Erin Coffin introduces poetry in professional writing

I have always believed that I suffer from a vague and benign form of narcolepsy. Whenever asked what I think my superpower is, I’ll usually say that I can fall asleep anywhere, any time, in any context.

Acknowledging this “power” also ended any thought I ever entertained of pursuing a career in psychology, communications or history. While these subjects fascinated me, my heavy eyelids made enrolling in these lecture-style courses in college a threat to my GPA. I realized about myself that in order to fully capitalize on my undergraduate experience, I needed to find a major that offered a more intimate academic setting.

After my first poetry workshop, I was so wide awake that I thought I would never fall asleep again.

Reading, writing and editing poetry became my passion. It was there for me when I traveled around the country, there when I loved and lost and there when I left my childhood home and started my life in Texas.
 But it was in Texas that I lost my way — for a while.

I stopped writing and reading — and I certainly stopped editing. But we reunited like old friends when I found Professional Writers of Austin (PWA) and WriteByNight (WBN) on an unseasonably warm January afternoon. While walking home from lunch with a friend, I came across the WBN office on East 6th Street. Through no conscious decision of my own, I found myself marching right up to the door. It was locked, but Justine Tal Goldberg hurried over to welcome me in and give me information about the writing center and partner networking organization, PWA. I went home to tell my roommates that I found my way back. I was ready to start writing again.

After my first networking event, I was intrigued and excited. After I contributed my first few blog posts, I was hooked. After my first few meetings with PWA founder, Riki Markowitz, I realized just how vital this network is to the Austin writing community and how badly I wanted to get involved.

As a volunteer, I’ve had an amazing time learning about Austin’s professional writers’ world. After about four weeks, I landed the first job interview I had in months and was soon offered an authentic — paying — internship through job listings that I found after I was appointed editor of the job board.

In early June, I mentioned out loud that in my experience, the poetry community in Austin lacked cohesion. We have poetry readings, a few festivals and a dynamic slam poetry community. But I could not find a way to network with Austin poets on a regular basis. I decided that I wanted to help create the community I so badly crave.

With Riki and Justine’s support, this blog post marks the beginning of my time as PWA’s poetry editor. So be on the lookout for interviews with local poets, reporting on our poetry community, programs and events. I’ll be covering readings, workshops and festivals, as well as discussing the craft and the culture of all things poetic.

If you’re involved in the poetry community here in Austin, or would like to get more involved, get in touch with me. You can also join PWA and sign-up here to get reminders about upcoming events and programs for all writers.

Erin is a poet and a publishing intern for Landes Bioscience. She is now the poetry editor at Professional Writers of Austin, and looks forward to finding and cultivating an inspiring,  dynamic poetry community.