How to Believe in Magic: A Conversation with Jenny Sadre-Orafai


Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of Malak, Paper, Cotton, Leather, and five chapbooks. Her poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, The Cortland Review, Hotel Amerika, The Pinch, and other journals. Her prose has appeared in Los Angeles Review, The Rumpus, South Loop Review, Fourteen Hills, The Collagist, and other journals. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly and an Associate Professor of English at Kennesaw State University.

Tell Tell’s Tim Lynch talks with poet Jenny Sadre-Orafai about her second full-length collection, Malak (Platypus Press, 2017), and what it means to document the supernatural and the suppressed as they manifest in language and less articulable ways.


Tim Lynch: I’m really excited to talk with you. I fucking love this book.

Jenny Sadre-Orafai: You’re so nice. Thank you.

TL: It’s very good. So how did the book project start for you?

JS: I think that it was just this idea of documenting all the supernatural that was going on in my life around my grandmother, strange things that I didn’t really piece together until they started happening to me, like poltergeist activity. Just looking at my grandmother and her gift for reading people’s futures from a different viewpoint, because it was so normal to me. It was something that I always knew she did. So it’s just a documenting, and it’s almost a case, proof that the supernatural exists—that people can hallucinate animals, that crystals can help people—and it kind of grew out of that.

TL: Yeah there’s definitely evidence we hear on the supernatural. The book seems very concerned with ghosts in one way or another. This book, in that way, feels like you’re sort of cultivating a space for this absent person. I’m wondering if that is something you’ve been trying to do with your poems as well.

JS: Yeah, I like that idea. I also think there’s something there, for an absent person, but also for a person who didn’t have the English language. You know, she and I didn’t really talk all that much. Her English was really limited, so our bond was even more based on this psychic connection, this spiritual connection. So I think it’s also for someone who I didn’t really know. I was trying to understand her maybe through writing the poems. I also think that the poems, honestly, are a political act. I mean, I’m Iranian and Mexican, and a woman, and so I think that part of it was a form of protest in a way, saying that this history, my history, matters.

TL: Yeah, the book opens and closes with direct speech, and each instance feels like a way of speaking so much of that into the world.

And part of what affected me with this book too is, well, I just lost my grandfather in December, so I’m still learning how to cultivate that space. There’s that next-to-last section in “Origin,” this line: “She’ll come back for the nest.” The raw quartz. There’s this sense of desperation in trying to get the dead back, which you’re pointing to in that relationship, something deeply connective here beyond language. I know that’s not exactly a question. I’m just trying to show my appreciation.

JS: Oh, well, thank you, and I’m sorry for your loss.

TL: Thank you.

But like I said, this book begins and ends with direct speech, and I won’t spoil the ending but I can’t imagine it ending any other way. So what, can I ask, is your personal relationship to languages, either in the practical daily way of speaking them or in relation to poetry, as far as the strange avoidance of sense poetry has?

JS: Well, I know bad words in Farsi, and I know numbers, and I know parts of my face. But that’s all. So then there’s that breakdown. I think the irony is in that section that you point out about me trying to lure my grandmother back, with shiny objects, with jewels or with crystal or whatever, because she really liked jewelry. This is maybe off topic, but I was told I was a healer, and the one message I get across the board is, “You don’t own it, you don’t believe that you are, and you have to just embody it and own it.” And so I think that anxiety of, “Did I really inherit her gift? Are all these things flickering around me and all these weird things happening because I’m like her?”—I’m trying to use language to communicate with her, and, ironically, we don’t speak the same language. So, I’m looking for this reassurance, even just in daily life, that I’m doing what I should be doing.

But the way I work mostly when I’m writing a poem, it’s very much like I’m taking notes. I don’t write every day or anything, and then it all just comes out. I think it’s maybe a spoiled way of writing, but I’ve just accepted that that’s how I work. So a lot of times the language is just dictated by whatever comes out as I’m listening.

TL: It sounds like you’re just taking what you’re given, which sort of relates too to that sense of, when you can see what’s coming what do you do with that. There’s that one moment, the last section of “Origin” about the tire, just listening to what you’re given too. So, how do you relate to being able to see. . . farther? It seems like that’s sort of conflated with seeing the truth, and it seems to exist between things.

