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Interview: Beth Cato on “My Ghost Will Know the Way”

What was the inspiration for “My Ghost Will Know the Way,” or what prompted you to write it?

I was reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s poetry. She had such a gift for bringing together memory and emotion and the natural world. I couldn’t help but be inspired, and I looked back on my own life for elements to draw upon. The words flowed from there.


Was this poem personal to you in any way?  If so, how?

The end result was quite personal, yes! I regard the poem as a fictionalized autobiography. It describes the very sort of thing I did as a child, and the facts align with my own life, down to the cats and my current distance to my hometown. The matter of magic and ghosts is the fictional element–presumably.


Beth CatoDo you find that writing poetry influences your work in prose?  How is writing a poem different or similar to writing a short story?

Poetry has taught me a great deal about storytelling in concise form. In theory, writers know that every word counts, but it’s easy to be lazy about those extra words when writing in long form. In a poem that’s maybe some thirty lines long, you can’t get away with superfluous words.

I tend to write the majority of my poems during April and November (I usually choose one month each year) when Writer’s Digest’s Poetic Asides Blog does its Poem-A-Day prompts. I also have a few bonus times a year when moods strike and I churn out several poems in the course of a day. That’s how “My Ghost Will Know the Way” came about. I read Le Guin, and then had three poems pour out of me in the next few hours. It’s marvelous when the Muse cooperates. That’s not often the case. Usually I need to bait a trap for it so I can make my monthly short story goal.


What are you working on now?

I’ve been working on two big projects and I continue to develop short stories and poems. I need to keep busy! I also bake a lot and share recipes on my Bready or Not food blog. If people are ever in need of a good cookie or bar recipe, I can hook them up at


“My Ghost Will Know the Way” appears in the July/August 2019 issue of F&SF.

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One Response to “Interview: Beth Cato on “My Ghost Will Know the Way””

  1. Interview with F&SF about my poem “My Ghost Will Know the Way” | on July 18th, 2019

    […] My poem “My Ghost Will Know the Way” is in the July/August issue of Fantasy & Science Fiction Magazine. (Allow me to pause and happily flail about that for the hundredth time.) I was recently interviewed about the inspiration behind the poem. Read that here! […]

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