Margaret Yapp Just Released This Beautiful Book of Poetry And We Should All Buy It

poet margaret yapp

I have two favorite Midwestern writers: One is the Wisconsin-born Thornton Wilder, who is dead, but whose The Bridge of San Luis Rey you should read immediately. The other is the Iowa City poet and artist Margaret Yapp, who has quite wonderfully just released her debut book of poetry, Green for Luck. Here’s some more info about it, as well as a calendar of her upcoming readings — if you’re in one of the cities she’ll be visiting, do not hesitate to attend. Margaret is the best poetry reader, and I swear it will be time well spent. I was just at one of her readings on Friday, and almost started surreptitiously recording it on my phone, it was that good, before deciding that surreptitiously recording anything on a phone is creepy.

I am so happy to know Margaret – who, as I say below, is the coolest person I know in all of Iowa (and likely many of the surrounding states as well). I am also extremely delighted that she took time out of her launch week to answer my questions, below. I think poetry can be a bit of a hard sell sometimes, but I truly and heartily recommend this book, which is funny and wise and extremely alive. Is there anything cooler than reading a book of poetry on a bench under the May sunshine? Obviously there is not. My top suggestion: Buy the book, and read the poem about fields! It’s my favorite! You will not regret it!

green for luck cover

How does one read a book of poems, especially for those of us who don’t read a lot of poetry?
Don’t worry about understanding anything, don’t worry about plot, don’t worry about narrative. Put those goals out of your mind. Do you feel the need to understand a song in order to enjoy it? Probably not. I think reading poetry is more like listening to music or looking at visual art than like reading prose. I’m a really slow reader and when I read a book of poems, I often read each poem multiple times before I move onto the next one. Ultimately, though, poetry is entertainment. So if you don’t like a particular book of poems, find another one. Just because you don’t like one type of music doesn’t mean you don’t like other types…there are infinite styles of poetry, and I think every reader can find poetry they enjoy. 

What’s your favorite poem written by a woman before 1950?
This is slightly cheesy, but my great grandma Jane wrote amazing poems. I have them scanned somewhere but the physical copies got lost in the shuffle when my grandma Jo passed away in late 2022. I hope to find them again, but until then I repeat the lines I remember in my head.  

margaret yapp poem

You’re described on the Barnes and Noble website as “American midwestern poet” Margaret Yapp. Is that a fair assessment? Is there something in your work that feels particularly Midwestern to you?
My friend Alana Solin (amazing poet and artist) and I joke that as soon as someone refers to us as “minor American poets” then we’ll know we’ve made it. 

But I think AI wrote that bio! I’ve never described myself that way. I found it funny and weirdly affirming. I’ve only ever lived in Iowa and Minnesota, so that obviously seeps into my life and therefore my writing, even if I don’t know exactly how. The most direct source of midwestern-ness in my writing is probably from just copying down what my friends and family say. And of course, any literal place I’m writing about is probably in the midwest, so: plant life, geology, animals – all of that enters the writing both directly and indirectly.

What’s it like attending the world’s best MFA poetry program in your own hometown?
I hadn’t lived here for nine years when I moved back for the poetry program, and ended up living like four blocks from where I grew up. I would walk through my elementary school playground to get to workshop every week. I’m already default sentimental, and flinging myself into writing poems while back in my hometown…lots of nostalgia. But I got used to being back, and my hometown was ultimately the perfect place to do an MFA program. Proximity to my family and old friends kept me anchored to something beyond writing, and that was really good for me.  

You’re the coolest person I know in Iowa City. What do you think is the coolest thing about Iowa?
I don’t think Iowa is necessarily cool, but I also don’t think it’s boring. I’m really happy to be living in Iowa City. For people interested in writing/reading/books, this is a fantastic place to be. There’s a lot going on and a million events a week and I’ve met so many amazing poets, writers, artists, musicians, publishers, etc since moving back. And obviously my family and old friends are here, and I’ve made a lot of new friends — so I enjoy myself! I don’t know if I’ll stay in Iowa City forever, but I’d be very happy to. Midwest for sure. 

Do you have a favorite song lyric?
I have a rotating cast of Fiona Apple lines.

What poem in your collection do you love most?
Like any good mother, I don’t have a favorite! I feel most embarrassed by the oldest poems in the collection (the sexy ones) simply because they aren’t how I write anymore, and aren’t what I’m interested in writing about anymore (though recently I’ve been writing sex poems again hehe). I feel most excited by the newest ones (“C”, “MY CHIPPED TOOTH FEELS GOOD LIKE”, and “WORLD ANGEL LOGISTICS”). I also love the “GLACIAL ERRATICS” poems and am excited to read them out loud at readings, they’re really fun to perform. I hope that eventually I’ll feel vaguely embarrassed by all of the poems in this book because that will mean I’m getting better.

What should we buy from your shop?
I printed myself a broadside of my poem “THE LIST OF FIELDS” which is the opening poem of Green for Luck. Available on my webshop!


Sign up for the Faraway Places newsletter!

My weekly newsletter shares the best things I've found from around the world (mostly in France). It always includes a free, downloadable map of a lovely city from around the world (like this one).

Filed under: interviews


Avatar for Diana

Hi, I'm Diana. I've written about travel for The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, The Cut, Travel + Leisure, Outside, and lots of other places. This is my blog.