Editor Interviews | Emylee Amber

Emylee Amber is an observer of the stars and an architect of art built on a foundation of words. She is passionate about music and helps her partner construct poetry to the sky with his band, Saeva. While observing the stars, Emylee runs her own Instagram based on the movements of the planets and other astrology-based information @eclipselunairee. Emylee is wandering about the Centennial State. Searching for things and those that peak her curiosity, while finding comfort in the embrace of the mountains and magic surrounding her. She contributed to Thought For Food (South Broadway Press, 2020) by editing the anthology and publishing her poem, Speak to Me.

Remember this place- we watched the skies turn dark and the leaves start their journey away.

The golden hour lasted forever and I couldn’t imagine calling any other place home.

It feels like we were dreaming the whole time- it was as though that quiet would last forever.

Unknown – Found on the bathroom wall at RitualCravt’s old location

What does this quote mean to you?

This quote found me when I was in the midst of an identity crisis. I had been wandering around for what felt decades in a vessel I hardly knew. It was the spring of 2018, after a brutal breakup that left me without many friends — in a city that I was from, but hadn’t grown up in. So everyone, including myself, was a stranger. Anonymous. I desperately wanted to embrace a feeling that felt like home, where I could recognize and understand myself. I was at an Astrology workshop at RitualCravt attempting to use the stars to lead me to this lingering desire. This quote was hanging above the light switch in the bathroom of RitualCravt’s old location. 

Upon reading it, I immediately felt seen. Heard. Understood. I knew of this place and it had felt like a “home”. I was saying goodbye to it, over and over again. Yet, at the same time, this reminded me that “this place” has yet to come. I will have another moment of quiet within the golden hour, and again, it will feel but only of a dream that was to last forever; and that’s the beauty of it.

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

Outside of my collection of art, occult, and poetry books — the most important impact I’ve had with stories wasn’t in a book at all. When I was a little monster, I had the hardest time falling asleep. My mother would lay with me in order for me to knock out. Most nights I couldn’t wind down, so eventually my mom started telling me bed-time stories. My favorite one, in particular, was about a little grey mouse who lived in a little grey house. She and I created a whole family for Little Grey, including his best friend Byron Brown. I can still picture the town I imagined in my head for him; I can see his favorite ice cream shop and the baseball fields Little Grey and his older brother, Fred, would practice at. The way my mom went into detail and came up with adventures meant the world to me. It helped me foster my imagination and showed me the importance of words. 

At a certain point in my childhood, I had drawn a map of Little Grey’s town. I came up with a story web on how each person in the town was related. I even started to draw pictures of Little Grey and his family. Unfortunately, the drafting of those stories into physical form never came to fruition since I could never fully remember them after a night of sleep. Yet, I will hold those memories dear in my heart. Maybe one day Little Grey’s adventures will be written again but until then I will remember to play in my imagination, use my words to tell stories or open up important conversations and remember sometimes the best stories can’t always be retold.

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

Priceless. Art has and will always be priceless, no matter the media. It tells a story. It’s a piece of history, of not only your life, but the world that once was and will be. It’s an escape, yet it is also a connection. It’s a song. It’s a smile. It’s that weird meme you came across on the internet that hits a little too close to home. Art is in everything that we do, that we speak, feel, touch, see, dream, and heck, even all of us are pieces of art too. 

This moment in history we are living in is the best time to remind society of the recognition art deserves. Let’s put pressure on those that do not recognize the impact of art and remind them that without art, they wouldn’t even be here; yes, corporations and the United States government — I am looking at you. Now is the time to use all of the medians we have at our disposal to break down those barriers, mark our history, and make our voices heard. Make our beliefs seen. Make the world remember that art is in you and me. Art is priceless.

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

To be frank, I wouldn’t still be on this planet without writing and art. As a child, I was constantly living in my imagination. I sang from the time I knew how to make noise, started drawing as soon as my parent’s felt comfortable with me to use a writing utensil, and eventually fell in love with writing and storytelling. In middle school, we did a poetry course and I was enamored by the concept of expressing oneself in word play, exaggerated sentence structures, and without even addressing the topic. Eventually, it was the only way I could cope with my mental health and I found a lot of solace in this space I had cultivated for myself. Writing had been such a private avenue for me. I only shared my pieces to those I felt like would be the most connected to the matter. 

When I moved back to Colorado after graduating high school in Illinois, poetry led me to many friendships and opportunities within the Denver community. A professor-turned-friend, Tara Shea Burke, would seek out poetry readings at Mercury Café and Book Bar while encouraging me to not only tag along for the adventure, but to also share my pieces to a live audience. It was exhilarating. Those moments are what led me to having this opportunity to be an Editor with South Broadway Press, while also having the confidence to work on my own art within my astrology work and musical collaborations with my partner. (P.S. You need to check out Tara’s work — it is phenomenal!)

What is something that matters to you?

I’ll be honest, this is the last question I answered in this interview. There are a plethora of aspects within our society and life that matter to me, yet they all result back to people. So, I would say people matter to me. People’s behaviors, stories, opinions, and truths — what makes them so incredibly human; I can’t get enough of how important all of those little tidbits are. To how they will see the world around them and with those perspectives how it will impact their actions, shape their world and mine. 

I could spend hours observing people and trying to learn their story, while taking several days speaking with them to understand the shape they hold within this universe. I want to know what has taught them to grow and what they are still healing from. I want to know what they believe in and see if their beliefs are something that could hold truth in my world. 

It’s also a pastime of mine to try and figure out people’s planet placements within their natal chart by interacting with them. Since it helps me with understanding one of my passions but it also shows me that people aren’t black and white. As stated before, they are frickin’ art and they matter even if there are obstacles in our world showing them differently.

Anything else you’d like people to know?

You can find me slingin’ cards virtually or in a small gathering of friends almost weekly to play Magic: The Gathering. I almost picked my favorite flavor text, “Your life will set with the sun”, as my quote for this interview. If I’m not casting spells, I can be found listening to The Cure and Depeche Mode while wallowing in my teenage-angst by still being 110% obsessed with My Chemical Romance. Yes, I’m crying because I miss concerts.

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.