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We who are about to breed: Sage Cohen.

August 30, 2011 \pm\31 12:15 pm

[In which WWAATD asks writers and other artist types about life as breeders/parents/kid-keepers.]

Name: Sage Cohen

1. What is your kid’s name, age?  

I have an almost-three-year old-son named Theo.

2. How do you balance your time between parenting and writing?

Ah, yes, balance: the elusive quest of the writing parent! The ever-shifting ground of infancy and toddlerhood has demanded great flexibility and patience. In Theo’s first year and a half, when I was up with him every two-to-three hours around the clock and also working full-time to support my family and promoting a new book, I made those night wakings my “poetic practice.” Being present to the intimate bliss of my son’s needs being met and my own agonies of exhaustion was often as much as I was able to accomplish in the way of writing practice. As we both started sleeping more, my writing rhythms more reliably revolved around nap times and Theo’s bed time. This continues to be an ever-evolving dance as my son grows and his rhythms change.

3. What is the best piece of advice about being a parent and a writer?

The birth of a new family order means the death of the old paradigm. Expect your writing life to be forever changed when you become a parent. Trust that your parenting journey will take your writing where it is meant to go, and keep your attention on opportunities for evolution. Understand that none of it is likely to look like what you expected. That’s ok. There’s tremendous juice in the not-knowing, if you are willing to sit with it (and write with it.) And, most importantly, just because you have less time doesn’t mean that you will inevitably write less. In fact, you may find yourself tapping into unprecedented efficiency.

4. How has your writing changed since becoming a parent?

Parenting has seasoned me, ripened me. I also went through a divorce in my son’s first, few years, so the expansive falling-in-love with my son process + heartbreak have all been baked in together. I’d say all of it has brought me more nakedly into the truths of the human experience. I am learning how to be unflinching in staying with what I’d rather turn away from, and therefore knowing / writing from a more nuanced and authentic place place.

5. Tell us something we don’t know about you and being a writer-slash-parent.

Before I was a parent, I pretty much never stopped working. I ran my own business and had a full-time creative writing life on the side, along with about ten literary community volunteer commitments, several blogs, a variety of online classes, you get the drift. Parenting is teaching me the lesson of a lifetime: to be more and do less. Paradoxically, I am finding that the less I “do,” the more I accomplish. I have no idea how that algorithm works. But I suspect that parenthood breaks us open in just the ways we needed to find the lessons that serve us as we move forward in the new skin of parenthood.

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3 Comments
  1. Stella Padnos-Shea permalink
    August 30, 2011 \pm\31 1:09 pm 1:09 pm

    Wow– I read this with my 2 1/2- week-old daughter on my lap. Do less, accomplish more. If I can make a sandwich for myself without Mirabel crying, this is newfound success.

  2. August 31, 2011 \pm\31 3:08 pm 3:08 pm

    Sage is one of the most positive poets I’ve ever met. She’s sweet, smart, and funny. She recently published a book by another kind person: Carolyn Martin. Here’s an interview with her in which she describes Sage’s role as publisher.

  3. Miss Frangipani permalink
    September 8, 2011 \am\30 4:08 am 4:08 am

    Do less, accomplish more works for me as well, with a 2 1/2 year old at my feet a lot of the time! I love Sage’s work and her accomplishments are truly inspiring.

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