Contributor Interview

Claire Patzner

Nova Classical High School

St. Paul, MN

UNL: Tell us a little more about yourself. When did you first start writing? Why and how is writing important to you?

CP: I started writing as soon as I could. I wrote stories when I was in kindergarten about horses and rabbits. When I was in elementary school I began writing poetry and entering poetry slams and competitions. However, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school when I began writing meaningful pieces which reflected on the trauma which I had heavily experienced in the past years of my life. Writing is the way that I have positively released many of my emotions in an art form that can be viewed by and possibly help others.


UNL: Would you mind sharing how the pieces you wrote came into being? What was your process like for creating it? How do you determine what is important to write about?

CP: I often spend time alone and reflecting on events in my life. Then an idea for a poem or a narrative will pop up, and I’ll go from there. I’ll spend all day thinking of ways to weave metaphors and rhetorical devices into the piece and I’ll often daydream during physics class on how I want to lay out my writing. Then as soon as I get home, I’ll sit at my white desk with my cat in my lap and I’ll write. I’ll leave the piece aside for a few days and most of the time I hate the piece and I never really look at it again. Other times I really love the piece and I’ll edit it and see what I can further add to it to make it more meaningful. I am a firm believer in the fact that meaningful writing must make the reader feel something and if the reader isn’t feeling any emotions, the writer hasn’t done their job right. So overall, I have my sister or my friends critique my writing and if they don’t feel anything, then I must try again.


UNL: Do you have a favorite place to write?

CP: I enjoy writing anywhere outdoors where the sun is shining and I wrote many of these works when I was on a camping trip through the national parks. However, I truly am able to write in any setting, and it’s more important the mood I am in. To write anything truly impactful I must be feeling strong emotions.


UNL: How has the Northland area affected how you write or what you write about?

CP: I grew up surrounded by lakes and nature and I often write about the natural world around me. My environment has had a clear impact on what I write about. I love nature and often visit the national parks and go camping and through careful observation of the world around me I am able to create beautiful pieces of writing.


UNL: What you do you plan on pursuing after school? Have you thought of what your next steps will be? If so, how will writing factor into these next steps?

CP: I plan on pursuing a journalism or creative writing degree alongside a biology degree. Writing is very important in the field of journalism and creative writing so I will without a doubt be using my writing skills heavily in college.


UNL: Would you mind sharing what you’re currently reading?

CP: I’m currently reading The Annie Dillard Reader, which contains many of Annie Dillard’s narratives and short stories.


UNL: Do you have any reading recommendations or advice for aspiring student writers in the upper Midwest?

CP: I recommend The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, any poetry by e.e. Cummings, and any writing by Annie Dillard or Jane Austen. As for writing advice, I recommend simply writing every day and everywhere. Buy a journal and a nice pen and carry it with you everywhere you go. Writing is an art that takes practice, and the more you write, the better you will become at it.


UNL: Where can we go to read more of your work? Anything else you’d like to share with us?

CP: Aside from in my own personal journal, I don’t have my writing located anywhere else. This is my first time being published, but I hope to publish much more of my poetry and prose when I graduate from high school and continue writing in college.


Claire Patzner

grew up with a love for reading and journaling and spent most of her childhood summer days at the library. After dealing with great family trauma, she turned to writing as an outlet for my grievances. She writes about her study abroad trip to Japan, her cats, her identity and the knowledge she gains from her experiences. Writing has become her biggest passion in life and she plans to go to college to study it further.