Gabrielle Idlet

Gabrielle Idlet

By Ginny Massulo

Contributing Writer

When Gabrielle Idlet steps up to the Ozark Poets and Writers’ mic at Nightbird Books at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, she’ll read from her wild yet accessible prose.

Idlet teaches at Northwest Arkansas Community College and has been an adjunct professor at Yeshiva University and the Polytechnic Institute in New York since graduating from the University of Arkansas’ MFA creative writing program in 2005. She holds numerous writing credits in nonfiction, film and fiction. One of her stories was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

The writing life came both hard and honestly to Idlet. Her father and beat poet John Thomas read to her widely and talked deeply to her about philosophy and art. He also subjected her to a life so full of squalor and abuse that she dropped out of high school at age 15 and went to work in order to live on her own.

Inspired by the nonlinear language of Bob Dylan in the 1980s, Idlet began to write poetry herself.

“His words reflected the chaotic experience of my life,” she said. It was then that she realized she didn’t want to turn 50 and find herself still waiting tables. She wanted to write.

Through personal effort and the guidance of an extraordinary high school counselor, she obtained her GED through a program at Los Angeles Community College. She then made her way to Antioch College in Ohio where she says, “I found my people,” which is to say creative self-starters. It was there that her philosophy for life, writing and teaching were honed.

“I tend to think of all work as service. I want my writing to companion people or to shake them up in a way that is useful.”

Sustaining that goal, Idlet has worked with homeless teens in New York’s Street Work Project and for the Sundance Institute, where she helped develop a fellowship for writers. She is known in Fayetteville for her private writing classes. One of her students, Barbara Jaquish, says, “Gabrielle is a generous teacher who shows her students how to appreciate their own work as well as the work of others. I’m often surprised at what’s produced in response to her timed writing prompts. When she says ‘two more minutes to go,’ the most amazing things bubble out.” For more information, contact Idlet at

An open mic, with a four-minute time limit for each participant, precedes and follows Idlet. The Brick House Kafe continues to offer some of the best spirits and creative food in town.



Categories: Commentary