Contributor Interview: Mary Christensen

As part of the launch of our Spring/Summer 2018 issue, Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts, we sat down with contributors to talk about their work in the issue and more. The following interview is part of this series. Please visit our website to see the complete list of contributors to Let Us Gather, to purchase the issue, or to subscribe.


Tell us a little about your work in Let Us Gather: Diversity and the Arts: what inspired it, how you came to write it, etc.

Both poems deal with the liminal space that comes with being multi-racial. It’s that feeling of “otherness,” of not perfectly fitting certain aspects of a race or culture, though your grandmother or first cousin might. Quite a few of my poems explore this. “Curating” looks at this through a made up scenario, while the fashion exhibit in “Out of Style” really did come to an art museum in Portland, Oregon, and my significant other really did take me to it.

Do you have a favorite line, image, or scene from this work?

Oh, this is hard. Both of these poems are ones that I’m very proud of, and they were staple pieces of my M.F.A. thesis. If I had to pick, though, I really do like the Trail of Tears painting scene in “Curating.”

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

Read. Read the genres you write, read the styles you write, read the genres you don’t write and the styles you don’t necessarily like. You’ll be surprised by what will inspire you or help better your skills, even if you just learn what you don’t want to do.

Tell us something fun, strange, or interesting about yourself. It can have to do with writing—or not!

I guess this isn’t too strange for writers, but I read my writing out loud as I go. I like to know how things sound not in my head, and this especially helps with editing. However, if you mumble to yourself in coffee shops you may get strange looks and people may not sit next to you. And here’s something not writing related: I’m really really into horror movies and for the most part, that’s pretty much the only genre I’ll watch.

What’s on the writing horizon for you/what are you working on now?

I’m currently sending out my chapbook manuscript, and am attempting to re-work my full-length manuscript.

Mary Leauna Christensen has lived in Southwest deserts and in kudzu-infested Appalachia and currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. She has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University and is an assistant poetry editor for The Swamp. Her work can be found in Permafrost, Driftwood Press, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry, among other publications.

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