Contributor Spotlight: Linda Hillringhouse

The poems “Amor Fati,” “Son of Sam,” and “At the Barcelona Zoo” by Linda Hillringhouse were published in our Spring ’16 Issue and can be read here.

Tell us a little about “Son of Sam.”

In the late 1970s, I was teaching writing courses to cops in New York City when David Berkowitz, “Son of Sam,” the infamous serial killer, was active in New York. My “cop-students” would give me safety advice and tell me about their progress on the case, and I knew when they caught him before it hit the papers. I read an article about Berkowitz last year and found myself trying to imagine his interior life at the time of the shootings, which is what led me to the poem.

What was the most difficult thing about writing “Son of Sam”?

Once I entered the poem, I felt claustrophobic – almost as if I would  “keep descending” into the poem and never get out.

Recommend a book for us which was published within the last decade.

Hands down, it has to be Edward Hirsch’s Gabriel, a book-length elegy on the death of his son. It’s one of the most powerful poems I’ve ever read.

If you could have a drink with any living author, who would it be?

I’ll stick with Edward Hirsch. I heard him read recently, and I was struck by his humility and vulnerability. He stood at the podium as himself, not as a version of a “famous poet.” And he had a great sense of humor. Having a drink with him, I think there’d be a lot of laughs and a lot of realness. You can’t beat that combo at a bar!

What are you working on now? What’s next?

I’m working on two poetry manuscripts — one of personal narrative poems, the other, non-narrative. In addition, I’m preparing a book of my poems and painting (I’m a self-taught artist), which is being published by Cat in the Sun Press in 2016.

Our thanks to Linda for taking the time to answer a few questions and share her work. Read her poems, “Son of Sam, “Amor Fati,” and “At the Barcelona Zoo” here:


Linda Hillringhouse holds an MFA from Columbia University. She was a first-place winner of the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award (2014) and the second-place winner of Nimrod’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry (2012). She has received fellowships from the Macdowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has appeared inPrairie Schooner, The Paterson Literary Review, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, and elsewhere.