By Katie Marshall

Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she coaches individuals and groups toward building thriving, sustainable lives and organizations. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Indiana Review, and is forthcoming in Southampton Poetry Review. Her first full-length collection, “wine for a shotgun,” was published by EM Press. More information is available at

1. What is the most liberating thought you’ve ever had?

I can leave New York City.

2. What did it liberate you from?

The idea that my creative life force was tied to a geographic location, or accurately, the idea of that geographic location.

3. What does it mean to live a good life?

To be as actively present as possible in every aspect of living: spiritual, mental, relational, vocational, creative.

4. What illusion have you suffered from the most?

In his book “No Boundary,” Ken Wilbur writes, “The map is not the territory.” I’ve suffered most from the idea that the map IS the territory, that what I believe to be real in any moment IS reality. The good news is, I’m relieved of this suffering every time I remember that it’s all construct, it’s all constructed, and it’s all changing every moment of every second of every breath.

5. If you could go back and whisper in the ear of your 16-year-old self, what is the one thing you would tell them?

It’s OK. You’re doing a good job.

6. What does love feel like? (Real love, not hormonal love or I-like-the-idea-of-you-so-I’m-on-a-high love).

The best novel you’ve ever read, but it doesn’t end.

7. What does your daily routine look like?

Only the beginnings and endings of my days have any routine. Every day starts with a glass of lemon water and a tarot card, and every day ends with telling someone I love them. Everything else is up for grabs.

8. What is your favorite thing to look at?

Any body of water whose other edge I can’t see.

9. Describe your perfect weekend.

It would be warm, and involve part alone time, time with my beloved, and time with my other favorite people. To be capital-P perfect, it would need to involve the chance to see people with whom I don’t often get to spend time. Magically, there would be no worries about time limitations. There would be wine but no hangovers. A poem would happen, and reading, and I would receive some kind of good news. Water, there would be a body of water involved. Yoga, massage, a claw-foot bathtub, and a really good bed for sleeping.

10. What do you worry about the most?

Most frequently? Money. Most intensely? Race-based violence, rape culture, and climate-driven apocalypse. Most trivially? Why all my clothes pill no matter how expensive or cheap they are.

11. Why?

Because I’m self-employed. Because the world needs to be dangerous to different people than it is. Because I’m perplexed and really irritated by the phenomenon.

12. What makes you cry?

Deeply true things, especially when unexpected.

13. What do you doodle on the sides of your papers?

I don’t know how to describe them — swirls, I guess. Swooshes. Vines that aren’t vines. But since I started my own company, I rarely doodle.

14. What is the most serendipitous thing that has ever happened to you?

Having the internet become intensely engaged with a line from one of my poems, but attributing it to Frida Kahlo.

15. How did your biggest struggles become the pathways to your greatest success?

I don’t think my greatest success has happened yet.

16. What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

Make a glass of lemon water and drink it.

17. What do you wish you had more of in your life?

Time, and gluten-free licorice.

18. What do you find to be the most genuinely beautiful thing in the world?

Real listening.

19. If you could be free of one thought or fear, what would it be?

That I have to be in control.

20. If you had the chance to tell every single person in the world just one thing, what would it be?

Everything you’ve done and endured has served to bring you here, to this moment of infinite possibility. Let’s do better together.

Image: Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory

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