with Laura Grevel:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Laura: I started writing when I was 17, mostly essays. My first influences were my storytelling grandparents, the books I read, nature, and the visual arts. I loved to listen to people tell stories. I loved to read—fiction, essays, poetry, mysteries. I loved plants and flowers and parks and west Texas and Mexico. I loved the paintings and sculpture of my parents and their artist friends.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Laura: My biggest influences today are my many poetry friends in the East Midlands, UK, and my two poetry workshop groups, Write The Poem and the Paper Cranes Collective. During the pandemic, Zoom Open Mics have also given me exposure to many poets from all over. Hearing these various poets read their work aloud and reading their poetry books and blogs give me new food for thought. I also read various famous poets, both dead and alive.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
I grew up in Austin, Texas, which was a creative, open-minded city where artists were celebrated. Visual artists, musicians, writers. That has certainly given me validity even if I lacked confidence. I was a late bloomer. I was afraid partly because my parents had a hard time making a living at art and thus, I shied away from going into it with full passion.
I have also been influenced by the lovely natural environment of Austin with its parks and creeks and river, and the agricultural background of my grandparents, with the rougher yet spiritual space and openness of West Texas. Nature is an important part of my world.
My travels have influenced me –not that I traveled on many individual trips –but my moves to different places. The Washington, D.C. area, several areas in Texas, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and central England. These places, and the people I have met, have deeply influenced my worldview, my compassion, my word treasure chest by various languages, and made me an immigrant, which is a different place and time.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Laura: My novels are my most intricate work, and are set in different countries and cultures of Texas, Mexico, and Austria.
My poetry performance pieces can help people feel a connection to others and may inspire people to think in a new way.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Laura: When I was 17, I told my English professor I’d like to be a writer. He said I already sculpted language as my father sculpted clay. (I took what he said as permission but it was the feeling the act of writing gave me, that propelled me.)
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Laura: I love to take long walks, to ride bikes with family, to garden, to work in the woods cutting down nettles and brambles around young trees to give them light to grow.
I love to read books, to practice foreign languages I’ve learned in the various countries I have lived in. Lately, with my husband, I am reading aloud youth books in German to improve that language.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Laura: Here’s a YouTube link to my latest collaborative poetry video and others:
“Girl Walking Across Europe” by Poets For Refugees:
Abuela Solar (Solar Grandmother): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRZnXo238so&t=121s
The Wedding Dress:
Fevers of the Mind #Stopthehate poems: https://feversofthemind.com/2021/06/11/stopthehate-poems-by-laura-grevel-texas-freeze-over-people-are-looking/
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Wallace Stevens’ lines from the poem The Man With the Blue Guitar:
They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”
The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”
And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,
A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Laura: My husband Joachim is my biggest fan and listener through the years. My poet and writer friends in the East Midlands, UK, and at Open Mics and poetry groups have been helping me grow and grow. Thanks especially to Sue Allen and Alexandra Coates for their input and encouragement.