Tiny Talks with Melissa Eleftherion Carr

Tiny Talks is an interview series with Tiny Spoon’s talented contributors. This week we spoke with Melissa Eleftherion Carr from Issue 3, Consumption! Read her piece “Patriarchy Tonic” in our third issue!

Tiny Spoon: What kindles your creativity?

Melissa: Books. Art. Languages. Traveling. Hiking with my family. Reading about mycelia or birds or bacteria or the tarot. Extreme sadness or immense joy. I’m one of these relentlessly curious people who can’t stop studying things that strike me.  

Tiny Spoon: Are there any artists/ heroines/ idols/ friends that you look up to? 

Melissa: Yes, so many but I’ll just list a few. Lorine Niedecker. Octavia Butler. Remedios Vario. Diane Arbus. Nan Goldin. Anne Carson. Audre Lorde. Diane di Prima. Claudia Rankine. Leonora Carrington. A.S. King. Robin Wall Kimmerer. My Mendo friends: Margo, Joann & Leslie.

Tiny Spoon: Are there any natural entities that move your work?

Melissa: Since moving to California from Brooklyn 19 years ago, I’ve tried to learn the names of various native plants and birds & bugs to catch up a bit since that was a big learning gap for me. Now I read field guides for fun which is probably weird but definitely exciting to me personally. For example, I read a lot about insects & arthropods, bacteria, mushrooms, and trees. One element of the natural world that has transformed & reshaped how I want to show up & what I write about is how forests cooperate & thrive as one massive organism by communicating through mycelia.    

Tiny Spoon: We love insight into the creative process. Could you share what it is like for you, either with your work that appears in Tiny Spoon or in general?

Melissa: My process varies from project to project. Some projects are fragmented, and are puzzled together through stray lines and bits that I jotted down while going about my day. For example, I keep a document titled FRAGS where I transcribe these lines & bits from my journal, and later on some of them accrete and form poems, some don’t. 

Often, I find myself writing poems in response to texts I’m reading as a means of working out & integrating the concepts. I have ADD so this is also a means of focusing my attention in an attempt to commit what I have learned to memory.

When I schedule time to write, I usually have strict windows of time where I won’t be interrupted so I find it helps to jolt my imagination by using another text as a prompt (field guides & encyclopedias are favorites). Occasionally, I will get an idea while I’m running out the door to work & will write a whole poem in one swoop, but that has become a rare occurrence. 

Tiny Spoon: Do you have any current or future projects that you are working on that you would like to share?

Melissa: In Dec. 2020, I started a drop-in writing group on Zoom where I draw a card from the tarot as a prompt. We discuss images, ideas, and themes of the card, and then go off and write about it or something related. Each poem in my current manuscript, Witch Biota, is based on a different tarot card, and pairs the themes from that card with various ecological systems, branches of science, and/or life experiences. Working with the tarot has been generative & has also led to some personal discoveries.

Tiny Spoon: What book, artwork, music, etc., would you recommend to others?

Melissa: Two great books I have read recently are My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Mending of our Bodies and Hearts by Resmaa Menakem & The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture by Emanuele Coccia.

Find Melissa online www.apoetlibrarian.wordpress.com 

On Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/melissa.eleftherion/ 

On Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/libpoe/ 

On Twitter: @libpoe