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Phyllis C. Koppel


First Language(s): Spanish
Second Language(s): English


Phyllis C. Koppel’s short stories have appeared in juried competitions and journals in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Her self-published novel “The Story of Two Suitcases” made it to the quarterfinals of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year competition. She’s studied writing with Wayson Choy and Alice Walker. She identifies as a visible minority, a Latina woman living in Toronto, Canada.


What was your favorite book as a child?

Anything related to the lives of Hellen Keller and Annie Sullivan, I devoured as a child. I loved their resilience and how they complemented one another. A true story of hope and survival.

Do you remember the original reason or motivation why you started writing creatively?

As a child, I kept a journal where I’d scribble poems and thoughts which turned into little stories and I’ve never stopped. As a young adult those stories took the shape of paintings but returned to the written word shortly after.

What was the most adventurous or thrilling thing you ever did/experienced?

My life has been one long adventure. At eighteen I took a gap year to live in the Middle East and stayed nine years. I attended university in California and New York City and lived as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Eastern Caribbean for twelve years. Mingling with other cultures, learning, building communities are the most thrilling things I’ve experienced.

Do you listen to music while reading or writing?

No. I concentrate on the music more than on my writing. When I hear a line I particularly like, I later find that a version of it has crept into my writing — dangerously brushing against plagiarism. In silence, what pours out is mine alone.


Short Story
The Dump Dwellers
Issue Fall '20

Supported by:

Land Steiermark: Kultur, Europa, Außenbeziehungen
U.S. Embassy Vienna
Stadt Graz