HCR is very happy to virtually sit down with poet and editor Hillary Leftwich, a native of Colorado who currently lives in Denver with her son. She is the co-host for At the Inkwell Reading Series in Denver and serves as the associate editor for The Conium Review. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in CCM’s “A Shadow Map Anthology,” Smokelong Quarterly’s “Why Flash Fiction?” series, The Missouri Review’s “Working Writers” series, The Review Review’s “Views on Publishing,” and other journals.
Scroll down below the interview for a poem of hers that we really love!
Hobo Camp Review: We’re coming to the end of the year here, so what is the best thing you’ve read in 2016, be it poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or something else?
Hillary Leftwich: Best fiction, hands down, Potted Meat by Steven Dunn. If you haven’t read it, get your hands on it. If you’re broke, email me your address and I’ll let you borrow mine. I’m not kidding.
Also, as far as poetry, "Resolution (6)" by Layli Long Soldier. This is an important poem for this year specifically with what is happening with our country and the Dakota Access Pipeline. This is also an important poem, not just for 2016, but in regards to the history Long Soldier speaks of. Read it.
HCR: What was your last “writing revelation,” a process or idea that made your writing easier, bolder, fresher, and/or more productive?
HL: I take something my son says, or a memory, and I write about in terms of dream language. There’s a moment right before you wake up, a moment when you still have one big toe in dreamland and the other in the waking world. I like to write from that space.
HCR: What place (city/town/region/room/middle of nowhere) has been an inspiration on your writing, and why?
HL: I can’t say there’s been a certain region that has been an inspiration. I think it’s more about history and sharing a certain perspective and whatever that place happens to be, there it is. I do find I tend to lean more towards nature. Growing up camping and spending a great deal of time outdoors in Colorado I think this left an impression on me that always tends to sneak out in my work.
HCR: What new project are you working on, and what’s the driving force/inspiration behind it? Tell us where we can find your work!
HL: I’m working on a collection of prose poems and flash fiction with poet and artist Charly Fasano. I don’t know how much I can say about it right now since we just started. Just know Charly is doing the artwork and he’s incredible.
I have work forthcoming in CCM’s Shadow Map Anthology that I’m really excited about. You can also find me in Matter Press, Smokelong Quarterly, Hobart, dogzplot and others.
HCR: You’re on the road with three other artists, of any era and medium, of any level of fame, success, or anonymity. Who do you choose, and why?
HL: Ai Ogawa. She was layered and fascinating and I’m sure she had wonderful stories to share. I feel a connection with her, perhaps because of her voice and her diverse ethnic background which comes through in her writing so well.
Zachary Schomburg. Because I want to know what it’s like to drive cross country with his brain on auto pilot.
Lucia Berlin. A Manual for Cleaning Women is one of my sacred books. As a woman, a single mother, and a part-time professional maid, I relate a lot to Lucia and her writing. I have worn many hats in my lifetime and every one of them winds up in my writing.
by Hillary Leftwich
I used to bury my mother’s lockets in the backyard. Planted peach pits. Nothing ever grew except me and my brother and we outgrew the yard so we started setting fires in the alleys and breaking into the neighbor’s houses but not to steal. We only rearranged their furniture. I pierced my bellybutton with a safety pin, pushed it halfway through and stopped, lost my virginity in the basement of my dad’s house. I almost killed my friend driving too fast on a mountain curve. I never saw the deer crossing the road because I was venting about a boy.
There was always a boy back then wanting me but not wanting me in the easy teenage way of fucking in other people’s basements or cars but never our own. I hid myself in closets, kissed the mouths of other women’s husbands. I tried to arrange myself in bedrooms, houses, lives I didn’t belong in. I am staring at myself in a mirror that doesn’t belong to me—I don’t recognize myself.
Help find me in the harsh needles of the pine trees along route 36, in the body of a deer still moving on the side of the road, in the fruit left to rot in the alleys, in my mother’s rough sketches—see? Even the red hot end of the cigarette in my father’s mouth still burns my name when it touches my skin and tells me I have found you.