1. When did you start writing?
"I started writing as a kid in dollar store composition notebooks. I tried writing novels for the longest time and eventually at around 14 I started trying to write novels parodying my friends and our relationships. But I didn’t start writing poetry in any kind of serious way until college when a professor told me that everyone can write poetry and I just hadn’t written any I like yet. I took that to heart and in the end of 2019 I started writing poetry but I started writing poetry in earnest in the fall of 2020."
2. This is the first year you had poems published. Congrats! How did you come to send work out to literary magazines?
"One my all-time favorite college professors Dr. Jaydn Dewald introduced me to the world of chapbooks and online literary magazines in my first creative writing class with him and I fell in love with the indie world of poetry publishing. I saw online literary magazines as an easy entrance into the world of publishing my writing which has always been my dream and started by submitting to a pandemic anthology which rejected me. But in January I just started submitting over and over again until I finally got an acceptance from Wrongdoing Mag."
3. What is your method of writing? Notebooks, computer?
"Typically, I write in Microsoft Word on my laptop unless I’m struck by an idea then I’ll quickly open my huge document for poetry and quickly jot it down. Due to having ADHD and slow handwriting I try and stay away from writing poems down because my brain ends up moving faster than my hands can."
4. Could you share your process and thoughts on writing?
"Okay yes. I love this question. I think that writing and sharing stories and words and thoughts is one of the most intrinsic parts of the human experience. We as a culture especially here in the west don’t necessarily value stories outside of the literary communities and I think that writing is such a fundamental part of living. Which kind of why my ‘process’ is less about trying to force out certain things that I want to write about and more about writing the things that want to be written. So, instead of having certain writing rituals I more so, have rules for when I can and can’t write. Like I don’t write under the influence of any sort of recreational substance. I don’t write early in the morning at home. I can write if I’m sad only if I’m not avoiding feeling the emotion. Writing is so cathartic for me and I think by just allowing myself the freedom of writing what my brain is throwing out at me with no consequences produces my best work."
5. How do you title poems?
"This is so funny to me as a question because I’ve talked at length with my friends about this and my titles kind of just come to me. I’ll leave pieces untitled for the longest time until the title appears in my head. They usually reflect the vibe of the work more than anything else and no two poems are titled the same way."
6. How do you know when a poem is done?
"So, in the same vein the poem itself kind of just tells me. I’m big on listening to your writing and I do a lot of reading out loud in my room to myself and my dog Tiffany. I love big images and I love leaving poems hanging on by one last big image. So, I just wait until when I read it out loud I get goosebumps or think to myself, ‘If someone else wrote this I’d never stop thinking about it.’"
7. What do you hope people take away from your work?
"I want people to have the images stuck in their head for days. I love poetry that can inspire art and music and any sort of creative pursuit and I want people to read my work and imagine it in a million other artistic formats. I think it’s so important that art is constantly in conversation with the past and future and I would love for people to think about other things they’ve read or watched or listened to. There is a community of poetry readers on Tumblr that make collages of art, poetry and literature and it is my absolute dream to be included in one. So, if people close my work thinking a million other thoughts and tying it to other art I think I’ve accomplished my goal."
8. What project(s) do you hope to take on?
"I eventually want to query a chapbook of southern gothic fusion poetry this Fall. But, long term I would love to get more involved in the guest reader / editor of literary magazine side of things. Curation of art is one of my favorite things in the world and I’d love to work with a magazine to help get great writing out into the world. The world needs great art and to be apart of the process of getting it out there is the dream."
9. What writing advice do you find totally useless?
"‘Write drunk, edit sober.’ I that this phrase completely lacks nuance and if taken at face value could actual be a detriment to the artistic process. Because if you wanted to tell people to write honestly and edit with impunity I don’t understand why you wouldn’t just say that. It absolutely infuriates me when people throw this advice at new writers. Your artistic process shouldn’t hinge on anything other than the want to create and I think this phrase really causes more harm than good."
10. And finally, what do you enjoy doing that you don’t talk about enough. Tell me all about it!
"I breed and train dogs! I work with an amazing responsible breeding program in the south and through that I get to work with German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Newfoundlands. I stay home and train the dogs I my best friend and I own together. We work together to get them titled in dog shows and keep them healthy and happy. Recently one of our sheppies won her first title in show and two more are slated to show later this month. I love working with dogs and keeping up with their training and maintenance. I love them like family and they frequently inspire poems. My first accepted poem actually features a line about Bucket one of our sheppies. I absolutely love them all will talk on and on about them given the chance but that can lead to rambling."
Hear Calia read her poem "vanilla bean chapstick."
Calia Jane Mayfield is a Black southern poet originally from Georgia who now resides in South Carolina with her best friend and many dogs. Her other writings are available in Wrongdoing Mag, Not Deer, and Poetically Mag.
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