Editor Interviews | Brice Maiurro


Brice Maiurro (he/him) is a poet from Earth. His work has been compiled into two collections, Stupid Flowers and Hero Victim Villain. He has been featured by The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Suspect Press, and Poets Reading the News. www.maiurro.co

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

John Lennon

What does this quote mean to you?

I think about this quote just about every day of my life. It’s so easy to get swept up in any moment into what seems so important, while those little things fly on by. Recently, I took care of a dog, a great dog, Garbanzo, while my friends were in the process of moving. I’ve never had a dog, I grew up with cats, and I was very excited. I felt like a little kid the whole time, taking him on walks, chasing him (or having him chase me) around the house, taking weekend naps curled up beside him, it was amazing. I work from home like a lot of us and analyzing business processes for a solar company felt really important until I’d look over and see Garbanzo, belly up, requesting a few good belly pats. Every day at work I told myself there was no time for me to go on a walk, but when I was watching Garbanzo, I was outside, bundled-up, several times a day and I was so happy about it.

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

Radical Dharma by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens and Jamine Syedullah. Since I was maybe 22, the ideologies of Buddhism have always resonated with. I was raised Catholic and that didn’t stick, but Buddhism has always made sense to me. It’s a religion, or ideology, built around intentionality and compassion. There’s a lot of wiggle room to find your own way within the forests it offers you. Especially something like Zen Buddhism, that often has an attitude of “always do this… unless it doesn’t work for you!” I appreciate the grey space, but found myself plateauing in my Buddhism over the last couple years, as with American Buddhism comes a lot of white people feeling kind sitting on a yoga mat while there’s big revolutions going on outside of its doors. Radical Dharma busted open those doors for me and showed me this new beautiful intersection of anti-racism with queerness with Buddhism. That you have to take your Buddhism practice into dismantling it all.

Lama Rod’s experiences of rejecting his Christian roots really resonated with me. He found he had a lot of anger, but opted to say “this isn’t for me” rather than “let’s burn this to the ground.” Rev. angel reminded me the ideas of existing in a state of not having all the answers, and expanded my ideas of queerness beyond gender and sexuality into a larger realm of seeing how binary thinking is so pervasive in the smallest microcosms of our culture to the very large interlocking systems of oppression that we should collectively disrupt and transition to a better place. Radical Dharma reminded me that our liberation is a collective liberation and we all have to use the tools we’ve been given to work together.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

I see it all as storytelling. In many ways, we all exist in silos. Storytelling is a way to peek into someone else’s silo, maybe inch their silo a little bit closer to our own. Storytelling can be a time capsule, it can be an exercise in compassion and solidarity, and I believe with the right considerations in place, it can be a therapy.

How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

I discovered poetry almost on accident. I just was bored and found myself messing around with words. The words led to more words, which led to poetry events, which led to a larger, though far from holistic, understanding of Denver’s communities, and through all of that, I’ve been able to teach things with my words, but what I love maybe more is being the student. I’m very blessed, in considering all my privilege, that for years I’ve had the chance to be exposed to the writing and art of so many people unlike myself. That continues to challenge me.

As for my writing now, writing is best for me when it’s fun. When I’m having fun, I feel like I’m doing something well.

What is something that matters to you?

Kindness matters to me. Small gestures that set the tone of the world we deserve to gift each other. Goofiness is a virtue of mine, sincerity. Cooking matters to me. I love that cooking offers me this chance to spend time by myself in the kitchen, and then share the rewards of that time with the people near and dear to my heart. My partner, Shelsea Ochoa, matters to me. She challenges me to do more and be more, and especially to be myself more.

Editor Interview | Huascar Medina


Huascar Medina, Poet Laureate of Kansas (2019-2021), is the Lit Editor for seveneightfive magazine and an Op-Ed writer for Kansas Reflector.  He’s published two collections of poetry Un Mango Grows in Kansas (2020) and How to Hang the Moon (2017). His words have appeared in The New York Times, Latino Book Review and elsewhere.

It is what it is.

Unknown

What does this quote mean to you?

A constant reminder that at the end of the day the universe will always have the last word.