JS: Well, that tire thing was one of the only times it really happened to me. That was really freaky; I mostly set electronics off. I’ve had my rear view mirrors on both sides combust and blow off my car; both times I was upset. It’s like telekinesis-type stuff, like Carrie. And that middle part, “Origin,” was actually an essay that was published in Los Angeles Review, and I parsed it out. I was so tired of people not believing, I was like, “I’m just going to write down everything that’s ever happened to me and that I’ve witnessed, and this will be how to believe in magic.” So those things, they don’t scare me.

The other day, I was in the living room with my husband and we were watching TV, and I was writing a poem and wanted to put an angel in it, so I was like, “Raphael’s an angel, right,” and he said, “What? No! That’s like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.” So I Googled it and was like, “No, here he is, he’s an angel.” So we had the TV on the news, the channel we always watch, and I’ve never seen this weather person before, and they go, “Alright, thank you, Raphael,” and I was like, “Mmmhmm.” I feel like things like that happen and it’s always the universe or the angels or whoever—it doesn’t scare me; it just makes me feel like that happened to give me reassurance.

TL: People will talk about the power of language and whatever, but it sounds like your relationship with the power of language is quite literal.

JS: Yeah. This woman came, she reads people’s auras, and she had these silver plates. You put your hands on them—they have little handprints on them—and then she takes a Polaroid, and around you are all these colors, and she’s able to kind of discern what’s going on. She looked at me and said, “Wow, you talk to your angels, don’t you?” And I was like, “What, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And she says, “Well you always read the ticker across the screen, and you look for words. And you look at license tags and you look for words there,” and I didn’t realize that I do that, but I do. So I think I’m constantly communicating with something bigger than me in these strange ways.

TL: I’m thinking too about—there’s so much in this book about the possibilities of language, either in terms of the supernatural, or there’s the one poem, “Lucy Let People See,” where you and the taxi driver are talking about people who were strangers to either of you, but the way in which you related to them, respectively, brings you two closer. What do you think are the possibilities of speech in terms of grief? In terms of processing it, or how you relate to the world, or to that missing person now?

JS: To be honest, Tim, something that’s on my mind, with Weinstein—this last section of the last poem, and there’s another poem about the guy and the plaster, “Lifecasting”—there’s this way of working through assault and abuse, which is partly grief for me, and working through silence. It’s strange. I hadn’t really sat down to read the book completely since it came out, but those parts were super-raw when I was re-reading it before you called. So I feel like there are certain things that one can do, that I certainly do, in poetry that I can’t be public about, that I can’t quite articulate yet.

I saw that you’re in recovery, and congratulations for that. I’m in recovery for disordered eating. When I think about all the forgiveness that you have to do in recovery, and I think about all the things that you have to confront in order to get well, or recover, it’s the things that I thought I had forgiven, things that I thought I had released or was able to let go of that are the very things that are why I’m kind of in relapse right now. I guess I just wanted to say that because I’m feeling a lot of grief in that way, grief for those who have been assaulted and abused.

In the book, there’s grief for my grandmother and the conversations we couldn’t have because of language. It’s more of that than a grieving of her. I have this really strange thing with death; I don’t really process it; I don’t really feel much. It’s a different kind of sadness. I think a sadness of also not really knowing her.

TL: A lot of this book too is reclaiming, or plainly claiming, the self. That idea of thinking you’ve processed, and thinking you’ve gotten through all of this, then realizing that it’s still there. That’s a really big thing for recovery that I’m still finding out too. And I’ve been in my own situations where my body too has been made to feel estranged from myself, and in that way, yeah, you think you process everything, and then somebody says or does something or you uncover something in your own language that tips you off to realize that it’s still there. Not to say that it’s something abysmal or hopeless or anything, just that all of this is true and real, which like you said, is part of the book too, saying what no one would normally believe is real.

JS: Absolutely. It always surprises me—I think it’s a lot of ego involved—when something rattles me, even though I feel like I’m really self-aware. Like writers, especially poets maybe, are super-self-aware. I mean, that’s our job. So, for something to unearth, for me to be so floored by something—I don’t know. “Markers,” ends with “First no.” It’s my way of writing around abuse and assault because I can’t hit it head-on yet. So much of it for me was suppressed and it was just all there suddenly. Like, “What? Where did this come from?” And you see how all these aggressions against your body accumulate over the years and the effect they have on you.

TL: Exactly, it’s just suppressed. You don’t know what’s there. And in that way I guess it’s sort of reading your own past too.

JS: Yeah.

