Mama’s Writing is Raising Mother’s monthly interview series, curated by Deesha Philyaw.
Julia Mallory is a poet, children’s book author and founder of the creative literary arts brand, Black Mermaids. Her latest book, Survivor’s Guilt, takes an unflinching look at grief. She is the mother of three children: Julian (deceased), Jaya, and Kareem. She lives in Central Pennsylvania. Her work can be found at www.blackmermaids.com.
Raising Mothers: Are there days when you feel like a mother who writes, and others when you feel like a writer who is a mother?
Julia Mallory: Not really – my new normal often feels like one huge blurred line. I’ve been a mother longer than I have considered myself a writer so it is hard for me to distinguish between the two. My shifting role as a mother has afforded me more space to write, my shifting role as a writer has afforded me more courage to mother.
Raising Mothers: How has parenting influenced your writing?
Mallory: 2020 marks my 20th mothering anniversary. While I have always considered myself a poet, I didn’t truly consider myself a writer until my first collection of poetry was published in November 2016, and I wrote a children’s book as follow up. When my teenage daughter read the draft for my first children’s book, she said, “It’s good, like a real writer wrote it.” I have been considering myself a real writer ever since.
Raising Mothers: How has writing influenced your parenting?
Mallory: Writing makes me think more about the legacy that I am leaving behind – what will my words mean in the future to my children and others. Will my children think my mothering lives up to my legacy as a writer?
Raising Mothers: Who are your writer-mama heroes?
Mallory: Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde, Faith Ringgold
Raising Mothers: What three words describe you as a mother?
Mallory: Supportive, serious, funny
Raising Mothers: What three words describe you as a writer?
Mallory: Bold, unflinching, compassionate
Deesha Philyaw’s writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, TueNight and elsewhere. The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, her collection of short stories about Black women, sex, and the Black church, is her fiction debut.
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