Polly Buckingham’s collection The Expense of a View won the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction.
Her chapbook A Year of Silence won the Jeanne Leiby Memorial Chapbook Award for Fiction (2014), and she was the recipient of a 2014 Washington State Artists Trust fellowship.
Her work appears in The Gettysburg Review, The Threepenny Review, Hanging Loose, Witness, North American Review, The Moth, New Orleans Review, Poetry Daily and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Polly Buckingham is founding editor of StringTown Press. She teaches creative writing at Eastern Washington University and is associate director of Willow Springs Books, Eastern’s student run literary press.
As a poet and fiction writer, I am more interested in what is unknown than what is known. I value mystery above empiricism. This notion is a political one in that it rejects the dominant culture’s need for data and facts and instead values magical thinking and the messiness of what it means to be human. My stories explore the psychological, the spiritual, and the natural worlds because these are the areas where mystery resides. My fiction is driven less by plot and more by images, patterns, and characters. My characters are typically deeply introspective, often rural and often under great psychological duress or up against enormous changes in their lives. They find themselves lost, disoriented, and unclear about what is real and what is not. My intent is to push readers to value those moments of hesitation so that they too might slow down and appreciate the world for its greatest mysteries: the dream world, the natural world, and the world of the psyche. The title of my most recent collection of stories, What the Dead Know, exemplifies the way in which I find solace in the unknown.
I am influenced by deep image and surrealist poets such as Pablo Neruda, Marosa DiGiorgio, Laura Kasischke, Robert Bly, Jean Valentine and Tomas Transtromer for their ability to pull the world of order out from under our feet and push us to feel our way through the poem instead of think our way through it. In fiction, I am drawn to the speculative and the experimental as well as to writers who have a strong sense of region and of the natural world: John Cheever, Alice Munro, Joy Williams, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, William Faulkner, Jose Saramago, Jeannette Winterson, Muriel Spark, and Kevin McIlvoy.