Interviewing our Inaugural Five: The Offerings Interview Series 001

Interviewing our Inaugural Five: The Offerings Interview Series 001

Happy May to all!

We are celebrating all month long the end to the Ofrendas Press hiatus. Our EIC, Krizia completed her Bachelors degree. Now, she’s a Pitt graduate, and can focus on her craft. We have a new addition to the site: the Offerings Interview Series. With each issue we publish, we will interview the women who contribute to our site. In addition to getting to know Ofrendas writers, we will interview Latinx creatives, experts in the publishing field, readers of Ofrendas, and many others. In the first post of the series, we are interviewing Abigail, Chi, Ingrid, Katy, and Sarah. Their work was published in our inaugural online issue of Ofrendas Online, in March. Each woman were asked the same question and here are their collective responses.

Ofrendas Press: What is your heritage?

Abi Pearson: I come from a large Irish/German/Norwegian Catholic family, I'm the eldest of 11 siblings so growing up in our house was just a little bit wild! I honestly don't know a lot about my heritage.

Chi Ilochi: I am Nigerian and African American.

Ingrid Calderon-Collins: My heritage consists of volcanoes, parrots, boleros, casamiento, bistec encebollado, hard-women, metralletas, soft cries, plastic dolls, powdered milk, long hair, sad eyes.

Katy Telling: My cultural heritage is a montage of female writers, artists,and thinkers who came before me. I am a patchwork of modernists and non traditional experimental forms. I am every novella, art show, and subversive scribble, bottled up and shaken like the convenience store's finest champagne.

Sarah Little: My heritage is New Zealand European.

OP: Tell us about your writing. What do you write? Which topics?

AP: My writing can best be summed up by saying I write all things queer.  I write a lot of poetry, mostly dreamy free verse about girls loving girls. I also write short stories and novels.  Currently I'm writing a novel set in 1920 about a group of women who run a gay bar and how they lived, loved and survived.

CI: I have been writing since I was 7 years old. I began with haikus, short stories, poems, and songs. As I grew older, so did my work and its topics. I write and a wide range of topics that include politics, lifestyle, health and wellness, culture, and poetry.

ICC: Mainly, as we all do, I write about what I know and what I hope to never forget. Fears, love, sexual abuse, Mormonism, God, Satan, dichotomy, hypocrisy, sex, civil war El Salvador, Los Angeles, love, fucking, lust, love, always always love!

KT: I write whatever needs to be written, whether I am bursting with thoughts and emotions to clarify within myself or organic ideas desperate to come alive. I am writing every burst of inspiration. I particularly enjoy exploring themes of romance, scholasticism, and identity through lenses of feminism, mysticism, and mixed media.

SL: I write a lot of poetry and sometimes flash fiction, both of which tends to deal with the current things going on in my life. Most recently, I worked through a break-up by writing a lot of poetry around the topics of healing, hope, heartbreak. At other times I've written NaNoWriMo efforts, during which there have been cozy mysteries - a subset of the classic murder mystery genre, which tends to focus on amateur sleuths and life in small towns.

OP:What is the last book you read? Did you like it?

AP:Most recently I read a book on childhood trauma titled Childhood Disrupted by Donna Jackson Nakazawa. It was life changing for me, and has inspired me to go back to therapy.

CI: The last book I read was “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. Although I’m still reading it, I absolutely love it. It’s truly inspirational.

ICC:Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz. An important read. An important writer. I felt like an anthropologist coming upon sisterhood.

KT:I'm currently re-reading Franny and Zooey, written by JD Salinger, which I first read about fifteen years ago. Rereading the text has brought to light exactly how much Salinger's style has influenced my imagination. I love a good unreliable narrator. This time around I am noticing the vocabulary wonders, as well as, the subtlety of characters claiming one thing and the author descriptions of behavior in complete opposition to the dialogue. I have always credited The Confessionals, Modernists, and The Beat Poets with influencing my evolution of my work, but Salinger also deserves credit as a literary parent.

SL:I don't actually remember the title of the last book I read, but it was a cozy mystery. I didn't much like it, as evidenced by how I don't remember it. Mainly, this was because I felt the writing was a bit weak and things happened way too neatly for the characters - like how one character was short on money, and three pages later a sizable check literally falls out of an envelope from her mother. I'm all for suspending disbelief, on occasion, but I do feel it's a mechanism which the author should use sparingly

OP: What or Who inspires you?

AP:These days I find I am most inspired by queer activists and writers. I'm currently trying to learn more about the LGBTQA+ community of the past. I read Leslie Feinberg's book Stone Butch Blues and it completely changed my world. I would really like to read more books by queer activists, so if anyone has recommendations for me please fire away!

CI: Life itself as well as other creatives inspire me. Both go hand in hand in a sense but inspire me differently. When it comes to life, I’m inspired by the unknown, the changes it brings. Knowing that I can make my day the same as the day before, or better inspires me beyond measure. As it pertains to other creatives, I’m inspired by their concepts, their free spirits, their pushing the envelope mentality. I see it as if they can do it, then so can I.

ICC: There is enough life throbbing to inspire us to the next Ice Age.

