Shelby Dale DeWeese
Oyster River Pages: What’s the most recent work that surprised you?
Shelby Dale DeWeese: Electric Arches by Eve Ewing.
ORP: What does becoming a “better” writer or artist look like to you? How do you define success?
SDD: I think becoming a "better" writer is very closely aligned with growing your affinity and confidence in writing. It's falling deeper in love with the act of writing, and it's feeling more okay with breaking the rules in a way that makes sense to you.
ORP: What are you doing to shape and inspire the next generation of artists?
SDD: One of the most important things for me is sharing my love for stories with others. I work at a nonprofit, 826 Valencia, which offers free writing programs to under-resourced students in San Francisco. I spend most of my mornings supporting 2nd-5th grade classes in collaborative story writing projects that culminate in published books.
ORP: Does having a work published alter the way you think about it? Does it alter the way you think about yourself?
SDD: Having my work published definitely offers a sense of validation and completion that I'm really never able to achieve on my own. Just the idea that at least one other person in at least one other moment has connected to the work and found value in it.
ORP: What advice would you give someone who has never been published?
SDD: Don't be down on yourself - it's largely subjective (read: random). Keep sending out the work you're proudest of at great volume - to any and every publication that you think might be a fit. You never know when/how/who will get back to you (probably months later) and say, "Hey, I really love what you're doing!"
Shelby Dale DeWeese grew up on a farm in Kentucky, but currently lives and writes in California. She earned her MFA at the University of San Francisco, and her poems have appeared in such publications as Jet Fuel Review, Rust + Moth, and Rag Queen Periodical. When she's not writing, she and a former pirate captain encourage elementary school students to write original stories at 826 Valencia. Find her online at shelbydaledeweese.com. Read her poetry here.