Trista Edwards’ piece “Holding a Dying Creature” appears in Midwestern Gothic Issue 21, out now.
What’s your connection to the Midwest, and how has the region influenced your writing?
I was born in a small town in northern Ohio. I lived there until I was thirteen when my father’s job transplanted our family to the south. The Ohio landscape has always stayed with me—the farms, orchards, cornfields, county fairs, the woods. I attribute Ohio as the place where I first fell in love with nature and acknowledged the wealth of inspiration that land can provide.
What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Midwest?
The vastness. The flat land that you can stand on and see for miles. It makes you feel so small and reminds you of your smallness in the grand cosmic picture. Some people despise this about the Midwest; I find it tantalizing. It is like being in an ocean on land in that the horizon is so immense and infinite you feel like it could consume you. It calls to my desire to lose myself in something bigger.
How do your experiences or memories of specific places—such as where you grew up, or a place you’ve visited that you can’t get out of your head—play a role in your writing?
I find that my writing is obsessed with orchards, especially apple orchards, and the fall harvest. When I was child, we would always head to the local orchard in the fall for cider, haunted hay rides, pumpkin harvests, and bonfires. Autumn is a beautiful and magical time in Ohio. When I moved to Georgia, what I missed most about Ohio was the array of burnt colors as the leaves changed, the appreciation for and the grandeur of Halloween (which I found lacking in the Bible Belt), and I have never been able to locate an apple that tastes as good as one picked from a tree in the land of buckeyes. The region seems to luxuriate in the season of decay. I find beauty in this. Autumn encompasses an abundance of rituals that only lead to impending renewal. It is enchanting. My writing tends to focus on the occult, the feminine, and the contagion of objects. I find I can trace this all back to one object, the apple—like the crisp Ohio Macintoshes of my youth.
Discuss your writing process — inspirations, ideal environments, how you deal with writer’s block.
I tend to write best in the afternoon. For whatever reason I feel my most creative energies surge around five o’clock when there are a few sun-warmed hours left in the day. At home I find a lot of distractions and I typically have to camp out in a local coffee shop in order to get some writing in. I think, in a way, it feels like I am “going to work” when I write outside the home. The shift in environment and the act of relocating to a workspace helps get me into a different frame of mind. Really any change in a writing environment can set me off. I tend to not write in any one given place, which is to say I don’t have a typical or ideal spot. As for writer’s block, I just struggle with writing everyday or even longer periods of time. I succumb to this block in motivation as many do from time to time. During these times I will read a lot, particularly non-fiction. Reading always helps spark a new thought or idea or sometimes helps me remember an old one I had forgotten about.
How can you tell when a piece of writing is finished?
I am a believer in that age-old mantra that a poem is never finished; it is only abandoned. I revise poems that have been published. I revise poems that are years old. I revise poems that I thought were “done.” Eventually though there comes a time when you simply have to walk away. Mostly, however, I call something finished after a lot of work has gone into it and I experience a feeling of pride. If I read over a poem I have written and feel that I would be proud to share it with others, for it to “go public,” then I deem it done. In the end, I want my poems to be haunting because that is a feeling I seek when I read others’. I want poems that never leave me.
Who is your favorite author (fiction writer or poet), and what draws you to their work?
Of course I have many favorite writers; it is hard to pick the ultimate ONE. Yet, I find fiction writer, Julia Elliot and myself currently possessed by the poet Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Pegeen Kelly’s poems are so lovely and absurd that I often feel like I’m stumbling into a secret garden or traveling through Lewis’s wardrobe. They evoke sadness and beauty and longing. I aspire to write poetry with the same elegance for the grotesque that Elliot infuses in her short fiction. Her stories are dark and surreal yet I feel like I could have lived every one of them. Both writers are gothic in the sense they exhibit horror and romance. I’m undoubtedly attracted to these sensibilities.
What’s next for you?
I’m very honored to be a part of The Adroit Journal’s Summer Mentorship program in the coming months. I will be mentoring high school aged poets from around the globe and I am giddy to meet them and their writing. I am also currently at work on my first poetry manuscript. It will, of course, have lots of apples.
Where can we find more information about you?
You can find me on at my blog, Marvel + Moon (marvelandmoon.com) where I write about poetry, travel, and things that haunt or follow me on Instagram (handle: marvel_and_moon) for a more visual telling of my poetry insights. Also, lots of pictures of my dog, coffee, and what books I’m reading.