KT:I am inspired by nature (human and otherwise). I am inspired by life and work; transitions and love. Most of all, I am inspired by my friends who are building spaces for their creative projects that they aren't seeing enough of. Creative designers,writers, and media people are building a new world for all of us. When I say friends, I mean the real people and trusted confidants that I can call for advice and opinions, as well as the amazing people I've met online while posting and searching for community.

SL: I'm inspired by challenge. Literal challenge, where someone lays down "I challenge you to write..." and my own challenges, and by learning. One thing I really enjoy is the sense where I feel like I can't do something, and so I learn it, and then it clicks. That's the best part. Also, I'm a bit inspired by being spiteful or petty, channeling it into something productive. I've written poems where I try to challenge the notion, for instance, that I'm supposed to be how someone else wants me to be.

OP: What day-jobs have you worked? If any has impacted you, explain how.

AP: Besides the odd babysitting job I have been unable to get a day job. My anxiety and depression have been too debilitating for me to find a job that would work for me.  I am very thankful to have a partner who can support me, and that I have the ability to freelance from home.

CI:I’ve held various jobs over my short years haha. Some ranging from cashier, mentor, app tester. One that impacted my writing was my job of cashier. I saw people at their highest, their lowest, and their confusion. When working with the public you better understand life and its fast hooks if you will. If I saw a customer that was happy that would affect my mood, ultimately making me want to write a happy / optimistic piece. If I saw a person sad, I would be as well, and ultimately lost my creative juices as a result.

ICC: Every job has inspired my writing. From my first job at McDonald’s, to my four-year stay at the Westfield Plaza at Sunglass Hut, to the wretched collection agency, the Public Library, to Vroman’s Bookstore, to my current job at a Continued Medical Education company where I work with a bunch of characters that I sometimes write about on my blog, Here is a link to my first entry.

KT: I believe that every encounter can become a poem or a work of art, so my day jobs have been influencing my work and are an invaluable source of material. I have worked for many years in the restaurant industry, which is a hotbed of characters and has given me a soft spot for creative food writing and art. Beyond that, one of the poems that I'm most proud of, but has yet to find a home, concerns my time working in a library.

SL: Day jobs, oh goodness! It's actually all been variations on a theme: call centre work. In some sense it does prompt the writing, either in a way of processing what happened, or pinning down something amusing, or as a way to escape from a tedious day. Creating a piece of my own world is what I really like to do, like when I've gone home from work in past years and worked on NaNoWriMo. Funnily enough, those are some of the times that the writing comes fastest, even when it's riddled with typos and probably doesn't make a lot of sense.

OP: What are your current projects?

AP: Besides the novel I mentioned earlier, I am also working on a collection of poetry titled My Womb is a Cathedral. Growing up my family were missionaries and devoutly religious, Catholicism marked every part of who I was and how I was raised. Today I'm Wiccan, bisexual and non-monogamous, everything about me is at odds with what my parents taught. This poetry collection is part farewell to childhood, part fuck you to patriarchal religions and part blasphemous fun. I hope to self-publish it sometime next year.

CI: Right now, I’m not working on anything in particular. I’m not trying to force anything, so I let it all come to me naturally. Taking everything and every creative spurt, I may have day by day.

ICC: A novelette and lullaby spoken through prose and poetry between the protagonist, Christ & Satan. A venture into the dichotomy of the human condition set as a background to discovering & finding love in a world tinged with the lack of. I like to keep things light now and again hahaha

KT: This past winter has been happily very prolific for me. I've been lucky enough to publish a number of visual poems with Soft Cartel, Honey and Lime Lit., and Ofrendas Press (of course!). My art has been featured on the Spring cover of Harbinger Asylum Literary Magazine by Transcendent zero Press. Beyond that, three of my original analog collages will be featured in the next edition of Botticelli Magazine, published by The Columbus School of Art and Design. There is more art coming this October with Mythic Picnic and I am in the process of designing a book cover for an upcoming anthology of previously rejected writing being published by Malarkey Books. Two of my long term projects are chapbooks, in different stages of editing. The first is Frozen Waves, a collection concerning the mid-Atlantic region of the US and the lovelorn ennui of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The second, still untitled, is a mystical collection of hybrid pieces and short poems about ghosts- the spirits of the dead and the spirits of modern dating who just can't bring themselves to say, "It's not me, it's you."

SL: Currently, my chief project is working on launching a literary magazine via Patreon called Ravens In The Attic, which has a focus on Gothic literature and its elements in literature.

OP: Which subjects or themes do you love to write about? Which do you seldom write?

AP: I write a lot about queer love and identity, a lot about my experience growing up in a missionary cult, a good deal about mental illness and of course nature (what poet doesn't?) I've even started trying my hand at poetry for children. It's interesting to ask what I seldom write, because I often find myself switching from project to project. But for as much as I also love cooking, I should probably write more about food!

CI: I absolutely love to write about myself as conceited as that may sound, ha. I love to write about my struggles, my pain, my wins my losses, in hopes of touching or inspiring another. I seldom write pieces about food, or sports, or tragedies. I love to stay positive and hopeful, not negative or cynical.

