Ahh, I’m back to my lackadasical updates. I was good for like… almost two weeks? Regardless, I do have a very thoughtful and informative interview with M.E. Riley, who waxes poetic below sea level in New Orleans.
Describe your work in 25 words or less.
Memories, the hurt of them. Carrying and sharing narratives that define who I am. A survey on what’s lost and what I can regain.
Tell me about your poem “De Valls Bluff Voodoo.”
It’s a retelling of a memory made years ago, when I was a teenager. The memory itself is hazy in particular places, so I used it to my advantage, language-wise, and tried to encapsulate images + dialogue in dense snippets. It’s dirty weird South.
What or who inspires you to write?
Hearing folks telling stories, trying their accents on my tongue. Music – I listen to so much music. Talking family history with my mother and aunt. Visual art that challenges how I define my views on the world. Traveling through the south.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
Frank Stanford, C.D. Wright, Jericho Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Philip Levine, Anne Sexton, Dorothy Parker, Langston Hughes, and Sharon Olds, to name a few.
Do you have a blog/website?
I’m currently both Blog Editor and Associate Poetry Editor for Bayou Magazine. Check out our series + highlights @ bayoumagazine.org. Haven’t had the time yet to cultivate a personal website, but folks can read my musings on Twitter (@RiotGirlRiley).
Where can we read you next?
Find my most recent work in The Rain, Party, and Disaster Society as well as in the debut issue of Quaint Magazine. A poem is forthcoming from Deep South Magazine.
What are you working on right now?
My MFA thesis. It’s in its final stages, but somehow, the ending has been much more difficult than the beginning. Understanding what a body of work is, what it does/could represent, may be the toughest lesson I’ve had to learn as an artist. If I ever figure it out, you’re the first I’ll call.
Any advice for other writers?
They say write what you know. I agree, but with an addendum: Write what you know, even if you don’t know what it means. No one has lived your life and therefore, no one can make your art. DO YOU.
Can you explain the appeal of New Orleans?
It constantly engages all my senses — I wear my gold locust earrings and pin-striped jacket to the corner store without a stranger’s glance. From my bedroom window, I see horses running the race track each morning. I hear poetry + music nearly any day of the week. I eat pounds of freshly- boiled crawfish out of a neighbor’s truck bed.
Anything else you’d like to say?