What is the name of the piece that you have in Grabbed?
“Found: Chorus to a Girl”
What was the inspiration for your piece? What compelled you to write it?
I’d watched videos responding to street harassment that turned the focus back to the bodies of the harassers. I didn’t want to do that in writing and tried to find another way to record my own experience of harassment (in many spaces). The words themselves were ugly, so I wrote down what had been said to me and worked from there.
Why did you choose this particular form or genre for this piece?
The prose poem feels less vulnerable to me than a poem with line breaks. It throws everything together. I think it shows how harassment accumulates in one person, erasing the individual and creating a spectre.
Can you speak to the evolution of writing your piece? How long did it take you to write this piece, including revision?
I wrote the first draft in 2014! I messed with the form, title, and transitions off and on over the years, but I didn’t add or take away much.
As a writer, do you feel obliged to share difficult experiences? Why?
I try not to feel obliged. But I do tend to write about what I’m thinking, and difficult experiences aren’t easy to stop thinking about.
What would you say to another writer who has been uncomfortable or silent about their experience? How can they begin to share their experiences?
All poems are just for yourself until you share them. Write notes. Write crappy drafts. Remember that writing doesn’t have to be confessional if that’s weighing you down. Read The Descent of Alette and come back.
Holly Mitchell is a queer poet from Kentucky, now living in New York. A winner of an Amy Award from Poets & Writers and a Gertrude Claytor Prize from the Academy of American Poets, Holly received an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University and has poems in Baltimore Review, Juked, and Narrative, among other journals.