Interview with Tobi Alfier

Photo: © Tobi Alfier 2020

Please, introduce yourself and your writing.

My name is Tobi Alfier. I’m 95% a poet, with a toe dipped in the short fiction pool. I’ve been writing for many years, but only started publishing and reading at open mics in 2005. Much of my work was published under the name “Tobi Cogswell”.  I now publish as “Tobi Alfier” after being blessed to marry Jeffrey Alfier, a beautiful poet and photographer. Jeff is the founder, co-publisher and co-editor of San Pedro River Review (SPRR), a semi-annual international print journal of poetry and art. I’m fortunate to be the other co-publisher and co-editor.

Your latest writing projects?

I have a very short chapbook entitled Grit and Grace that I’m expecting out from The Orchard Street Press in the next year or so. My full-length collection Symmetry: earth and sky recently came out from Main Street Rag. I’ve never felt it necessary to have a lot of books out at the same time, especially now when launching a new book is difficult. So I’m just writing new work and waiting for the right time to put another manuscript together.

I’m going to have six pages of poetry in one journal next April, and five poems in another journal in spring, so I’m making sure I’ll have work that meets both their aesthetics and expectations while writing and submitting to other journals at the same time. I love to submit work!

How would you describe your poems?

To quote Harry Youtt, who I took several classes from, I’d say I’m a “plain speech poet” who writes narrative poems of place. Someone once said I write a lot about “food, loss, and failing bodies”. Someone else pointed out that I write about “doors and music”. I just like to tell stories. I don’t write experimental poetry, and I don’t ever want anyone to have to look a word up in the dictionary. I strive always to be poetic. I strive always to be learning and growing. I want my readers to feel like we’re friends – because we are – and my wish is for them to feel like we’re just two people sitting on the porch talking. If that inspires someone to write, that’s wonderful. If it makes someone feel less alone, that’s wonderful. If they feel they’ve travelled somewhere they’ve never gone, perfect! That’s what I hope to accomplish with my poems, and how I’d describe them.

Why do you write?

Because I can’t not.

Who are your favourite authors?

I read a lot of fiction so a lot of my favorite authors are fiction writers. In no particular order: Alex Lemon, Nick Flynn, Ellen Gilchrist, Jhumpa Lahiri, Diana Abu Jaber, Annie Proulx, Barbara Kingsolver, Henry Miller, Edith Wharton, Howard Norman, Dorothy Allison. I may like one of their books, or all of their books. It doesn’t matter. Something’s touched me inside and I needed to mention them. I’ll probably think of twenty more after I send this.

Do you have a homepage?

I don’t have a homepage but the website for SPRR is It contains full bios, submission guidelines, broad explanations of any themes, and shows pictures of the covers of all the journals and books that we’ve published.

Thank you very much for the interview!

It is my privilege and my honor, truly. Thank you.