Sally Van Doren

PennSound Podcast #76

Photo of Sally Van Doren reading at the Kelly Writers House
Photo of Sally Van Doren reading at the Kelly Writers House


In this PennSound podcast, Sally Van Doren joins Al Filreis in the Wexler Studio at the Kelly Writers House for a discussion of her newest book, Sibilance (LSU Press, 2023)Van Doren reads aloud from her work, and the two discuss the practices of visual art and asemic writing that structure her life as an artist and inform her approach to poetry. 

Filreis guides the conversation by focusing on the book’s “meta-poetic” poems — poems that address Van Doren’s creative process and her ambivalent feelings about writing poetry. Van Doren’s meta-poetic poems are also concrete and physical: she discusses the way in which art-making interacts with daily habits, domestic life, and the physicality of arranging flowers, playing tennis, or “washing the lettuce.” Throughout Sibilance – a book whose poems are arranged alphabetically by title – Van Doren also addresses her mother’s memory loss, the death of parents, and the comforts and challenges of familial intimacy. 

Sally Van Doren is the author of four collections of poetry, all published by LSU Press. Alongside Sibilance (2023), her collections include Promise (2017), Possessive (2012), and Sex at Noon Taxes (2008), which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Van Doren is also a practicing visual artist and has had solo exhibitions at Furnace Art on Paper Archive and other venues. Originally from St. Louis , MO, she currently lives in West Cornwall, CT. She travelled to the Kelly Writers House to record this interview and give a reading of her poems (alongside Michelle Taransky) on November 15, 2023.