:: Interview with Maurya Simon

By Dominique McCafferty, Librarian

Maurya Simon is the author of seven volumes of poetry: The Enchanted Room, Days of Awe, Speaking in Tongues, The Golden Labyrinth, A Brief History of Punctuation, Ghost Orchid, which was nominated for a National Book Award in 2004, and Weavers. Some of the paintings that grace the covers of Maurya's books of poems — The Enchanted Room, Days of Awe, Ghost Orchid, and Weavers — were painted by her mother, Los Angeles artist Baila Goldenthal. Her poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review, Grand Street, Agni, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, New England Review, and in more than thirty anthologies.

Simon teaches in and chairs the Creative Writing Department at the University of California, Riverside and lives in the Angeles National Forest of the San Gabriel Mountains, in Southern California.


DM: According to my notes, you've lived in Italy, Sweden, Scotland,
and India. You've lived all over Europe.

MS: Yes, I've been around. I was born in 1950 in New York, but my
parents moved to California when I was an infant. I've spent most of
my life in California —both in Northern and Southern California.

When I was four, my parents were fed up with the Eisenhower
doldrums in America, and they yearned for the culture of Europe, so
they decided to leave. They took me and my sister with them, and
we lived in Europe for almost four years. These were post-war times,
so the dollar was very strong. I remember my father taught periodically in
American schools and gave private piano and violin lessons, so we
were able to get by fairly decently living a kind of gypsy life.

That was a wonderful time in my life, very formative. My parents were
always surrounded by writers and artists, so it seemed kind of
unavoidable that I would yearn for the creative life. I was surrounded
by role models, people who were exciting and passionate about their

DM: I think that's wonderful.

MS: It really was.


The full interview will be available on the Interboard Poetry Community's (IBPC) website soon.

Readers & Writers