Nine Questions with Lora Mathis |The Dance Interview Series

This is part two of our time with Lora Mathis, you can read part one, a review of her latest book, here!

Lora Mathis is the Director of Purchasing and Visual Arts Curator for Where Are You Press. She is a poet and photographer from San Diego. Author of the poetry collections “bigger bolder less pathetic” and “i forgive everyone,” she also co-runs the zine press ink/paper press. Her photography and poetry has been featured in The Fem Lit Mag, Words Dance, and Vagabond City Lit. She currently lives in Portland, OR. Where Are You Press published her latest book, The Women Widowed to Themselves.

DMR : If you could begin this interview, what question would you ask yourself?

LM : What were potential book titles for your latest collection of poetry?

Drunk Dialing My Mom

I Already Have My Dogs, Why Do I Need You?

Nudes I Forgot To Send

How Am I Doing? Well I Wrote Three Poems Today So How Do You Think? fKn Awesome

I Wrote A Bunch Of Shitty Poetry To Combat Being Lonely and Somehow Gained Online Success Because Of It

Rewearing Last Night’s Makeup Is A Financially Sound Decision

I Wrote This Because I Was Too Afraid To Say It Aloud

DMR : You’re an artist of many mediums – is there one you prefer? Do you prefer creating visual art over the written word or are they simply different means of expression?

LM : I gravitate towards poetry and photography but also like painting and making music. Of course I have an appreciation for certain mediums, but I also simply enjoy the process of creating. I’ve got a lot of myself to get rid of. I want to find as many ways of expressing myself as possible.

DMR : If you could give one word of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?

LM : Try to write what you would like to read in that moment.

DMR : How does it feel knowing you are reaching such a vast audience? And as an add-on question, does the knowledge that you have such a large audience ever affect your writing (eg: it’s quality, content, or style)?

LM : It’s terrifying, unbelievably flattering, and at times, freeing. Once strangers know your intimate, late-night thoughts, what else is there to hide?

This pressure of knowing people read my work has kept me from writing at all because I felt like I had to only write the best stuff. My problem is that I often write pieces online and then publish them immediately, with minimal editing. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, but this practice has forced me to become a sharper writer.

DMR : Your work seems to address a variety of feminist issues. Is this your intent when writing certain pieces or simply an effect of writing about the experiences of being a woman?

LM : At times, I am upset about something I have experienced or seen in the world and critique it through a Feminist lens. That doesn’t come from being a woman, as all women have different experiences and mine definitely do not cover the spectrum of Feminism. I don’t think, oh I’m going to write a Feminist piece now. I think, I’m going to write a piece articulating my thoughts and those thoughts are often, as I am, Feminist.

DMR : Do you have any writing habits or rituals? Any particular routine you follow when crafting a piece?

LM : No! I wish I did. Maybe I will adopt some to have a more interesting answer for this next time!

This isn’t a ritual, but I sometimes write stream of consciousness poems on my arms and then wash them off in the shower. Knowing that I’m going to wash the words off takes off the pressure of saying anything purposeful and allows me to simply write.

DMR : Writer’s block – does it exist or is it self-imposed?

LM : When a writer complains of writer’s block, I think that they’re capable of writing, but are not writing anything they deem “good.” I feel this way often, but don’t let that stop me from writing because the bad poems and unfinished thoughts often turn into longer, better-articulated pieces. Writer’s block is choosing only to write when inspiration hits, but sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

DMR : My favourite question to ask fellow writers – what is your favourite thing you’ve ever written, whether it is a poem in its entirety, a short extract, or an even shorter quotation?

LM : I recently wrote this about healing:

Some days you will feel like the ocean. Others you will feel like you are drowning in it.

It is simple but makes me feel surer in myself.

DMR : Tell us about your latest collection The Women Widowed to Themselves? What does the collection mean to you? What did the process of putting it together look like? And how did you feel when you first held it in your hands?

LM : The collection is almost a year of compiling, of throwing out, of trying to get to the root of what I wanted to say. It feels very true to a self I was a year ago. Many of the poems were written during that time and the book preserves that period of my life. I changed the manuscript four times. I threw out poems, I added new ones, I changed the order. Where Are You Press and I talked about putting out a book earlier in the year, but I took a lot of time to send the manuscript over, then changed it. I wanted it to be a complete, concise articulation of myself. Holding it in my hands, I felt so proud. Now I’m ready for the next project.

Check out more of Lora’s work on her blog, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter!

Read her poem, “Cool Girl” on Words Dance here & she was also the featured artist in Words Dance 17, check out her work paired with each poem featured in the issue!

Thank you, Lora!

Contributing Editor /

Donna-Marie Riley currently resides in the South West of England. She is author of the poetry collection Love and Other Small Wars, published by Words Dance, and also featured in Between Sentiment and Sensation: Vol I, published by Red Paint Hill. She romanticizes cold coffee and bitten nails and she likes her poetry shaken, not stirred.