We were able to get an interview with Marisa Silva on her piece “If we were gods” in Issue Seven!
Aphrodite and Persephone are both good examples of how Greek mythology handles love stories, though there are other goddesses who experienced pretty bad love from shitty gods. What drew you to these two?
I picked Persephone and Aphrodite because they both have lovers who are hated and dismissed by the other gods. I really wanted to explore how these goddesses don’t wither when others judge them for being with these difficult gods. (I do prefer retellings/interpretations of the Persephone myth where she has more agency.) I think there is a strength to both Aphrodite and Persephone that the myths don’t really flesh out, and it’s their vulnerability (which is usually seen as female and weak) that allows them to be strong.
Do you identify with either of these goddesses?
To an extent yes. I think specifically in this poem both have taken on the healer role and are doing a lot of emotional labor for the men in their lives. I tend to favor Persephone, because I think she has some tricks up her sleeves that the other gods aren’t aware of. At the end of the day though, their men don’t underestimate them.
What do you find influences your poetry the most?
I am very much influenced by people and events in my life. Sometimes I’m trying to capture these little details of a person, or a moment that was significant to me. Other times it’s a conversation I’m having with myself, or people I’m not able to express myself too. Occasionally, I create a piece out of a “what if” or I’ll add a “what if aspect” to a poems so that it’s not completely confessional.
How does poetry make you feel? To read and write and share it?
I love finding a poem I connect with, or a piece I wish I had written. I’ve recently been rereading, Sandra Cisneros’s poem “You Bring Out the Mexican in Me,” and there were lines I’ve loved before, but I’m finding new parts to appreciate. Writing poetry is a release. I think I’m fairly expressive outside of writing, but I don’t always get to express what I want, the way I want to. Poetry allows me the freedom to do that. It creates a safe space for me to share things that I don’t necessarily want to discuss one on one with someone. Sharing poetry is a bit tricky. I feel like it’s important to get my work out there because there might be someone who could connect with it and feel less alone. I’m apprehensive when I’ve written a poem (or poems) about someone and there’s a chance they’ll read it.
Do you have any previously published pieces you’re particularly proud of?
I am really proud of a recent piece published in Mojave He[art] Review called Touch Starved. I wrote it after “If we were gods,” but I feel like it has the elements of mythology at play, more of a personal mythology though. https://mojaveheart.com/touch-starved/
I’m also proud of the pieces I’ve had published from a true crime chapbook I’ve been working on about the actress Allison Mack. My pieces have been featured in Anti-Heroin Chic http://heroinchic.weebly.com/blog/poetry-by-marisa-silva-dunbar, Mojave He[art] Review https://mojaveheart.com/november-5th-2014-you-know-those-days/, and Poetry WTF?! http://poetrywtf.org/expecting-adoration/.
I have three more forthcoming in Midnight Lane-Boutique, and one in Manzano Mountain Review.