Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Where Writers Write: Leah Umansky

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a weekly series that will feature a different author every Wednesday as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Leah Umansky. Her first book of poems, Domestic Uncertainties, is out now by BlazeVOX [Books.] She is a poet, a writer, a collage-artist, a teacher, a mad-men enthusiast and a concert-junkie. She is a contributing writer for BOMB Magazine’s BOMBLOG, a poetry reviewer for The Rumpus and a live twit for the Best American Poetry Blog. She also hosts and curates the COUPLET reading series in NYC. Read more at:

Where Leah Umansky Writes

I love reading about the life of writers. I always have, but seeing where they lived and where they wrote is the most exciting.   I’m one of those people who love to visit the homes of writers when I’m on vacation and one of my favorite parts of visiting London is actually roaming around the streets and looking for those blue plaques that indicate what famous author lived, or was born, in a certain house.  Next to visiting Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, my favorite writer’s house is naturally that of the Bronte Sisters at the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth, England

I’ve always been that person that rips things out of magazines, takes cards from restaurants and stores and quickly sticks it somewhere with a magnet or a thumb tack. (Both sides of my refrigerator are also much like this pegboard.) This is a photo of the pegboard that sits above my desk. It makes me happy to look up from my laptop and relive some of these memories.   I have photos of my sister and I, some of my best friends, my old cat from childhood, and old birthday cards.  One of my favorites is a photo I took of Jeanette Winterson, in Edinburgh, Scotland back in 2001 when I studied in London.  I I like surrounding myself with the things I love.  It makes sense that eventually I’d make start making real collages on paper, like the one on the cover of my first book of poems, Domestic Uncertainties.

This is a picture of some of the books I keep on my desk. I also have a stack on my night-table. They fluctuate between books I love to re-read, books I need to review, and books I use for inspiration.

Here’s a photo of my desk.  The chair is from an old schoolhouse that I found at a garage sale. It  has carvings from previous students in the wood.   I do all of my writing at my desk. I need a laptop. I take notes all the time in my notebooks (at readings, museums, on trips) but I always write at my desk on my laptop. I’m very old-school in that I love “real”  books, and I love annotating them.  When it comes to the actual writing process, I need to type. I like utilizing the whole “page” of the computer screen when I write a poem, which is tough to do elsewhere. I was a teenager when people began using email and the internet, and well, as a result, I’m a very fast typist. Sometimes my fingers move faster than my mind. 

I love my little british box. It’s perfect as I’ve filled it with my notebooks and my stationary.  The big red notebook in the back, is what I use in writing workshops and what I often take with me to readings.  I love the red moleskins the best.  Behind the box are my folders – my attempt at being organized – some of these folders are:  Book Two, Acceptances/Rejections, Prompts and Feedback.

I live in an old building with wall moldings and so I have a little bit of “shelf” above my desk and my memory board. Most are postcards I’ve received from my best friend, Louise, in London, and the middle one is a little painting a student of mine made me a few years ago with a Robert Frost quote.

I hope I always have a cat walking around my library; though, I’d barely call this a library.  I have two more legs of this bookcase in my parents’ garage, along with many books that I just don’t have the room for right now. All are waiting for a bigger home, but such is NYC living.   Most books, behind the horizontal stacks, are organized by author and genre.

My #bookdress (made by Joseph A.W Quintela -- hangs above my "library," and is made from five copies of my book. This gives me constant inspiration.

Check back next week to see where Scott Elliot writes. 


  1. I love this! And Leah, and her poetry, and now where she writes.

  2. Thanks Nin !! Yes, someday you'll come over.