Monday, November 16, 2020

TBR: Inherent by Lucía Orellana Damacela

TBR [to be read] is a semi-regular, invitation-only interview series with authors of newly released/forthcoming, interesting books who will tell us about their new work as well as offer tips on writing, stories about the publishing biz, and from time to time, a recipe!


We don’t expect an elevator pitch from a poet, but can you tell us about your work in 2-3 sentences?

 Inherent is a collection that reimagines life in coastal Ecuador in light of present time transitions and challenges. These evocations, made with fragments of phrases, images, smells, transform the memory landscape of the speaker and address belonging and identity as they are recreated far away from home.   


Which poem did you most enjoy writing? Why? And, which poem gave you the most trouble, and why?

The poem I enjoyed writing the most was “The Paramo Train.”  This poem is based on an actual trip I took with my father by train, going from Durán, a town near Guayaquil, to Quito. That was the first time I went through la Nariz del Diablo, a passage in the Andes with beautiful scenery but very steep and zigzaggy, in which the train has to go in reverse to change tracks. My father described it to me before we took the train and I was terrified but excited about it.

 The poem that gave me the most trouble was the last one, “Ink-Carved Rusty Path” which was originally an ekphrastic poem, inspired by a combination of photographs presented as a prompt for a contest in the web site of a literary magazine. The poem won the contest, but I had to rework it several times, for years, before I thought it was ready to stand on its own. 


Tell us a bit about the highs and lows of your book’s road to publication.

I wrote most of these poems between 2015 and 2017. That was a high. Started submitting the manuscript in 2018. There were a few lows and a few highs along the way. Earlier versions of Inherent made it to the upper rounds in the selection process of a few presses; they also received a fair amount of outright rejections. One version was a finalist in a literary contest. I knew that Inherent would eventually have its chance, so I continued reviewing and submitting it. Finally, in late 2019, it found a wonderful home in Fly on the Wall Press. That was a mighty high.


What’s your favorite piece of writing advice?

I don’t remember who said this, or where I read it, but I think it’s the most truthful thing about this endeavor: Just write. You can’t edit or improve a blank page.


My favorite writing advice is “write until something surprises you.” What surprised you in the writing of this book?

How these poems, which started as a series of very rough and unrelated notes, soon were speaking to each other and came together as a collection. 


How did you find the title of your book?

I don’t remember exactly how the title came to me; I think it just emerged organically from what the collection was about. I went back and forth between Inherent and Inheritant. At some point I decided that Inherent better accomplished what I was looking for:  a short title that captured the idea of both a symbolic and blood lineage among women.


Inquiring foodies and hungry book clubs want to know: Any food/s associated with your book? (Any recipes I might share?)

Foods and drinks are spread thorough the collection. Bread is made; sandwiches, crackers and chocolate are eaten. Cake is not (in real life, it is). Coffee and sun tea are served. Watermelons are sliced, mangoes are sucked, cherries are chocked on. I mention citric fruits –lemons, limes, oranges— a few times (hence the cover), and limoncello. Skewered meat, cheese.  Breast milk. Horchata, which my grandmother prepared often. She made the local version of horchata with rice, oatmeal, or barley. In her food blog in Spanish, my sister shares the recipe to make a popular oatmeal drink.








READ A POEM FROM THIS BOOK: [click on book cover and move through arrows]



DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.