Helen Chandler


When did you first feel like a writer?

Sometimes I still don’t! Imposter syndrome never quits. But I probably first started feeling like a writer—not someone who just writes sometimes—in college, when I was realizing that writing would be a lifelong pursuit for me. 

What's your philosophy about teaching a writing class?

As I continue to learn, my philosophy will continue to evolve, but at the moment I think the magic of a writing class depends so much on everyone in the room feeling safe, uninhibited, and valued. So my goal as a workshop instructor is to create a sense of collaborative intimacy among the participants. I don’t expect anyone to become lifelong friends, or to even share other aspects of their lives with one another if they don’t want to or don’t have the bandwidth. But if everyone feels able and willing to bring their full self to the classroom (virtual or otherwise) we can share an experience that feels a little less numb, a little more true.

If you could meet any fictional character, who would it be and why?

Maybe Orual from Till We Have Faces. It’s one of my favorite novels, and I would want to talk to her endlessly about how she came to terms with not knowing what she saw, which ultimately means not knowing anything for sure.


Joanna Currey is from Virginia. She holds an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt University, and previously earned her BA in English and Poetry Writing from the University of Virginia where she wrote mostly about plants, bodies, family, and religion. Joanna’s writing has appeared in Presence: a Journal of Catholic Poetry, Nashville Review, Nimrod International Journal, and Alaska Quarterly Review.


“Joanna did a beautiful job of setting the tone for the class as a welcoming, intimate, caring place.” 

“Joanna was a great instructor. She helped us navigate the Zoom awkwardness and sent helpful emails with specific course instructions.” 

“She gave such carefully considered feedback and really took the time to talk about how our poems were working, and what she felt they were communicating.” 

“She directed discussion well, came up with great writing prompts and facilitated a safe space for sharing your work.”