• Q&A With WriteByNight Coach Natalya Sukhonos


    Hailing from Odessa, Ukraine, Natalya Sukhonos (Albany, New York) is bilingual in Russian and English. She also speaks Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Natalya has a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. She is Assistant Professor at the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Zayed University. Natalya’s poems are published by the Naugatuck River Review; the American Journal of Poetry; Haight Ashbury Literary Review; Saint Ann’s Review; Driftwood Press; Literary Mama; and other journals. Her first book, Parachute, was published by Aldrich Press of Kelsay Books. A Stranger Home was published by Moon Pie Press in 2020. Two of Natalya’s poems had been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. You can find out more about her work on natalyasukhonos.com.



    Where are you from?

    I’m from Odessa, Ukraine, and grew up in New York City. I’ve also lived in New Haven, Boston, San Francisco, Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, and Upstate New York.


    Where did you study?

    I have a PhD from Harvard in Comparative Literature.


    How did you get your start as a writer?

    I’ve always been fascinated with literature, and have been a compulsive reader. When I was in high school, I would write these surreal prose poems that were great at setting up a mysterious atmosphere but wouldn’t really go anywhere. I started writing seriously when I was living in San Francisco and had my first baby; something about that experience really made me want to define myself as a poet. A similar thing happened when I lost my mother in 2017 and a whole book of poems came out of my grief.


    Who are some of your influences?

    I’m obsessed with Mark Strand and his spare Buddhist aesthetic; I also love Jack Gilbert and the tight way he talks about pain. Because of where I grew up, I am influenced by international Modernist poetry from early Soviet Russia, in particular, the soundscapes and playfulness of Pasternak and Khlebnikov.


    What is your favorite thing about educating writers at WBN?

    I’m excited about helping writers read their work from a different perspective and find interesting small details to work on. I’m also excited to get to know a variety of interesting people through their writing.


    What is the hardest part of writing for you?

    Having a routine. I have two small kids and it’s hard to write at the same time every day. But thankfully, I have a writing group that gets me going and I enjoy writing in the early morning sometimes, when the world is barely torn its veil of fears and dreams and is full of possibilities. I also have a notepad with me where I jot down curious things I’ve heard or read throughout the day.


    Word association: Literature.

    Fire. Thirst. Bread. Wilderness. Faces and broken light.


    What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?

    I loved Tessa Hadley’s Clever Girl, and how the protagonist’s strong stoic female voice takes the reader on a labyrinthine journey of self-discovery and disappointment and yearning. I loved the strangeness of some of the phrases that end her revelations. For example, in describing a man she is infatuated with, Stella says that “each of us wanted the other to be the darkness, listening.”


    Interested in working with Natalya? Request a free consult now