Writing “the very stuff of life”

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Today in unusual writing jobs: an inside look at what it’s like to be an obituary news writer for the New York Times.

Each day, it is our job to come to know such strangers intimately, inhaling their lives through telephone calls to their families, through newspaper and magazine profiles culled from electronic databases and through the crumbling yellowed clippings from the Times morgue that can fall to dust in our fingers as we read them. The clock ticks down, the traffic hums on Eighth Avenue, the 24th cup of coffee is drunk and thus, at 6 o’clock, we all make deadline, day in and day out.


Marisa Siegel lives, writes, and edits near NYC. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Mills College in Oakland, CA. Her essay “Inherited Anger” appears in the anthology Burn It Down (Seal Press, 2019) and her debut poetry chapbook, Fixed Stars, is forthcoming from Burrow Press in 2022. She is editor-in-chief and owner of The Rumpus. Follow her on Twitter at @marisasaystweet. More from this author →