Location: Oak Park, Illinois
Education: MFA in Creative Writing
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing poetry ever since I joined the Spoken Word Club at my high school during my sophomore year. I started writing fiction in college.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I write poetry, fiction, and CNF. My writing style is quite similar in all 3 genres. I write a lot of hybrid pieces.
Tell us about your work in Crack the Spine.
“Hands” explores the intricacies of attraction while disregarding traditional standards of beauty.
What inspired this work?
In my graduate program I was taking a seminar with Al Young called Kinds of Blue. We wrote short pieces that explored or were inspired by blue (the color, the music, the word, the idea, etc.). One assignment prompted us to conduct an interview with a visual artist to see what kind of inspiration we could gather from someone who worked in a different medium. I was waitressing at the time at a beautiful restaurant in Jack London Square in Oakland and I had a good friend I had met there who was a painter. In the middle of brainstorming interview questions, I suddenly started writing “Hands” and it took over. I have never written a piece of fiction so quickly. I turned in “Hands” instead of the interview assignment and Al Young was very excited about it.
How long did it take you to complete “Hands?”
I wrote “Hands” in about an hour. In the weeks that followed, I added a few small edits but for the most part, it was completed in that first hour.
Tell us about another project you have published or are currently working on.
I’m working on a book of poems and prose block called I Look for My Mother: She Looks for Me.
How often do you write?
I wish I could say I write every day like I did during grad school. I graduated from my writing program in May and my writing has slowed down quite a bit. My focus has been elsewhere. I’m having a baby at the end of October. I’m hoping she will bring me some new inspiration and I can get into more of a routine.
What time of day or night makes you most productive as a writer?
I’m most productive when I write late at night, when I can get past the overthinking and just get right into the weird stuff.
What is your usual starting point for a piece?
For poetry it is usually an emotion or a sensation that doesn’t have a name. For example, I recently wrote a poem where the starting point was me getting in my car and feeling the steering wheel where the leather was softest at 10 and 2 where my hands always go. The poem, “Body Memory,” turned into a whole piece about a body missing another body that had become home. My fiction usually starts with a character’s action or dialogue. A funny line might pop into my head and it will be associated with a new character, so I’ll start from there.
What is your favorite book?
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Who is your favorite author?
This changes constantly. Right now, I’m really enjoying Zadie Smith.
What’s in that cup on your desk?
A small Ecuadorian flag, 2 chupa chups, 1 pencil and 3 pens.
Beach or Mountains?
Cats or Dogs?
Pen or Pencil?
Additional Reading on Grace