TL: Yeah.

Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t get to talk about?

JS: No, I’m just very honored that you asked, and I’m grateful that you read the book and did such a close reading.

TL: Oh, well, thank you for writing it. And thank you for being so open. This has been really enjoyable and insightful just as a plain conversation too.

JS: Likewise.


Tim Lynch has poems forthcoming or published with Yes, Poetry, Occulum, tenderness, yea, Connotation Press, and more. He has directed various workshops for young writers through Rutgers University in Camden, NJ & conducts interviews for Tell Tell Poetry. He would be delighted to meet you on Twitter & Instagram @timlynchthatsit.



Interview with Zachary Green

Zachary Zalman Green  currently resides in Minneapolis with no pets to speak of, refers to himself as a "flatlander", and maintains mountains in his head. He is the co-founding editor of Ghost Proposal magazine. Green's work has appeared in interrupture, Whiskey Island, Ilk, Columbia Poetry Review, Jellyfish Magazine, and elsewhere. He was selected as an honorable mention in nonfiction judged by Johnathan Lethem for plain china's national anthology of best undergraduate writing 2011, and a recipient of the 2010 and 2011 Elma Stuckey Poetry Award. He sat down with us to chat about his writing playlist, Ginsberg, Ruefle, and his poetry path.

Can we talk about your poetry path? How did you end up here? Where else did you think you were going to go? What does here even look like?

Poetry, and I guess a lot of where I am now, almost always has felt accidental. In high school I considered myself a wannabe journalist and when the beat of cafeteria politics dried up I started a zine with a friend. At the time we thought we were the only ones who needed to contribute. It was called Ink Stains & Coffee Flowers. To this day I love how juvenile the whole operation was, from the title to its production. My friend Leah and I would throw together an issue, splash some ink on it as if we were Ralph Steadman disciples, and then make copies at her dad's law office late at night. So this was kind of my first attempt at writing for an audience and having the hubris to think I had content worth sharing.

That very same friend told me about Columbia College Chicago. At the time it had the only undergraduate program where you could study poetry, specifically. However, yet again, when I went to visit, I thought that I was going to study fiction, my "poetry" hadn't taken shape yet. Having a negative reaction to that department all together I enrolled in the poetry program, maybe largely because one of the first faculty I met there was a Red Sox fan which appealed to my father and a Ginsberg scholar which appealed to me. 

However, in my senior year of college I was having doubts. I had some teachers telling me to pursue grad school which then was a conventional way of saying go spend more money so you can publish a book and get teaching gigs (and probably still is). I thought I was going to quit it all together and become a cheese farmer or an architect, I had at least told my friends as much. Then I moved back to NH, and did neither of those things. I got a job at an art gallery, I started a magazine, I left the magazine, and quite frankly, around 2013/2014 started to see my way out of poetry. 

Here to me now looks a lot like letting each day unfold, but truly in that way. I don't have much control over it anymore and I am not too concerned about that. In my early-twenties I was horribly fucking stubborn about goals and needing to be settled into a comfortable life. Now I freelance in the film industry and work in the strangest of places from week to week, day to day. So if here is a thing, it is being and trying to identify that presence of mind when it happens, then maybe writing a thing or two from there.  

What about inspiration? What were you reading/seeing/thinking about when you wrote The Number You Are Trying to Reach? What was the publication process for that like?

The thing with being inspired is that we often think it has to railroad us into the ground, or that we have to travel and blow any kind of savings on doing so (which I have done too many times now). TNYATTR was more subtle than that and the thing about the book is that it's not poetry, poetic maybe, but not poetry. 

I had just moved back east from Seattle and considered the whole thing a total failure. Before I left I had going away parties, I packed up everything, gave away my drum kit, wasn't coming back to New Hampshire. And then of course, I just...did, I came back with my tail between my legs. And I took the long way back, nearly losing my mind in Kansas and my 2006 Honda CR-V breaking down on Staten Island, with some sort of bizarre breakup happening on top of all of that. I quickly accelerated to bottom and at 25 you feel entitled to nothing but many victories, great brunches. 

