All posts filed under: Interviews

Motherhood is the Framework: A Conversation with Bassey Ikpi

Bassey Ikpi is a writer, performer, mental health advocate, and author of the instant New York Times-bestselling book, I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying, a debut collection of essays about living with bipolar II disorder and anxiety. Bassey first gained public acclaim as an internationally recognized poet featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She has been published by The Root, Huffington Post, Essence, and elsewhere. As the founder of The Siwe Project, a mental health organization, Bassey created the global movement #NoShameDay, an initiative that aims to reduce stigma and increase mental health awareness. RM: Can you talk a bit about the process of writing a memoir and deciding how much or how little to include about your motherhood experience? BI: I was very clear with my editor and even my first agent about this. The agent thought I should add something about motherhood, and I said, “No, I’m not even going to put it in the proposal because it’s not happening.” So it was a firm decision made on firm ground. I told …

A Guiding Presence: An Interview with Maya Eleazer

  Maya Eleazer is a mom, birth doula and student, focused on psychotherapy and Indigenous studies. She currently resides in the Pacific NW with her husband and two teenage children.   What prompted you to become a doula?  My introduction to doula work was very unexpected. It began in 2000 when I was twenty-one years old. A friend invited me to her son’s birth because she and the baby’s father were going through a rough patch in their relationship, and she didn’t feel she could depend on him for support.  Back then, neither my friend nor I had heard of birth doulas, and I knew very little about birth, so my support role wasn’t defined in that way. I was just very excited to be invited to witness a birth and help my friend out during her labor, and witness a birth.  What an amazing opportunity and gift. What was life-changing about the experience? Could you describe it? I remember it was really early in the morning and still dark out when my friend called to …

And I Lived to Tell About It: An Interview with Jennifer Steele, winner of the Lucille Clifton Creative Parent Writing Award

Interviewed By Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton Yelling at your Black mother and living is an art that very few people have attempted, much less mastered. But on occasion, someone defies the odds. Jennifer Steele, the 35-year-old Columbia College Chicago graduate who works in the Chicago Public Library, and author of “Kite,” is such a survivor. This Louder Than A Bomb Coach has a life that is centered around education. Her work with Chicago youth is inspiring and she is always looking for a moment to give those in her life new space to express themselves. Her recent chapbook, A House and Its Hunger on Central Square Press, shines a light on this need for safe spaces. I sat down with Steele, winner of our first Lucille Clifton Creative Parent Writing Award, to discuss how she survived such a feat and lived to write about it. What was your first thought after yelling at your mother? My heart was beating so fast in that moment. I felt like I was five again. She gave me the look. …

“I hope I’m doing it ok”: Kelly Wickham Hurst and Stacia Brown

Part I I’ve known of Stacia’s writing for quite some time and the first thing that drew me to her was how familiar she felt to me. It was as if I had known her much longer than the first time I spent any amount of time reading her words. She’s the kind of writer that makes me wish I could write better when I read her work. Those are the kind of writers to keep in your back pocket. Yet, it is Stacia’s motherhood that drew me closer. I love how she talks about her daughter and their relationship and her dreams for her. So, it surprised me when I asked her about parenting that she responded with, “I don’t always feel like a mother. I’m very uncertain most of the time.” While I was shocked to hear her say that, it still felt familiar to me and I admitted to her that I felt the same even though I have been a mother longer than I’ve been married, had a career, or lived …

“Do not forget about black mothers and our voice”: Deesha Philyaw in conversation with Denene Millner

Denene Millner. Where do I begin? When I first came across her work, she was in  a class of writers that felt like my own special literary crew: black authors writing every day black stories for specifically black audiences. I reveled in the words. This was my first time in a long time reading strictly for entertainment. To say a “yes! Humph!” and have an occasional kissing of my teeth. They were a vital part of my youth; as important as air when I was submerged in texts that were strictly academic for what felt like forever at that point. They were also my realistic inspiration. I wanted to be a writer. I struggled with what that might look like coming from a working class Jamaican household. Denene was the architect in more than one arena in my life. I started reading My Brown Baby well before I became a mother. She was the only woman whose words I could resonate with. I always felt like my girlfriend was letting me in on another secret …