Introducing #MWW24 Faculty Lylanne Musselman

Meet Lylanne Musselman

Lylanne Musselman is an award-winning poet, playwright, and visual artist. Her work has appeared in Pank, The New Verse News, Flying Island, Rose Quartz Magazine, Last Stanza Poetry Journal, and The Ekphrastic Review, among others. Recently, one of her poems was selected as the featured poem in Tipton Poetry Journal, Issue # 48 Spring 2021. Musselman’s work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Indianapolis Anthology (Belt Publishing, 2021). She is the author of six chapbooks, including Paparazzi for the Birds (Red Mare 16, 2018) and is the co-author of Company of Women: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013), and is the author of the full-length poetry collection, It’s Not Love, Unfortunately (Chatter House Press, 2018). Musselman is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poems are included in the Inverse Poetry Archive, a collection of Hoosier poets, housed at the Indiana State Library. Musselman is currently working on several chapbooks and a new manuscript.

Lylanne will be teaching “The Ability to Stop Time – the Power of Poetry as Narrative” and “Have an Ekphrastic Experience” and participating in the panel, “Tuning Out the Noise.” She is also a member of the manuscript evaluation team.

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Q&A with Lylanne

I have a soft spot for Lylanne Musselman! We’ve worked on projects together and I owe her a great deal – in fact, she’s the reason I became involved with MWW! Her poetry is powerful, whimsical, nostalgic, and funny, and she is a seasoned instructor. She’s also an impressive artist! Just try to keep track of all the things she’s doing at any one time and you’ll get dizzy! I’m delighted to have her as part of our team – as Secretary of the board and as #MWW24 faculty.

Without further ado, here’s the interview!


MWW: I’m excited about your session on prose poetry. Is this medium simply a marriage between prose and poetry? Could I take a paragraph I’ve written as prose and turn it into a poem? I find myself wondering if it lends itself more to prose writers than to poets, or is there an even divide?

LM: The session on prose poetry will be fun! Prose poetry is not always embraced by some diehard poets, but as time goes on and more and more of it is getting published, it’s becoming much more “acceptable” in the poetry community. I think prose writers who think they can’t write poems or feel they aren’t interested in poetry, might be surprised at what they can do with this form. On the other hand, some poets, even if they accept that prose poems are an acceptable form of poetry, may find that they just “can’t write” a prose poem because they feel they need those line breaks and stanzas. Certainly, you can consider prose poems as a playful union between prose and poetry. After all, what makes a poem a poem? Line breaks, stanzas, imagery, exciting word choices, and cadence. So, as long as you take your paragraph, and make sure it has great imagery, interesting word choices, and has good cadence – you could consider it one big stanza…or a prose poem. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, and that’s why you should sit in on my prose poem session.

MWW: You are certainly a prolific poet and artist! What are some of the techniques you use to get to the page and generate words?

LM: As a writing instructor for the past 18 years, I sneak in writing when I give students prompts or a writing assignment. When I’m not in the classroom, I carve out at least 10 minutes a day to write something – even if it’s a list of ideas that I want to write about – and that keeps the writing coming. I love prompts and have generated quite a few of my own just by observations, but I also love some prompts from creative writing textbooks that I have on hand; those also can keep me writing if I don’t have any idea what to write about when I sit down to write a new poem. Also, I highly recommend finding a small writing group of maybe three to six people, that you trust and make dates each month to meet up and share new work. I’m lucky enough to have several writing groups that I engage in regularly and that also keeps the writing flowing as who wants to show up without something new to share and get honest critique! I do paint and am lucky enough to get into juried shows and as much as I say I’m going to, I rarely combine the two talents. This year is the year I swear I’m going to finally do it – and we’ll see.

MWW: I enjoy visual art but I don’t feel qualified to analyze it, necessarily. How can someone without much experience with visual art engage with and produce ekphrastic poetry?

LM: I love ekphrastic poetry, and I guess I do have an edge since I’ve been involved with the visual arts since high school, which was many, many years ago. Nevertheless, one does not have to know about composition, values, or even who the artist is to write ekphrastic poetry. Everyone has thoughts and opinions, and everyone has emotions, so that’s always a good way to get into writing about a painting – by asking questions such as what is this painting about? Why am I drawn to it? Why do I dislike it? Or of the artist, why did you choose this subject? How did you feel while painting this? As writers, we know how to take off from there. In ekphrastic writing, I have a set of questions and prompts to engage students of all levels, even those who’ve never even heard of it before.

MWW: Who are some authors who have influenced and/or inspired you?

LM: Frank O’Hara has always been a big influence on me – his “I do this/I do that” poems appeal to me and you may recognize that in a lot of my poems.

Mary Oliver is someone who I love for her nature poems. Also, she wrote about her dogs, I write about my cats. Although Kurt Vonnegut is not a poet, he’s one of my all-time favorite authors and even though I don’t always intend to write humorously, I find that my dark and sometimes sarcastic humor will shine through in my work.

Lylanne’s Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 13th at the Grand Lake Area Literature Festival in Celina, Ohio: Lylanne will be reading from her poetry chapbook, Staring Dementia in the Face, as well as taking part on a panel about writing for adults

Monday, April 22nd at Grand Brook Memory Care of Greenwood Lylanne will be reading from that same chapbook

Monday April 29th Lylanne will be a featured reader at the Artsgarden in Indianapolis

Tuesday July 23rd at Poets Laureate of Lawrence at the Arts for Lawrence she will read from Marriage Maps and Driven Destinies, a collection of poems by Mary Sexson and Lylanne.

Join us for #MWW24!

We’ve put together a broad range of workshops led by top-notch faculty so that you can reach new heights with your writing alongside brilliant writers from the Midwest and beyond!

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