So anyway, I was feeling nostalgic one afternoon, and had my desk set up in my sister's old bedroom at my parents house. I charged up my old cell phone and was thinking of a few people and began listening to their voicemails, which for whatever reason I never deleted. For the longest time I had no way to communicate what happened in Seattle and didn't really want to get into what that realization of actually being poor and entirely on your own feels like, when you are just sort of cut off and horribly depressed; it's very human and maybe even common so I knew I had to get at it from a different way. However, it was still too close to exchange words with. I thought that I would let those people tell the story, it seemed fitting, everyone checked in and often, as if they knew I was miserable without me ever needing to say so, and sometimes I did. The book carries on that way, it's everyone who meant something to me then weighing in or shaping my life, or taking away from it. There's a whole narrative just in the omission of myself from the book. 

At the time I think I was reading Mary Ruefle's Madness Rack and Honey. They are essays that are entirely about being a poet without being a poet. And I love that. To this day it's still kind of a gross word to me, I mean I use it a lot because it is convenient and among writers they know what you are talking about, and among lay people they either want to kiss you or ridicule you up into that tree you were daydreaming under (because that is all we do, right?). I was falling in love with creative nonfiction at the time as well and the possibilities there, to be completely confessional while also tailoring your manner of writing into being more palatial.

It took me until about August 2016 to finally complete the manuscript. I had thought of having a friend put it out who lives in Seattle but had also wanted to see if it had any legs at a press outside of people I knew. I initially submitted it to a small press in Portland, OR who had put out a book by my editor, Delphine Bedient (Down and Out on a Yacht). I was absolutely in love with Delphine's work and the care with which it was printed, a simple letterpress dust jacket and hundreds of vignettes of simple and tragic happenings. The press ended up passing on my manuscript but cleverly sent it along to Delphine and she wrote back saying it was perfect for her imprint, Quotidian Press. I have had work picked up by journals here and there but never had any luck with my poetry manuscript coming out of undergrad so it was really refreshing at how nearly effortless it seemed, or rather that I had finally found the right place with the right project. In any case, we spent a lot longer editing the manuscript than I thought would be possible, especially since they were verbatim voicemail transcriptions. Delphine is absolutely meticulous and did a beautiful job taking this book to the next level.

You co-founded Ghost Proposal. Can you talk a bit about that? 

Out of poetry college I knew two things: you must start a journal and host a reading series to maintain relevancy in that world. Of course I am being facetious, but I really thought that is what it took and then eventually that initiative would get me a job in publishing on a larger scale or that I could put out books and make a living that way. One, it's not nearly as inventive or easy as it seems (thanks Donald Trump, being a poet was harder than I thought), and two, you'll try anything to make a return on going blindingly into debt for studying poetry as an undergrad and eventually find you have to think about your future in broader terms, maybe.

Careerism aside, I had met Naomi, my co-editor who is now Editor-in-Chief of Ghost Proposal, via some letters of mine that she was editing for another journal, plain china, an anthology of undergraduate writing. She was an absolutely astounding editor to work with and I needed to meet her. So we got some pizza in Bennington, VT and talked about having a journal together (sounds kind of like having a baby), and then hung out in her bucolic red house in a mountain valley, and talked more about it. Then a few months later, when I was living in Northampton, MA I was biking alongside a river through some reeds and the title came to me, so I texted her 'ghost proposal.' We put out three issues together, I loved doing it and being the new kids on the block, so-to-speak, who were somehow able to entice nationally recognized writers to contribute just because we asked. However, it was my first time really running a journal and developing a staff and doing so collaboratively. I fucked a few things up and a few things that were beyond my control lead me to eventually leaving the magazine. Naomi is still running it to this day and doing a fantastic job (also, they have a chapbook contest going on right now and you all should submit to it)!

If you had to make a writing playlist, what 10 songs would be on there.

"The Glow Pt. 2" - The Microphones
"Haunt" - Pile
"C.L. Rosarian" - Mutual Benefit
"Crown" - Run The Jewels
"My Old Friend" - Sam Amidon
"White Fire" - Angel Olsen
"Sitting Around Waiting To Die" - Townes Van Zandt
" 'Ol 55" - Tom Waits
"Girl From The North Country" - Bob Dylan
"High Rise" - Cross Record

I could do this all day. I used think that scoring a film meant you just picked out the music for the soundtrack and I wanted to have that job. Still do. 

Would you rather every piece of art you see be a May Ray piece or have every song you hear be a Frank Ocean song? I’m not giving you a lot of options here, but this will help us understand you a bit better.

