by Tara Miller
Mari is a poet living and writing in Portland, Oregon. Her work explores themes of justice, addiction, race, and empowerment. Mari is especially interested in building and expanding her community through collaborations and the stories she shares.
Tara Miller: When and how did you start writing? And when did you start writing poetry, specifically?
Mari Shepard-Glenn: For me [writing] was a really healthy way to get my feelings out. And then in doing that and when I started to take writing classes in high school and college, I was able to dig deeper and dissect and understand more about why I write the way I do, my personal style. So that was really cool to define writing as my main creative outlet. And actually allow me to develop my craft and get better at it.
TM: Do you feel like you have a lot of support in your life for what you’re doing with your writing?
MSG: When I’ve shown my work to friends or family or even the literary community here, I have mostly gotten positive feedback and felt comfortable and welcomed. But at the same time, I’m not personally where I want to be with my work. And also I feel like I won’t make it until I get that terrible review or that harsh criticism from somebody who is a solid member of the community. Because it’s important to put yourself out there, and I feel like if everyone likes your work you’re doing something wrong because you’re not getting read by a diverse crowd.
Not to say that I don’t value where I’ve been, where I’ve read and the communities that have supported me. But I think it’s important to get your work read by a lot of different types of people, because then you might actually reach somebody who is not on board with what you stand for but they might learn something based on you sharing of yourself and maybe grow in themselves or take a different stance on some political or social issue.
TM: “Dan Eldon” and “Lynch Mob” are rich with political language and references. What is your perspective on incorporating politics into poetry? Can you tell us some future projects you want to work on?
MSG: Well I definitely want to do more of [incorporating politics]. My style is not completely in your face. I’m more subtle in how I frame my work and that’s true with my personality. I think it can be easier for people to digest and think about an issue when it’s tied in metaphorically but not so much that the poem comes off as vague. So I’m always trying to find a balance where I’m not being completely blunt but I’m still getting the point across.
[For some future projects] I want to do a series of poems, each one talking about different addictions. One on alcoholism, one on hard drugs, maybe eating disorders.
I [also] really want to collaborate. That is something I’ve always desired to do because I think there’s something really awesome and beautiful about sharing yourself with another artist. It’s like a magic that happens when you vibe well and you get together and create something from both of yourselves.
For more information, or to check out Mari's work, visit her website here.