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

“A Separate Peace” by John Knowles. At a young age, I learned that rivalry is the ego at war with itself.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

I commend creatives who expend so much energy trying to add light. When hope is a scarcity their work naturally intensifies. They shine a bit more through the darkness.  I view this abundance of output as a vigil for opportunity. A chance to see things in a new light —a beacon.  

How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

Poetry is a lens I apply outward and inward to observe, explore, evaluate, document and admire life. I am more aware with poetry.

What is something that matters to you?

My family, love, being kind, truth, equality and compassion. Being supportive of creatives. Finding/creating and accepting peace. Words.

Editor Interview | Erica Hoffmeister

Erica Hoffmeister was born and raised in the fragrant orange groves of Southern California, but has been chasing that elusive concept of home since she witnessed the vast, east Texan sky bloom on her first cross-country road trip at the age of seven. She now lives in Denver, where she teaches college writing and advocates for media literacy and digital citizenship. She is the author of two poetry collections: Lived in Bars (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019), and Roots Grew Wild (Kingdoms in the Wild Press, 2019), but considers herself a cross-genre writer and has a variety of work published in several journals and magazines. Learn more at: http://www.ericahoffmeister.com/

With all due respect, I’m not the one hanging off of the back of a ship here.

Jack Dawson, Titanic

What does this quote mean to you?

My undying love for Jack Dawson is not something to take lightly. So, let’s just start there: reading into Titanic quotes until you have some sort of identity crisis. Trust me—it’s kinda fun.

What books have made an important impact on you and why?

I’d love to make a long list of impressive poets and writers that have impacted the world in an important way, that we should all read and cry and joy over. But honestly, sometimes I feel like those lists are often just used to frame one’s writer ego. Kind of like the guy at the back of the venue that only listens to the most obscure bands. So, if I’m being honest, my list of most impactful books to me are probably not very impressive. I’m a simple girl. I like to read to escape. I read the Harry Potter series for the first time at age 25 and it changed my life. Before that, I basically only read anything about Paris because I’m a total Francophile – my favorite being Sacré Bleu by Christopher Moore. In grad school, reading War & Peace felt like the biggest accomplishment of my life, and was one of the most beautiful escapes I’d ever experienced. I took Into the Wild so seriously after one read, that I dropped out of school and hit the road for 6 months until I ran out of money somewhere in Kansas City. I can’t keep a copy of Prozac Nation on my shelf because I always end up giving it away to someone who needs it. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly remains my favorite book of all time, despite being written for eleven year old’s. I still cry my eyes out each and every time I re-read Cold Mountain. I had kids specifically so I could pass down my first edition Hardy Boys books to them. And yes, I own Twilight. What can I say? I just want an adventure and a good cry.

What is the value of writing and art in the current state of the world?

It is of the most value fathomable! The arts are our single most important tool for connection—to each other, the earth, our existence. For revolution, for joy. The world would be a better place if we could all just read and write and create and listen and love within our communities. The more we can inject our lives with spaces for art and creation, the better chance we have at surviving human beings’ imminent self-destruction. Or at least be able to enjoy the apocalypse with good books and a badass soundtrack. 

How has writing and art helped to form the person you are today?

You can’t disconnect writing and art from my identity. I don’t have memory that exists before I read and wrote stories. Books, music, movies—through these lenses are how I understand meaning in living. I simply can’t imagine me as a person without the conglomeration of created works of all artistic genres that live and breathe inside me. I basically contain a vast universe of song lyrics, film trivia, and sad poems all wrapped up in musty old pages of books.

What is something that matters to you?

Revolution! Words, art, movement, food, water, travel…literally all facets of society can—and should be—revolutionary. I try to live in a way that actively interrogates social norms—especially within the framework of American exceptionalism that the entire globe has suffered because of—and try to advocate for and alongside my community in ways that seek radical change for the better. As an educator, I prioritize digital and media literacy at the forefront of the people I have the most access to—my students—in hopes to build a generation of learners who understand the importance of free and true exchange of information. As a member of my community, I am politically active and am a member of the abolition group for Denver’s DSA organization. As a writer, I aim to use my tools and talent as a voice for trauma healing through art and writing. As an Aquarian, this is just how the blood runs through my body—radical rebellion following the winds of change, always.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the greatest television show that has ever existed. Fight me.