Annie Lighthart started writing poetry after her first visit to an Oregon old-growth forest. Iron String, her first poetry collection, was published in 2013. Her poetry has been read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac and chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye to be placed in Ireland’s Galway University Hospitals. Annie has taught at Boston College, as a poet in the schools, and currently with Portland’s Mountain Writers. She lives in a small green corner of Oregon.
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What’s on your nightstand right now?
I have three books next to my bed just now: Jane Hirshfield’s Ten Windows, Scot Siegel’s new book The Constellation of Extinct Stars, and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, which is so big and taking me so long to read that it practically is my nightstand—I have to put the lamp on top of it. All of them are such good reads that they keep me awake at night instead of lulling me to sleep. Now that I think of it, I ought to find three different books—
What book made the biggest impression on you as a kid?
Six books, actually: six big green books that were my father’s when he was a child. They were called The Book House Books and progressed from nursery rhymes to fairy tales to epics with beautiful illustrations. Their pages were cream colored—they seemed very old and wonderfully strange. They were heavy and I handled them differently than other books because they seemed to have a history and power of their own.
Besides writing, what’s your passion?
I have what I think of as an inept passion: learning the names of trees and other plants. I am terrible at it—my memory is like a sieve—but I love it. It’s a passion that started very quietly and randomly in my garden, and grew like a hunger when I walked through the woods and realized that I could only identify the big and obvious trees. The mosses and ferns curling everywhere were mysterious, as were the tiny flowers under my feet. I’m still only really certain of your basic redwood, birch, maple, and Douglas fir, but I love the education.