UT alumna publishes second book of poetry

Briana Zamora

There was never a moment in Carrie Fountain’s life when she realized she was going to dedicate herself to poetry. There was no grand epiphany, no trumpets, no flashing lightbulb. It just happened. 

Fountain says she did not have time to wait around for a sign or for some grand realization. 

“I would much rather indulge my impulses,” Fountain said. “Because that indulgence can lead to something greater, and in that way I can have small epiphanies.” 

Fountain says her newest book, “Instant Winner,” is her collection of “small epiphanies.” The book of poems was published Sept. 30 and chronicles the spiritual evolution Fountain experienced as she adjusted to parenthood. 

Prior to having children, Fountain received her master’s degree in poetry at the Michener Center for Writers at UT in 2004. The UT alumna has since been honored with the Marlboro Poetry Prize, Austin Library Foundation’s Award for Literary Excellence and Swink’s Award for Emerging Writers. After having her second child, Fountain decided to resign from her teaching position at St. Edward’s University. While she is no longer a professor, she still holds a teaching position in a reduced capacity as a writer-in-residence.  

“I had come to the point where I realized I really wanted to devote my time and energy to writing,” Fountain said. “I have two small children, and I felt like I couldn’t manage all three: writing, teaching and parenting.”

Like the students she advises, Fountain often struggles with the self-discipline necessary to write every day. According to Fountain, this self-discipline is crucial to developing as a writer, and it should not be overlooked.

“The rule I have made for myself is that I have to put my butt in the seat,” Fountain said. “My son has only been on the planet sixteen months, and he can sit quite well. Everyone is capable of this.” 

Fountain says while the practice of writing may sound simple, it is not easy. 

“Many things in life that are simple are not easy and writing is one of them,” Fountain said. “Writing is just like exercising. You constantly have to condition yourself or your writing voice will become weak.”

Longtime friend and fellow writer Margo Rabb read “Instant Winner,” prior to its publication. 

“Carrie writes about the experience of motherhood with incredible beauty, originality, and grace; she articulates emotions and experiences with extraordinary insight and truth,” Rabb said. “I devoured her new book in one sitting.”

Kristin Matzen, Fountain’s friend and senior publicist at Penguin Group USA, says “Instant Winner” is a much more personal piece.

“Her voice is deep and loose,” Matzen said. “You can really sense the person behind the poetry.”

Since writing her first book of poetry, “Burn Lake,” Fountain says she has gotten much closer to realizing what her voice is and what she wants it to be.

“‘Instant Winner’ feels more like this is my first book than my second book because it seems truer to my voice as a poet, more authentic somehow,” Fountain said.

While her poetry is inspired by private experiences, Fountain has always written with the intent of sharing her work.

“I have always felt like I want to have an audience,” Fountain said. “That is something that has always been a part of my personality and my writing. I have always wanted to speak to others through poetry, and I feel like ‘Instant Winner’ does that.”

Fountain will be speaking at St. Edward’s University on Oct. 2 to celebrate the recent publication of “Instant Winner.”