Below is a Q&A with Melodie Bolt, followed by a brief bio.
Where are you from?
Tough question. I ask people to give me an age, and then I’ll tell them where I was living at that time. Instead of a rattling off a list though, let me propose Jersey. I was born there.
Where did you study?
I studied Russian in Baltimore. English in Flint. Poetry in Portland.
How did you get your start as a writer?
For me, writing starts with reading. When I was little, my mother took classes at Rutgers. She eventually earned her B.A. in English when I was in high school and her Master’s before I graduated college. Literature is really important to her, and her influence allowed me to read Bronte, Poe, Homer, and many others as a child.
My father influenced me as well. Until I was in first grade, he worked for Macmillan Publishing. Our house brimmed with books. My mother and sister, Bonnie, read avidly; I followed suit. And every move we made, the books went with us. Some of the books I have today are a 1963 copy of Beauty and the Beast gorgeously illustrated by Hilary Knight and with an afterward by Jean Cocteau. Also, there’s a signed copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
As for my writing, I started writing creatively outside of school as a child. Short stories were in third grade and poetry in fifth. I remember that because one writing assignment required using a magazine picture as a prompt. I liked the exercise so much I cut apart my mother’s J.C. Penney’s catalog.
Things turned serious for me in college when I worked with poet Elizabeth Spires and, briefly, with Madison Smartt Bell. Spires encouraged me to consider grad school, but I didn’t go until recently. I finished my M.F.A. from Pacific University where I worked with Marvin Bell, Peter Sears, Ellen Bass, Sandra Alcosser, Kwame Dawes, Leslie Adrienne Miller, Dorianne Laux and Joe Millar.
Who are some of your influences?
The poetry of Lynda Hull and Tomas Transtromer. John Steinbeck. Frank Herbert and Joan Vinge. Charlotte Bronte and the fairy tales of Grimm and Anderson. I’ve always liked “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Ugly Duckling.” Finding beauty in ugliness and in the ordinary is what poets do.
What is your favorite thing about educating writers at WBN?
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The wait between draft and revision.
What is your favorite word and why?
Only one? I like these based on syllables and sounds.
Oberon. Egyptian. Revolving. Infinity.
Silver. Carcass. Cobalt. Angel.
Rill. Heart. Plush. Shark.
And I really like the silent k in knife.
Word association: Literature.
What’s the last book you read and what did you think of it?
Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Keep reading. Keep writing.
Bio: Melodie Bolt earned an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Portland, Oregon and an MA in English Composition and Rhetoric from University of Michigan-Flint. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in magazines like Aperçus Quarterly, Verse Wisconsin, Yellow Medicine Review, Deakin University’s Windmills and Gutter Eloquence. She taught Developmental Education Writing at Baker College in Flint, Michigan before moving to Austin and, no, she doesn’t miss the snow.