Wayne Koestenbaum: Creativity in Isolation and After

May 12, 2020

By Gabrielle Colangelo

We asked poet, critic, and novelist Wayne Koestenbaum what he has been thinking about in this time of isolation and quarantine.  In response, he showed us his childhood Super-8 projector, and discussed why, in times when he doesn’t want to write, he makes mini-movies. 

Wayne compares movies to a series of concrete objects: band-aids, matches, spools of pink thread. Ultimately, a movie, though malleable, “never betrays its voyagers.”

FIND & FOLLOW Wayne Koestenbaum online, at his website, Instagram: @wayne.koestenbaum, and Twitter: @CampMarmalade 

READ Wayne’s new book, Figure it Out.

WATCH more of Wayne’s mini-movies.


Read about Wayne’s archives, recently acquired for the Beinecke as part of the Yale Collection of American Literature. 

Explore more of the Beinecke’s collection of movies, like the Solomon Sir Jones films, 29 silent black and white films documenting African-American communities in Oklahoma from 1924 to 1928.

Wayne quotes poet Susan Howe: “Say that a ballad/wrapped in a ballad.” Find her papers here.

Wayne says “a movie is like a match”. Explore some match-related items in the collections, like Charles Dickens’ matchbox , a photograph by poet Jonathan Williams of the Phillumeny collection of matchboxes, and the literary magazine Matchbook  published by Small Fires Press.

- Gabrielle Colangelo, Y’21

Yale Collection of American Literature Student Research Assistant