Why Carrie Fountain Always Remains a Beginner

Nov 25, 2014

Credit Matt Valentine

Talking with Carrie Fountain is like grabbing a coffee with a dear friend you who leaves you feeling thrilled and more awake to the world around you.

The conversation with the award-winning poet in this episode of The Write Up spins to wonderfully surprising places, exploring parenting, mysticism, craft and her extraordinary new poetry collection Instant Winner.

But, whether it’s writing her next poem or facing a new parenting challenge, Fountain says she consistently strives to “always remain a beginner.”

Carrie Fountain’s poems are prayers. Like prayers they carry the earthbound to heaven. Her poems are born from daily life -- experiences of motherhood, marriage, traffic and trash trucks – but quickly rise up to questions of spirit and desires for divine connection.

Fountain earned her MFA at the James A. Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin where she began work on what would become her debut collection Burn Lake. That book received the 2009 National Poetry Series winner and was published in 2010 by Penguin.

Her latest collection, Instant Winner, is a sly prayer book of winking meditations and wry observations. Fountain has a gift for finding the miraculous in the mundane, the tremendous in the ordinary. Capturing a fragment of life, a passing moment, Fountain highlights the endless magic moments that fill an average day. Like the best of poetry, her pieces inspire new views on a world we believe we know.

Balancing a family and a writing career can be an incredible trial. Fountain and I chat about becoming a mother and how that has impacted her life and poetry. Fountain is married to acclaimed playwright Kirk Lynn. We chat about how a household of two creatives works and how the two have inspired, supported, and challenged each other.

Fountain has taught at the university level for several years and is now the writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s University. We chat about mentoring younger poets and her love for poets who have inspired her.

Much of poetry in Instant Winner describes encounters with the spiritual. Fountain shares some her own experiences with organized religion and where she stands now on questions of faith, God, and religion. She also discusses the role writing poetry plays in her spiritual life. 

We touch upon Fountain’s own process in approaching writing: When she writes, how she seeks inspiration, and the discipline needed to sculpt a career in the arts. She also gives us a peek at how she approaches a blank page. Fountain hopes her style never outshines her poem, instead she aims for what she calls an “invisible craft.”

So brew a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and join us for a conversation on this edition of The Write Up.