Contributor Spotlight: Felicia Zamora

Felicia Zamora’s poem “Blue Jays in the Yard” is featured in Issue 75 of the Bellingham Review

What would you like to share with our readers about the work you contributed to the Bellingham Review?

This poem arose from one of those moments when I was stuck in my head, constantly agonizing over the same situations in my daily life. I was sitting in my office, entranced in online research, and as my eyes left the screen, these blue jays appeared in my yard below. They were so vibrant, so playful, so immediate. It was a moment of clarity. A moment when you know you’ve been putting your energy in the wrong place. A moment when you realize that you’re missing something—that something is leading you out of yourself, asking for something more.

Tell us about your writing life.

I’ve been writing intentionally since about 2005. I’ve had words in my bones since I can remember, and yet only recently started acknowledging myself as a writer in the past five years. All this internal mongering happens when we choose to become something we don’t know we are ready for, you know? The MFA program at Colorado State University brought me to be brave in my poetry and in affirming that I am truly a writer.

Writing is that trifecta between love, obsession, and need for me. I write because something inside howls until I do. I evolve every day when it comes to writing: learning something new about myself, the world, and words all the time. I guess I am always molding and molded-from as an artist. Lots of societal questions right now, political and historical happenings shaping the world—some terrifying and some inspiring.

Which non-writing aspect(s) of your life most influences your writing?

My influences are pretty dynamic, but the natural world (and me as a natural being in the world). My family and family history. Place as a thing that culls me. My partner. The society in which I live, the political heaviness, the human struggles in our country. Art always influences art. Social justice and the fight for equity.

What writing advice has stayed with you?

Write. Just write. As my mentor, Dan Beachy-Quick, said, “Trust the process.” It truly is an artist process and sometimes we need our intention and our planning to get out of the way of the art. There’s a time for all of it, but the process guides so much. I constantly wonder what am I going to reveal to myself today.

What is your favorite book (or essay, poem, short story)? Favorite writer(s)?

What Work Is by Philip Levine, She Had Some Horse by Joy Harjo, After Lorca by Jack Spicer, The Book of Things by Aleš Šteger, and so many more. These are just my go-to favorites.

What are you reading right now?

Right now I am reading Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf, newly released from Alice James Press. It’s an astonishing book of poems. Before Akbar’s book, I finished Andrés Montoya’s posthumous poetry collection, A Jury of Trees, which is a moving and hard read, but also lovely and important.

What project(s) are you working on now, or next?

Well, I just finished my sixth manuscript in April. Took a few months off to breathe, take a new job, and move from CO to AZ…so I am just getting into something new. The process has yet to reveal the project to me. But I trust.

Anything else our readers might want to know about you?

I love horror movies. Even the B movies, the ones others are not willing to watch. October is my favorite month; all month long I say to Chris (my partner), “Hey, it’s a Tuesday in October, maybe we should watch a scary movie?” He loves me deeply to put up with this obsession.

Where can our readers connect with you online?

FELICIA ZAMORA is the author of the books Of Form & Gather, winner of the 2016 Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (University of Notre Dame Press 2017), & in Open, Marvel (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press 2017), and Instrument of Gaps (Slope Editions 2017). Of Form & Gather was listed as one of the “9 Outstanding Latino Books Recently Published by Independent and University Presses” by NBC News. She won the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize from Verse, and authored two chapbooks. Her published works may be found or forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly ReviewBeloit Poetry ReviewColumbia Poetry ReviewCrazyhorseHotel AmerikaIndiana ReviewjubilatMeridianNotre Dame ReviewNorth American ReviewOmniVersePleiadesPoetry DailyPoetry NorthwestPrairie SchoonerPuerto del SolSugar House ReviewTarpaulin Sky MagazineThe Adirondack ReviewThe Cincinnati ReviewThe Georgia ReviewThe Michigan QuarterlyTriQuarterly ReviewTupelo QuarterlyVerse DailyWitness MagazineWest Branch, and others. She is an associate poetry editor for the Colorado Review and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Colorado State University. She is the 2017 Poet Laureate for Fort Collins, CO and the education programs coordinator for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She lives in Phoenix, AZ with her partner Chris and their two dogs.

Featured Image: “Blue Jay” by Bill Ashley