Tiny Talks with Jennifer MacBain-Stephens and Sarah Lilius

Tiny Talks are interviews between our editors and contributors. It is just another way Tiny Spoon is growing through community support. We will be sending all contributors from our issues these carefully curated questions.

TS: What called you to collaborate and what was that process like? 

Jenny: Sarah and I first started writing poems together at the Porches: a writing retreat in Virginia in response to the Trump Presidency. This past year, as I went through some employment ups and downs, writing 1-2 lines and then sending them to Sarah and waiting for her response–was one of the few ways I found I could be creative.

Sarah: I think it’s interesting to create art with another writer, to bounce ideas off of each other and make a final piece. The process is enlightening to learn more about yourself and the other writer.

TS: Why do you create? 

Jenny: I feel like I have always written as a form of self-expression. It helps me express emotions that maybe I cannot analyze right away.

Sarah:  It fulfills something in me that I want to share with the world. I write because I can’t not write.

TS: Where do you find most of your inspiration?

Jenny: I notice that I find inspiration when I travel to a new place and see new things and also and Always in art museums and galleries. I also found that I love being in a new place by myself where I can hear my thoughts. That quiet time is such a luxury.

Sarah: I find inspiration in the mundane aspects of life, current events, and sometimes in television shows or books I’m reading.

TS: What is your dream project?

Jenny: One project I have in my head is a future collage project with photos or drawings of rocks and poems imprinted over the rock images. I have created one collage project so far and I really love it!

Sarah: Maybe a book of photographs with poems that go with them.

(Note: Sarah and I came up with this answer separately- but now we are really excited to explore this creative idea together!)

TS: Do you have any current projects that you are working on that you would like to share? 

Jenny: Sarah and I are writing poems where the titles are body parts. We are very open with our flow in what comes and goes into the lines. 

Sarah: I look forward to continue working on the body poems project with Jenny MacBain-Stephens and now we have a future photo/poem project in the planning.

TS: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others? 

Jenny: I recently fell in love with the band Of Monsters and Men. And I just began “Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape” by Lauret Savoy, and I am loving it.  I am curious and interested in how humans interact with any sort of landscape and how does it change them?

Sarah:  I just finished OBIT by Victoria Chang and I definitely recommend it.

TS: Is there anything else you would like others to know about you, your creations, or beyond?

Jenny:  I am more and more interested in visual creations with words. I enjoy making hybrid works. My most recent chapbook is from Ethel Press called “Lying Travel Notes from the Desert,” (poems inspired by a trip out west,) and I am working on a full length poetry collection called “Pool Parties.”

Sarah: My first full-length book of poetry was published this summer. It’s called Dirty Words by Indie Blu(e) Publishing, which you can purchase on Amazon.

TS: Where can people learn more about what you do? 

Jenny: insta: @jennycmacb

You can find my work listed here! https://jennifermacbainstephens.com/

Sarah: my website is: sarahlilius.com

twitter: @slilius


Jennifer MacBain-Stephens (she/her) went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she is landlocked. She is the author of four poetry collections and fifteen chapbooks and enjoys exploring how to blend creativity with nurturing the earth. Recent work appeared in The Westchester Review, Cleaver, Dream Pop, and Grist. She also hosts a free, monthly reading series sponsored by Iowa City Poetry called Today You Are Perfect. Find her at http://jennifermacbainstephens.com/.

Sarah Lilius (she/her) is the author of five poetry chapbooks, including GIRL (dancing girl press, 2017) and Traffic Girl (Ghost City Press, 2020). A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her poetry appears or is forthcoming in the Massachusetts Review, New South, Boulevard, Fourteen Hills, Court Green, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her first full length collection, Dirty Words is now available for purchase. Her website can be found at sarahlilius.com.