1. How did you discover you were a poet/writer?
I am still discovering this. Every day I’m surprised when I still want to write, but I continue because it feels necessary. Ever since I was small, I would write fantastical stories, songs and poems on my dad’s yellow legal pads. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged my love of stories and storytelling. My dad has his MFA in poetry, and when I was young I was around a lot of writers, especially in Portsmouth, NH where we would go to visit friends. There was always a space for me to share my work, whether it was a living room or an open mic.
When I was in 3rd grade my dad brought me to a poetry slam at Prime Roast, a coffee shop in Keene, NH, where I shook and blushed and read a poem about my younger brother. I didn’t consider pursuing writing seriously until I was in college. I intended to major in Psychology and Anthropology. However, when I was taking Neuroscience and Shakespeare in the same semester, I realized that everything I wanted from studying the brain was more present and alive for me in the literature classroom.
2. What spaces do you like to create in?
I write on a lot on different forms of transportation (long bus trips, trains, planes). I can’t read on buses because I get motion-sick, but I can write! In earlier stages of writing, I like to be surrounded by people and their energy. When it comes time to focus and revise I tend to plant myself and prefer more private spaces.
3. Where’s your favorite place to write in Denver/Boulder?
I’ve always had satisfying experiences writing at Trident and Boulder Public Library, particularly the Seeds Cafe.
4. Who is someone you consider inspirational to your life/work and why?
My mother! She is a Brazilian guerreira who has never taken no for an answer. She was the first in her family to attend college. When she was pregnant with me, her first child, there were many complications and the doctor wanted to take me out at four months along to save her. She refused. The doctor said, “Do you want to die?” and she replied, “No, I want a second opinion.” That second opinion opened a new possibility and world where mother and daughter could live together.
This story inspires and propels me every time I feel defeat or exhaustion. Her humor, creativity, and dedication have set a gold standard for how I’d like to be a woman and creative person in this world. I also look to poets and writers such as Susan Maxwell, Hélène Cixous, Jennifer Egan, Jean Rhys, Audre Lorde, Fernando Pessoa, Lucas de Lima, Rachel Levitsky, and many more as guiding voices to my content and craft.
5. In a world with so much constant media and stimulation, what do you believe is the value of the written word?
Written language challenges us to engage, and it creates worlds and bridges within our bodies and in relation to life around us. There’s a transfer of energy and kind of alchemy too—a union between reader and writer that more instant gratification mediums don’t always offer. I log a lot of screen time and see potential in social media as a creative and democratizing force—but I find that most of my best ideas develop slowly and by hand.
6. What super power would you choose, and why?
Teleportation or invisibility. I’d love to move through more spaces, eavesdrop, watch, and learn.
Emily Duffy is Punch Drunk Press’s first featured writer this October. She is the space between snooze and the next alarm. A kaleidoscope of radical softness, vulnerability, feminine strength, and play feeds her poetics, pedagogy, and outreach work. As a second-year MFA student at the Jack Kerouac School, she consults in the Naropa Writing Center and teaches an undergraduate writing seminar. Her creative work has appeared in The Lantern, Aux./Vox., BEATS: A Naropan Periodical and Iron Horse Literary Review. She performs as Agent Sauvage with Boulder Burlesque and is the editor and publisher of Tooth n Nail: practical advice from and for the everywoman.
Featured Image by Emily Duffy. Author photograph by Kid Neon Photography.