ICC: Love is my favorite. So is fucking. Making love. Sex. Love. It all goes back to love. I’ve been told that I have a tender way of talking/writing about fucking, so I think I’m doing something right. Usually, I don’t enjoy writing too much about my sexual abuse. Mostly, because personally, I don’t feel like a victim and because I’ve done a lot of heavy lifting in that department as far as healing goes, so I don’t feel like writing about my abuse is too crucial to my growth as a writer. I have plenty of other things to pull from. That is not to say that this can’t serve as a tool for other writers, I just don’t identify with it personally.

KT: I see a lot of recurring themes in my writing and the more I produce, the more patterns I become aware of. Originally, I was embarrassed as an intellectual to be writing, "love poetry", but in reality this is an eternal theme that humans of all stripes can relate to and witness from all angles. I still have things to say about love that have not been said, and more importantly, I am finding new ways to voice these things so that they appeal to some readers who wouldn't normally be reached by traditional forms. Though I studied politics in school and once thought that it could be my career, this is ironically not something that I often write about. I'm not so interested in tragedy...

SL: I love writing things like the cozy mysteries I mentioned above, because I enjoy putting the pieces together like a puzzle, and I also really enjoy delving into person-topics, like heartbreak or healing. Typically, it's the things someone else might read and really relate to that I enjoy; I don't think I could write abstract well. Also, I couldn't ever write horror, which might be a bit odd for someone with a Gothic magazine. Horror is kind of the line in the sand - I don't consume it, sort of, because I can't really stomach it, and I think that if I can't read it then I won't be able to write it.

OP: If you could meet anyone dead or alive for dinner, who would it be and why?

AP: I would love to someday meet Natalie Goldberg. I have read many of her books on writing and they have helped me so much. Writing Down the Bones is my favorite and I read it almost every year, I would love to have her sign it and just be able to talk with her about writing. I could learn so much!

CI: I would meet SZA hands down, no question. She is one of my biggest inspirations, and her spirit reminds me a lot of my own. I know it would be filled with great creativity, great conversation, and great food haha.

ICC: Charles Bukowski, Marlon Brando and Anais Nïn walk into a bar and say, “Hi Ingrid, what a pleasure to finally meet you.

KT: Alice B. Toklas. She invented the hash brownies and never hosted a boring dinner party in her life.

SL: Tough call! I suppose someone like Jane Austen or Mary Shelley. Someone of a bygone era, I'd love to pick their brains about their own personal lives and how it balanced against society to create their works.

OP: Share your favorite urban legend, myth, or folktale.

AP: I love myths! My love of mythology is what inspired me to found Cauldron Anthology, which is a magazine that is dedicated to telling the tales of women throughout mythology, though we have opened up the themes to other stories as well. Mythology has also inspired me to write a collection of poems about women associated with death, so far I've written about the Crone, Persephone, Kali and Hel. All of these women are so fascinating!

CI: I can’t say I have one, I was never really a fan of them. I could never get into it, I thought they were all kinda silly, ha.

ICC: Having the name Ingrid has made me curious about Scandinavian folklore. One of my favorites, because it also, interestingly enough, reminds me of my Mormon upbringing are the Myling. They are the phantasmal incarnations of the souls of unbaptized children that have been forced to roam the earth until they could persuade someone to bury them properly in a graveyard. Legend has it, that they grow heavier the closer they get to the graveyard having whoever is carrying them, sink into the ground. I also relate to them in the sense of revenge and/or haunting those who have wronged me at any point in my life. Bless the Scandinavians.

KT: Medusa. She appears in a number of my poems. Sometimes all of her, sometimes just snakes and stones. The "myth" of petrified men is still relevant in modern times.

SL: I've never had a particular favourite myth, mainly because I like reading mythology in general too much. I'm quite fond of Greek and Roman myth.

OP: What are you offering?

AP: I really hope to be offering stories and poetry that queer people can relate to and love. I love reading but sometimes it's frustrating to see such a huge lack of characters that are like me. So I hope that those who read my work are inspired and encouraged.

CI: I am offering authentic creativity and hopefully inspiration. Everything I create has a piece of me in it, it is from my heart, my soul, and my spirit.

ICC: I offer everything that I’m made of. I hope that’s enough.

KT: I am offering poetry for the non-romantic and art for the artless. I want to put my work in places that will shock and surprise. I want to reach people who wouldn't seek culture and literature on their own.

SL:At Ofrendas Press, I'm offering pieces of work wherein I try to challenge myself, or produce work that has the intent to heal, that people can lose themselves in. My literary magazine is included in this, and I'm publishing it with the intent of being able to create a place where people can earn money for their effort, a safe platform to explore Gothic elements in literature and a safe place overall. I want to use it as a platform for people who may not always have a voice, or feel they have a voice.

The author bios for these lovely women can be found here.

Follow and read their other works, you will not be disappointed.

I Finally Decided to Walk in My Purpose | Living, Learning and Growing with Chi Ilochi #1

I Finally Decided to Walk in My Purpose | Living, Learning and Growing with Chi Ilochi #1

Visual Poem by Katy Telling