The art of writing #11 : Molly Cross-Blanchard

How did you first come to poetry?

This is a question I’ve been asked before and I always answer in the same cringy but true way: I got my heart broken. While taking creative writing courses in my undergrad with the intention of becoming a fiction writer, my long-term relationship came to a dramatic and unceremonious end, and I found that writing anything but poetry just felt phony. I dabble in fiction now and plan to return to it, but for the time being I’ll ride the poetry wave as far as it’ll take me. It’s been over five years and I continue to write about the guy who broke my heart, and I feel bad for him because we’ve recently reconciled, but also #SorryNotSorry.

How does a poem begin?

Usually in my phone, when I’m walking to the bus and my mind needs a place to land while my body is moving. My notes are full of little scraps like The blonde ones are always getting sick and It’s time to stop fucking with lipstick and Can someone besides myself make me cum please. These bits and pieces sometimes act as nuclei for poems, or else I slot them into existing poems as additional set-dressing. And then there are those moments when a poem comes all at once, like hitting a Starman in Super Mario, and you’re fast and invincible for like five seconds, and then it ends, and you’ve got a draft that’s miraculously full of energy.

How did publishing your first chapbook change your writing?

I wouldn’t say it’s changed my writing, which is one of the reasons I’m so grateful to the folks at Rahila’s Ghost. They were encouraging of the voice I was already working in and didn’t ask me to alter it. It was the first time my work had been sought out in a way that couldn’t possibly be construed as nepotism. We’ve become friends through the publication process, but the inciting incident of our relationship was just that they appreciated my work, which has done wonders for my confidence, and my faith in what I’m doing.  

Have you a daily schedule by which you work, or are you working to fit this in between other activities?

No schedules. I write when I’m bored, or when I’m particularly caffeinated, or when I have a deadline. I just completed the last workshops of my MFA and will be editing my thesis (a poetry manuscript) over the summer while working as the poetry editor at PRISM international, so there will be no shortage of poetry in my life. During the space in between writing, I spend time eating with people I love, running in the forest, and consuming so, so, so much good and bad television.

What are your favourite print or online literary journals?

Room, for their community work and collaborative innovation. The Puritan, for the voice-richness of the pieces they publish. Red Rising, for their care and support of Indigenous artists of all kinds, on the prairie and beyond. Bad Nudes, for their contemporary aesthetic. And PRISM, because I’ve been behind the scenes and know the efforts that have been taken to offer a platform for important and systemically oppressed voices, especially by the outgoing content editors, Jasmine Sealy and Jessica Johns. The lit mag field needs more care-takers like them.

Who are some of the writers you are reading lately that most excite you?

I return again and again to work by Katherena Vermette, Hera Lindsay Bird, Kayla Czaga, Joshua Whitehead, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Elizabeth Bachinsky, Mallory Tater, Danez Smith, Morgan Parker, Natalie Shapero, Dorothea Lasky, and Rosanna Deerchild. But who I’m most excited about are my fellow classmates at UBC: Cara Nelissen, Jasmine Sealy, Jessica Johns, Selina Boan, Kate Black, Amy Higgins, Sara DeWaal, Emma Cleary, Loghan Paylor, and so many others. They make me hopeful for the future of this industry.

Molly Cross-Blanchard is a Métis writer from the prairie living, working, and learning on land belonging to the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. She is an MFA candidate at UBC, editor at PRISM international, and author of the chapbook “I Don’t Want to Tell You” with Rahila’s Ghost Press. Her work has appeared in CV2, Prairie Fire, The Malahat Review, In/Words, Canthius, Red Rising, and talking about strawberries all of the time.