human beings, we are all connected through loss. But we are also all connected through our capacity for hope and tenderness. I hope this book bring both hope and tenderness.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The best part of publishing my book was receiving Instagram DMs from people all over the world who read my book and needed to talk about the weight that it lifted off of them. In writing the book, I healed myself. But I didn’t realize it would be such a healing experience for so many other people to read. I learned that art is fundamentally exponential. It has an effect on the artist and then it multiplies itself all across the world. I wasn’t prepared at all for this!

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Whenever anyone asks me when my second book is coming out, the answer is always: I don’t know. I have to live it first!

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