Stacy Skolnik Tells Us the Only Reason to Get a MFA
Andrew Welch

Andrew Welch


Who rose up in me
like a pale sun.
Like a nauseous flower
that I clipped and saved the petals of
in some sour box.

Who I never knew
but knew to be small as the size
of a poppy seed.

Eddie, who came to me in a dream,
once I had killed him confidently. 

Who I would have kept,
tiny and tucked away
inside of my bellied body
forever if I could. But things grow,
so I slew him without question.
I squashed him, sucked him
out of myself like a dust bunny, like a bug,
quicker than he came.

To my surprise
he has only grown bigger
and bigger, tall as any man
with a face.

Q & A with Stacy Skolnik and editor Joanna C. Valente

JV: Talk to me about your line breaks. How do you determine them?
SS: There might be a dual meaning to a larger “sentence” and a line break can help to delineate the meanings, or there is a natural pause for breath that I want to make room for.

What would you say is your obsession right now? As poets & artists, we are sometimes defined by these obsessions in our work.
I’ve always been, and continue to be, obsessed with simplicity, and with touching on subjects that are somehow, at once, both base and grand.

You studied creative writing in school as an undergrad. Would you recommend this experience to others?
I went to school for poetry because I really didn’t have an interest in going for much else. I’m currently halfway through my first semester in the Poetry MFA program at Brooklyn College, and I went back for the fun of it. I would recommend going to school for writing if you want to write, obviously, and if you want to try to find out who you are as a writer. You should also realize that it probably won’t help you get a job related to writing. Go for kicks, if that’s how you think you’re gonna get your kicks.

Who writes your poems—what part of you?
It’s mostly just me, and a little bit of my alter ego.

I’ve always felt my poems come alive after they’ve been edited—as if I’m carving a poem, rather than writing it. Would you agree or disagree with this?
I agree. When I first write a poem it’s like laying out a skeleton, and it isn’t always pretty. Editing gives the poem color and flesh, and yes, brings it to life.

Editor's Note: These poems originally appeared on our old site.

Stacy Skolnik is a poet and educator living in Brooklyn, NY. An editor for Montez Press with an MFA from Brooklyn College, she is the coauthor of Rat Park (2018) with Katie Della-Valle and a PEN America Prison Writing Mentor. Her writing has been published in No Dear Magazine, Fjords Review, The Adirondack Review, KGB Bar Lit Magazine, and elsewhere.