I think a Frank Ocean song. Music does something to me that 2D or 3D work can't touch. Also I always remember the lyrics as "Got a fresh pair of Nikes" and it's a nice thought because I always wonder how people who really invest in their Nike game keep them so damn clean! I can't do it. 

What’s your opinion on the “state of poetry”?

I think the moment we put something into a "state", we isolate it. Like the state of Israel, for example, who doesn't feel beholden to identify Palestine as a state, to be political for a moment. I use this example because it is extreme and I think it can be extreme to classify in such ways. I think the state of poetry is that it lives in a world unto itself and that is dangerous, that is why few people outside of those who write it, read it, and largely why I ran away from the writing world for a while. It's probably why I also come off as cynical about it. I think poetry is and more often than not, benefits from being a state of being or living. If we live our lives poetically, we write better (ideally) and are still present and involved in the world. I am still wary about writing in our current climate if what I am saying is not directly/indirectly to the end of freeing us in some way. I still haven't figured that out exactly but I am trying to make it more of a conscious effort.

If anything though, I am learning now that I can't be caught up in the 'why' or 'what' is going to happen to poetry but that we must continue to write or create in some capacity because it is really our last weapon of change for those charged with having such an outlet or talent, if you will. 

What are you reading right now? What did you start reading but stopped 10 minutes later and haven’t started again?

Right now I am reading a few things,10th of December by George Saunders which is totally surprising and fresh and moving to me and Jane Wong's Overpour, which is fucking flawless. I started reading Farenheit 451 because I am so embarrassed about how few classic novels I have read but put it down because it wasn't too long after the election and it was just too much. 

If there is any book you could have written but didn’t, what would it be?

I would have loved to have written Actual Air by David Berman. It's pitch-perfect in my mind and the dude just went away after writing it. I wish we all had the wisdom to sometimes just stop and find the new or next thing.  

And, finally, what’s a day-in-the-life like for Zachary?

If I am not working on a film set (which is my current occupation), I am usually seeking out the best bowl of ramen in Minneapolis, riding my bike to a lake, pitching my hammock with some kinda new beverage I am trying out that week, a book, a fruit thing and staying put until the sun falls out of the sky. So yeah, sleeping under trees, okay. But until I do that, I am likely in bed for a while, thinking that I need to be writing more.

Interview with Sara Adams - Money, Time, and Love

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate, we have our own fireworks going on over here. We just talked to Sara Adams, whose chapbook we're super excited about!

Sara Adams is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks: Poems for Ivan (Porkbelly Press) and Western Diseases (dancing girl press). Her work appears in publications such as DIAGRAM and Queen Mob's Teahouse. Sara lives in Portland, OR. She sat down to talk with us about her newest collection, Poems for Ivan, which will be available from Porkbelly Press so soon. 

Tell Tell Poetry: How many hours did you spend on your collection?

Sara Adams: Can we measure this in years instead? :) I've been working on these poems, though super on and off, for at least 5 years. And there are only 9 pages of poems in here. It's a micro-chapbook.

What was the most difficult moment, line, poem, or section of your collection? What made it so difficult?

This collection was actually a slow, steady process. There wasn't any crisis moment. Every time it didn't feel finished, I stopped working on it and picked it back up a few months later when I felt ready. If only all work was so flexible!

How many unpaid hours do you spend on supporting poetry?

I've been reading for Crab Creek Review for a couple of months, and just started reading for Red Bridge Press / Rivet Journal literally yesterday. I think it's only a couple of hours per week at this time, but in the summer, when I have a break from my teaching job, I'm planning to put in more hours.

What does a normal day look like for you? How do you spend most of your waking hours?

I'm a middle school teacher, and have never been asked this question. Feeling like a bit of a celebrity, to be honest. I'm at school from about 7:30-4:30, often later. Most of those are contact hours with students. I primarily teach writing, literature, and humanities. It's a small school, so I also do health, art, and other things, and we're basically like family-- for better and for worse! It is very intellectually and emotionally engaging, but oh so exhausting. After work, I spend time with my partner, read student papers or prep for my next day's classes, then often stay up late reading / writing poetry or submitting my work. Or if it's a tough day at work, I might spend the evening complaining and/or sleeping. I spend most of my waking hours feeling like I don't have enough waking hours. I often get really, really into something I'm writing or working on, and have to force myself to go to sleep so that I can be a functional adult in the morning (absolutely a requirement for my job).

What allows you to keep writing, even when you don’t want to?

