Meet our Senior Poetry Editor, Julia Mallory (she/her). We asked her to share a bit more about herself in a new series we’re running for our editors. Here are Julia’s 10 questions.
What are your writing rituals?
Generally, I start writing only under the influence of inspiration which means that I have to get started as soon as possible to capture the wave of words while they are still fresh. This could also mean that if I interrupt the flow with any additives, I might miss some of the message as it’s coming to me or even dull the feeling that it’s traveling through.
But, when it’s time to build the writing beyond the initial inspiration or revise the writing, particularly if it feels stuck or slow to come, I might light a candle and/or incense to clear my space and invite clarity or insight. I might also create a soundtrack from existing music to support the world I am building with my words. And if I am really, really stuck? I do something else. I always have some creative iron in the fire I can retrieve.
Who is a writer who inspires you and why?
There are so many but for the sake of this question, the Toni’s (Morrison and Cade Bambara). Morrison because she unapologetically centered Black people in her work and supported other Black women writers, from encouraging them to write to editing their writing. Cade Bambara because she honored the humanity of Black folks in her work and was a multi-hyphenated artist (writer, teacher, filmmaker, cultural worker, etc.).
Living folks: Kiese Laymon because of what he does with the essay and Deesha Philyaw because of what she has done with the short story while centering the pleasure and desires of Black women.
What book has a significant influence on you/your writing?
I like to return to Claudia Tate’s collection of conversations, Black Women Writers at Work (1984). It’s really inspirational to hear insight from people such as Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, Nikki Giovanni, and others. There is insight from the writing process to managing the daily responsibilities of motherhood.
Describe to your dream submission.
This is such a tough question. I love quiet poems. I love loud poems. I’m honestly open to it all. I love when a poem grabs me from the begin and doesn’t turn me loose until the end. I love poems that end with a strong gut-check. I love when a last line lingers on me. It makes me want to run to the top again just to see how the writer achieved that ending. I love word play and internal rhyme. I just want to be where the writer is when they wrote it.
Why does writing matter to you?
Writing matters to me because it has saved my life many times over.
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading everything and nothing! Every day I add a new book to my list. I read poetry daily. I currently have the following books on a special pile and am making my way through them:
Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being (Black Outdoors: Innovations in the Poetics of Study) by Kevin Quashie
Black Utopias: Speculative Life and the Music of Other Worlds by Jayna Brown
Some of Us Did Not Die by June Jordan
How do you create joy?
I’m not sure I can create it so much as I do what feels good and yield to the outcome. Joy for me can be something as ordinary as eating or laughing ferociously.
How do you create space to write?
These days, I usually have access to the physical concept of space to write, including time. What is trickier, however is energy and focus. Sometimes it feels like my attention is carved up into one hundred tiny pieces and reassembling them towards one particular thing can be tough. While the majority of my writing takes place solo, there is something about having a well-rounded life to fuel the writing and the sheer desire to write, that pandemic has limited.
What do you love about Raising Mothers?
I love that Raising Mothers provides an opportunity for people like me to see themselves reflected and have their work supported. I love that Raising Mothers is ever-evolving to center the needs of our contributors and community. I love that Raising Mothers embodies the concept that there is no single story and offers space to explore the nuance of our many stories.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on a textile project that utilizes capes to represent the ways that Black women navigate life through caretaking, labor, and access to resources, including time.
This summer I will be launching Sensual Sonku Sundays which is a pleasure-filled space to explore poetic craft and create stanzas modeled after the sonku, the form invented by Sonia Sanchez.
I’m also writing more fiction that might one day become a collection.
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