Q&A with poet Erica Goss

Take a peek into the mind of Erica Goss, former Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, California and winner of the Zocalo Poetry Prize! Erica was born in Germany and grew up all over California with parents who encouraged her writing from an early age. She draws inspiration from her hobbies, such as gardening and exploring museums. She’s also passionate about raising awareness of mental health and mental illness, particularly through sharing stories and memoirs from people who have experienced mental health issues firsthand. 

Q: Where are you from and where did you grow up?

I was born in Tübingen, a town in Germany, to a German mother and an American father. Tübingen is a bit like Eugene: a university town built on a river, where the arts are an important part of daily life.

 A few months after I was born, my parents moved to Los Angeles, which is about as different from Tübingen as a place can be. I grew up all over California, from Los Angeles to the Mojave Desert to the Bay Area to the Sonoma County wine country. 

As an adult, I settled in the Bay Area and lived there for over thirty years before moving to Eugene in 2017. 

Living in so many different places along the West Coast has given me a unique appreciation for its diversity, which can be seen in my writing.

Q: What are some of your hobbies?

I have too many hobbies, but the most enduring one is gardening. I love planting things and watching them grow. I love digging in the soil, and quite a few of my poems are about this activity. Eugene is a gardener’s paradise—most things grow well here, and the abundant rain is good thing. Here’s a poem I wrote called “Mulch.

 Another favorite pastime is spending time in museums, looking at art. I’ve written quite a lot about this, and I have an essay, “Make Something Happen: Museums as Inspiration,that explains how the atmosphere of museums leads to creativity in other genres, such as writing. This is the basis of my philosophy regarding ekphrasis. 

Q: What are some other things you’re passionate about?

One issue I feel passionate about is mental health. We are experiencing a rise in mental illnesses, especially in young people, which has become a national crisis. There are many reasons for this, but it really needs to be on the radar for all of us, whether we are parents, teachers, or any member of the community. My latest article about mental health is “Healing Through Stories.

 Q: What sparked you to become a writer? How did your literary journey begin?

I was very lucky to live in a home where books and writing were important. 

My parents read out loud to their children, took us to libraries, and encouraged us to express ourselves through writing. A poem I wrote in 3rd grade got a “very good” from my teacher, and from that point, I was a writer. 

I’ve had many other jobs, including a career in I.T. My profession as a fulltime writer didn’t start until later in life, but I was always writing. In 2005, I sent some poems to a university contest, and unexpectedly won; this really helped me focus on writing as my calling.

 Q: What’s the earliest thing you remember writing?

Starting at age ten, I kept a notebook where I wrote my earliest poems. Here’s a short poem from that book:


         Yellow is hot.

         Yellow boils over a lot.

         Yellow is sweet to one

         person, while at the

         same time, yells at

         another. I’m warning

         you, yellow is very touchy.

 Q: What is your favorite kind of chocolate?

My absolute favorite is the raspberry/dark chocolate classic truffle from the best chocolatier in Eugene, Euphoria Chocolates. In fact I think I should write a poem about it!

Upcoming classes you might enjoy


Give your writing engine a jump-start at this monthly in-person generative writing workshop. Led by Wordcrafters staff, Daryll Lynne Evans and Jeaux Bartlett, you’ll play with prompts to jolt your creativity into writing action and generate new ideas and stories.

1st Thursdays, starting September 5 | Age 16+

Learn more! Prompt

Word open mic

Share your words in sweet community at our monthly open mic emceed by spoken word poet Jorah LaFleur.

2nd Thursdays, 7-9 pm, starting September 12 | All ages

Learn more! Word open mic