Stanley Kusunoki

Stanley Kusunoki is the author of three collections of poetry; 180 Days, Reflections and Observations of a Teacher, Items in the News, both published by North Star Press of St. Cloud, and Shelter in Place-Poems in a Time of COVID-19, (Polaris Press, an imprint of North Star Press). He has taught creative writing to young people through programs at The Loft, and elsewhere.
  1. Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write this story? 
    Shelter in Place--Poems in a Time of COVID - 19, started out as my way of journaling the experience of the first COVID shutdown. I was a teacher at the time, and so I documented the effect the shutdown had on teaching and learning, and just the daily routines we developed to keep mind and body together. When Governor Walz issued the soft opening on May 18, 2020, I realized I had enough for a manuscript!

  2. Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?   
    Well I have it easier than novelists...I do look up articles and other documents if I am writing about a specific incident like the murder of George Floyd, but otherwise everything is a product of my experience or imagination. I guess you could say, my research is being as aware as I can, to what is going on around me, and letting it settle into a place where I can ruminate on the event or topic. The hardest part of the writing process is editing --in poetry, finding the right word can be agonizing. Also, letting some poems go for another time is difficult---like being a teacher and having to tell a student they did not pass...

  3.  Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
    Oh gosh, do you have a day or two for this? I think I digest something of just about anyone I read. Yes, there are some special stand-outs: David Mura, Carolyn Holbrook and Margaret Hasse have been great mentors and supporters. Mary Jo Thompson gave me huge pushes in my writing development and in my becoming a teacher. (She also is my wonderful, "tough love" editor!). Of course, my wife, Claudia Daly is my first editor, advisor, and cheerleader--she really does keep my going! I host a reading series, Literary Bridges, and my co-host/curator, Donna Isaac has also been a tremendous supporter. Shall I go on? Suffice to say the Twin Cities has an incredible community of writers, and I am lucky to count many of them as friends, cajolers, and muses.

  4. What inspired you to start writing? What is your favorite place to go for inspiration and/or your favorite place to write?
    Well I was a real dweeby nerd, (perhaps still am?) and so not being a jock, or "Mr. Popular", I found that a way to attract a girl's attention was with a well-turned (well-timed) piece of poetry. Since then, I find inspiration in events of the day, conversations, being in the world... A favorite place to write? I guess on the North Shore of Lake Superior---we have friends who have a condo in Grand Marais, and I love sitting on the rocks and taking the time with no distractions--the Lake itself is a muse!

  5. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time? 
    When I am not writing, I am usually noodling with my guitar---I do a weekly livestream on Facebook and it really does take time to prepare for that. Otherwise, I putter in my garden, take photographs--spend way too much time on social media.

  6. Favorite place to visit in Minnesota?
    Wow...well Grand Marais, Duluth, or any place I can get close to Lake Superior ; we live by Como Park and there is a lovely Labyrinth we love to walk---I should list that as one of my inspiration places!; I love music, and the place that has really done well with COVID precautions is Crooners--For a while it was the only venue we would go to. Our "go to" restaurant is Monte Carlo in Minneapolis, for preserving that old school vibe. And bookstores! My homebase, Next Chapter Booksellers, Birchbark Books, Eat My Words, Subtext, Irreverent Bookworm, Red Balloon and Wild Rumpus are my favorites, but not exclusive!

  7. Where can readers find you online? 
    Facebook: @Stanley_Kusunoki