Contributor Spotlight: Laurie Saurborn

headshot of Laurie Saurborn

Laurie Saurborn’s hybrid piece “Visions of a Failed Ballerina” is part of the forthcoming Issue 77 of Bellingham Review. Check back on November 15th to read it alongside the rest of our new issue. 

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

“Visions of a Failed Ballerina” is one of a series of hybrid pieces I began writing as a way to explore the connections between image and text in general, and more particularly between photography and creative writing. Working in multiple genres does allow a special freedom, in that there is always another project to focus on if one has temporarily (or permanently) stalled. I wasn’t looking for a relationship to develop between the two. It just evolved. That’s not to say there weren’t tears and sweat involved, as well as a fair bit of confusion, as I made a way towards seeing the story and how the images (and my reading life) integrated within its overall being.

Tell us about your writing life.

As soon as I was able to, I started writing. What’s kept me writing is the inability to shake it off, and my continual interest in deconstructing and reconstructing the world on the page. People, motivations for action, control, and the natural world are themes and areas which I habitually return to and pull from, although not always directly. In terms of how I’ve changed as a writer, I think I’m much more certain about the necessity of writing in my life, how precious it is, and how vital it is to my sanity, outcomes be damned.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

Birds in all seasons. How people live from day to day. Health and illness. The weather and landscape. Aging. Geography. How people do or don’t look at one another. Museums, always. What people do and don’t say to one another.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

General writing advice: No matter what, just keep writing. Buddhist advice: Have no expectations.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writers?

A hard question! Off the top of my head, here are three:

Novel: Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire
Poetry: Robert Penn Warren, Audubon: A Vision
Nonfiction: Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story

What are you reading right now?

Since I’m in school (see below), my reading life has taken a direct hit due to the likes of pathophysiology, adult health, and nursing theory, but I am reading Mickela Sonola’s wonderful new book, Dead Dogs and Angels. Also Yoko Ono’s Acorn, when I need to re-introduce the idea of space into my brain. Music-wise, I’m listening to Iberian Garden, a grouping of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim music from Medieval Spain.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

Currently, I’m working on a collection of short stories, another hybrid text-photo piece, and a new group of poems.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I’m studying to be a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner with a specialization in aging. It’s a whole other world, challenging, stimulating, exhilarating, and one of which I’m proud to be a part. I loved teaching undergraduate creative writers at UT Austin, and I miss my students and the creative energy of the classroom space. Given our political, social, and healthcare situations nationally and globally, I felt I needed to deepen my training so that I can be of service where it’s needed most. Teaching gave me the courage to move forward with this goal.

Where can our readers connect with you online? and

LAURIE SAURBORN is the author of two poetry collections, Industry of Brief Distraction and Carnavoria, and a chapbook, Patriot. An NEA Creative Writing Fellowship recipient, her work has appeared in publications such as jubilat, storySouth, The Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, The Rumpus, and Tupelo Quarterly. Previously, she taught creative writing at UT Austin, where she directed the undergraduate creative writing program. Currently, she is pursuing a graduate degree in psychiatric mental health nursing at Ohio State. Find her at

Featured Image: “Castell Coch” by Phil Beard