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Spotlight On: Emryse Geye

Emryse is a poet and chemist studying as a graduate student at PSU who contributed to Pathos Literary Magazine in the Winter 2017 and Spring 2018 editions.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

Q: Where do you draw inspiration from?

A: Well, a lot of my pieces are about my relationships with my family, my body, and my queerness, so the experiences in my life that are heavy or difficult to process sometimes end up becoming poems, but to make those big feelings approachable and manageable, I often have to filter them through my lens as a chemist or use other systematic frameworks. Therefore, a lot of my pieces end up reading kind of like essays with this very structured argument.

Some poets that inspire me are Hanif Abdurraquib because he’s really good at this approach, and has a lot of overlap between his poetic and essay-writing styles; then Kevin Kantor is a poet who has really dramatic and clever wordplay and structures, which helps me to be more innovative and engaging; and finally Bianca Phipps really lives very deeply in her feelings in her poems and is always challenging herself with new formats and so she inspires me to be as truthful as I can and to be more flexible in my writing practice.

Q: What do you do about creative blocks?

A: Basically, I just go work on something else. For me, it helps to keep a spreadsheet where I track poems that are in progress, and so when I am feeling creative but directionless, I will look back at this list and see if there’s one to which I can add. This means I am a really slow writer—I have several pieces that have taken me four years to write, because if it is not the right time for me to finish them, I just wait until it is. However, as a chemistry doctoral student, there are a million other things I should be doing at any given time rather than writing poetry, and stepping away from writing helps me look at both my coursework and the piece in a different direction, anyway.

Q: What projects are you currently working on?

A: Lately, I’ve been putting graphics of some quotes from my pieces on Instagram; it’s a nice way to teach myself some basic graphic design and to advertise when individual pieces get published. I also am just about finished with all the poems for a full-length collection, so I am trying to crank those out and then organize and format the manuscript in order to shop it around to publishers. Finally, there’s that pesky dissertation I should probably be toiling away on. :/

Q: What are your goals?

A: Ideally, after finishing my doctorate, I want to be able to support myself through a poetry MFA. I feel like I have a lot to learn, and that it might lend some credibility to my writing, especially as someone who works in STEM. In the more immediate future, I would love to be on another poetry slam team, but because of the time-consuming nature of graduate school, I’ve been focusing more on filling out my publication resume—sending out individual pieces to appropriate publications and trying to just get my name out there as much as I can.

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