Margaret Koger

She’s a former teacher, librarian, and Poet in the Schools. Study of the interplay of nature and the economy during the settlement of the American West informs Maggie’s writing. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals online and in print.

She’s very active in the Treasure Valley writing community. Here (Soundcloud link) Ken Rodgers and Rebecca Evans quiz her about her writing methods and her advice for new authors

Her most recent publication is What These Hands Remember (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kelsay Books).

Do you have a writing routine? Where and when do you write?

I write for deadlines! A submission window or an upcoming writers group session sends me directly to my computer where I rewrite a shaky draft or fly off on a new idea as suggested by the muse of the day: a river nymph, a robin, or a stranger’s face—it just depends. I write in my office, where I’m surrounded by my husband Grove Koger’s collection of books. They inspire me to keep at it.

Do you have any patterns or rituals associated with your writing time?

I don’t occupy myself with set patterns or rituals when writing, but I often concentrate so hard I barely hear anyone talking to me. I love it!

What do you do when you hit a wall with your writing?

If I have trouble settling in to write, I regroup by looking back on previous successes or going for a walk along the river. I live next to the Boise [River], where the water feeds trees, birds, and appreciative people.

Do you plan your book in advance (plotting and outlining) or are you a “discovery writer”?

I don’t plan poetry—it just happens. I find the words to fill the lines as the meaning of what I’m about to say reveals itself. Prose is fun to write in a different way—I’m usually guided by a character, often a person I volunteer for an adventure. I love that both time and space are fungible when I’m writing. 

What’s the last book you read that made you go “wow!”?

A recent “wow” book for me was Robert Olmstead’s Coal Black Horse, a novel that made me feel the American Civil War in my bones. I also recommend The Limberlost Review: A Literary Journal of the Mountain West, edited by Rick and Rosemary Ardinger, and filled with words that show life’s richness in a clear and demanding focus. 

What book or author do you find yourself recommending and why?

I recommend reading the poet Kerri Webster who was my student long ago and now I study her poetry—so Lapis (2022). Also, any of William Stafford’s works! He taught me how to weave my voice into the poetry universe as if I were a person speaking to readers everywhere. 

What’s on your To Be Read pile?

What I will be reading next and for years to come is Ted Kooser’s The Wheeling Year, a guide that uplifts the heart through his quiet applause for everyday life as it deserves to be cherished.

What advice do you have for readers?

I tell readers—don’t worry about understanding what you read. The next page may open a window on a new vision or a door that releases you from the stale ground underfoot. 

What author, past or present, would you wish to have a long conversation with?

I would love to have dinner with Elizabeth Bishop, who was born three years before my mother, in 1911, served as Poet Laureate for the Library of Congress, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1956. The first line of her poem “One Art” is “The art of losing isn’t hard to master,” a thought sings and zings. 

Do you have early memories of reading or writing you’d like to share?

When I was a young reader, I loved James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales as they were handy, residing on the family bookshelf, and what adventures Natty Bumpo had! Also, I attended a two-room school where I was allowed to borrow books from the “big” room. They fueled my imagination and I idolized the magic of writing even then.

What books and/or authors have most influenced you as an author?

The most influential writers in my life have been William Stafford and Richard Hugo whose translucent styles revealed the depths of the earth and its people.

What do you most enjoy about being a writer? What do you least enjoy about being a writer?

As a writer, I totally enjoy typing my thoughts, shaping them into lines and then sharing my voice. I haven’t found the downside yet.

What would you tell a new writer?

I would always tell a new writer to write more. And find others with the same desire to share their thoughts and hearts with readers. Write before your thoughts escape forever!

Find Margaret online: