Clara Mae Barnhart


Clara Mae Barnhart

Clara Mae Barnhart is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Binghamton University where she was the recipient of the Samuel Newhouse Foundation Award for poetry. She is the Director of the Binghamton Poetry Project and the Literati Reading Series. Recently she won an Academy of American Poet’s College Prize and was nominated for an AWP Intro Award. Some of her recent work is forthcoming in The Comstock Review and Negative Capability Journal. Some of her experience outside the literary world includes working with at-risk teens in residential settings, working as a farmhand, a grocery stocker, a park maintenance worker, and a clerk of every kind. She lives in Binghamton, NY with her loves: Eric, Ellie, Angelo, and Duke.

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What’s on your nightstand right now?

Treat Us Like Dogs And We Will Become Wolves, by Carolyn Chute, and Evicted: Poverty and Profit in The American City, by Matthew Desmond.

Print or e-book?

I will always choose a print book, there is nothing like thumbing through pages. I also think that opening the cover to read the first page and closing it after finishing the last gives a much more satisfying sense of a beginning and an ending. Plus, I have a thing for bookmarks.

Tell us about your favorite bookstores.

My favorite bookstores are The Crow, in Burlington, VT, and RiverRead Books in Binghamton, NY. Both stores offer a wide selection with plenty of quirky surprises, large sunny windows, and a cozy atmosphere that invites you to take your time and peruse.

What book made the biggest impression on you as a kid?

As a child I loved The Storm Book, by Charlotte Zolotow. It is a picture book with illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham. I remember so vividly being transported into fields under thunderheads with a dog by my side, and on into a city, caught in a downpour, dodging umbrellas with a newspaper held over my head. I think it made such an impression because it was one of my first experiences of being taken away by words and images; being fully immersed and not just entertained.