Issue 90: Elizabeth Tannen


About Elizabeth Tannen

Elizabeth Tannen is a writer, educator and fundraiser in Minneapolis. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of New Mexico and has published poems and essays in places like Copper Nickel, PANK, Salon, The Rumpus, Passages North and elsewhere. You can find more of her work at her website. She tweets on occasion at @TannenElizabeth.

A Profile of the Author

Notes on "Riddle, six weeks" and "Liz Phair, fifteen weeks"

I wound up writing a book’s worth of poems when I was pregnant, which I didn’t anticipate. I always knew I wanted to have a child, but I wasn’t attached to having one biologically (it just happened to be the easiest path for me, in the end) so I didn’t know anything about pregnancy and found myself completely astounded by its utter weirdness. I think there’s a fascinating tension between the common-ness of pregnancy (as well as birth and child-rearing) and also how completely wild and strange and miraculous they all are. I just couldn’t (can’t) get over it. Also, I’ve written very few poems since my son was born, and it’s not an issue of time because I have worked on essays. Maybe there’s something more lyric or poetic about a potential life than an actual one? (There is a line in Lydia Millet’s novel “The Children’s Bible” that gets at this but for the life of me I can’t find it, please help if you can!) 

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

  • Music: Becoming a parent, as “Liz Phair” references, can make you prone to erratic bouts of nostalgia–so in addition to the typical Raffi and Beatles and Peter Paul and Mary I’ve also been playing a lot of Joni Mitchell, Grateful Dead and James Taylor. My partner plays a lot of Leonard Cohen and Talking Heads. We both play a lot of classical. It’s the Jewish High Holidays and I’ve also been listening to the traditional melodies played in shul. (See nostalgia comment above.) Sidenote - a friend got me a copy of this songbook called Rise Up, Singing with lyrics to every song you’d ever want to sing to your child - big recommend! That was an extremely peripatetic response!

  • Food/Booze: Fall makes me want to chug apple cider or, on occasion, that absurdly delicious “chaider” hybrid drink that some fancy coffee shops seem to have. On the booze front, as I’ve gotten older I’m leaning more and more into spending some money on red wine that I actually like drinking. I recently schlepped my ten month old to a suburban Costco immediately following Rosh Hoshanah services to stock up (I usually just get a bottle or two at once) and I felt very adult and also very ridiculous and sketchy.

  • Kittens: I hate cats. (Sorry.) But I do have a shepard/retriever mix (actual genetic heritage unknown because we’re too cheap to find out) named Elsa. She is extremely sweet and tolerant of the baby’s constant (and I mean quite literally, constant) harassment but clearly would prefer it if he was removed from her life tomorrow. This weekend we’re having our first baby-free overnight so dropped him with my in-laws and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Elsa so happy as when we pulled out of their driveway without him! She’ll be in for a disappointment come Sunday…


Goat Cover

Two Poems by Elizabeth Tannen

Found in Willow Springs 90 Back to Author Profile Liz Phair, fifteen weeks   On the same morning I learn the fetus is developing folds that will become ears I also … Read more

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