I don't really force myself to write, except during a National Poetry Month 30/30 challenge. I'm friends with a lot of fiction writers (and ~more than friends~ with one) who emphasize the “butt in the seat” idea, putting in the time, word counts, progress, etc. I do feel this way when I'm working on a fiction project; I think I'm afraid of losing the thread. But with poetry, I really only write when I feel like it. Forcing myself to write doesn't work. So, that's one reason it could never pay the bills.

How do you define literary success?

For me, literary success means that the work keeps coming out of me, and it's new and interesting. I try not to focus on getting “better.” I understand that it's feasible for some writers to aim for supporting themselves financially with their writing and I think that's pretty awesome. I know that poetry will not pay my bills, and I'm okay with that.

What would you do if you didn’t write?

Maybe I'd get a side job that actually makes money! I like to work.

What is the most memorable writing advice you’ve ever heard?

I recently wrote about this in another interview, but I can't think of a close second to mention here. My writing / life mentor, Alisa Slaughter, advised me to keep pursuing interests, careers, cities, etc. Just to keep doing things that interested me. I think she was implying that having things to write about, and wanting to write about them, is far more important than honing craft. You can't say something well if you don't have anything to say.

What are you currently working on and where do you see yourself and your work in the next 5 months? 5 years?

I had 3 poetry chapbooks accepted for publication in the last year (yasss!), so I'm interested to see what goes into crafting and publishing a full-length collection. I'd love to have a full-length poetry book out within five years. And I'd really like to do something with all these fiction starts I have lying around! Despite reflecting earlier about how stressful fiction-writing is, it's a process with its own intrigue and rewards. I think I need big chunks of time to get into these, so I'm hoping I'll feel like working on them over the summers. In the next five months, I'd like to just keep plugging away and submitting to journals. I also recently did my first poetry reading, so I'd like to do more reading and interacting with the lit community in Portland.

Interview with Diana Marie Delgado

Diana Marie Delgado’s first chapbook Late-Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust won the 2015C enter for Book Art's chapbook competition. Diana and Porscha discussed poetry, publishing, diversity, and the importance of place. Highlights from that conversation are below.

Porscha Coleman: Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me tonight. Let’s start with a little background on you and your work.

Diana Maria Delgado: I am a Mexican-American writer who grew up in Southern California. I came to New York for grad school; to do my MFA at Columbia. Late Night Talks with Men I Think I Trust is my first chapbook.

I love the cover and the title of the book. Is there artwork in it?

Yes, there is artwork in the book. The thing that Center for Book Arts does is that they have artists illustrate and design the books. They create limited-edition letter-press printed chapbooks in collaboration with an artist.

How did you collaborate with the artists to come up with the images?

The artists are given the manuscript and come up with the art. I didn’t see it until about a week before I was supposed to give a reading from the book.

That must have been nerve wracking, especially with a first book?

Yes, definitely, I was nervous, but after seeing it I felt that the artist really captured the essence of the book. I love what they did with it.

I was really attracted to the title of the book, it was one of the things that made me really excited to talk to you. So excited, in fact, that I conducted this interview kind of backwards, I typically read the work before I talk to the author but I couldn’t wait to have this discussion! Where did the title for the book come from?

The title of the book came from reflecting on my upbringing in a traditional Mexican-American family, Chicano to be exact, and how that upbringing has influenced my relationships with men as an adult and noticing patterns in those interactions.

Ah, gotcha! Are there strong themes of place in the work?

Yes, absolutely. I go back to childhood and a lot of the poems are set in the kitchen of my family home. Place is a large part of it.

As a poet I absolutely relate to that, I think people generally underestimate the influence of place. For many of us where we are from has such strong influences on our outlooks, preferences, and experiences. I find that I cannot separate those themes in my writing. Is that your experience?

That’s been my experience. People have asked me why the themes of home, again, but home is a so specific to me and it comes up again and again in the writing. It’s the foundation and base for me.

Speaking of foundation and base, I want to ask you about your identity as a poet of color, a woman poet of color to be exact and how that has affected your writing and publishing?

There is a risk being a woman poet, women are taught to conform. As a woman of color there is an inherent weighing of Do I write as a woman writer or a writer of color? But there is still such a lack of diversity in publishing opportunities, and in the ways writing is taught and thought about, so it’s important for me to continue writing despite these conflicts surrounding my identity.

Read more of Diana's work by picking up a copy of her collection here.