Oyster River Pages: How has your writing or art changed over time?
Leah Mueller: My early poems were quite prose-like, with long, snaking lines and a conversational style. Most of them seem too wordy now. I had a repressed desire to write actual prose. Once I began doing so, the lines in my poems shortened, as if by magic. My poetic style is still casual, but the lines are shorter and more concise. I think this comes with practice. I'm still working on the whole "show, not tell" thing, however.
ORP: How does writing or making art change you?
LM: Writing is like orgasm--lots of effort to get there, but the payoff is amazing! Seriously, introspection is difficult all by itself, and the act of translating the gibberish in my head to a screen is even harder. A sort of tension builds up inside of me which is released when I finally finish a poem or story. "Cathartic" doesn't even begin to describe it.
ORP: Who do you hope reads your work and why?
LM: I'm not picky. Anyone can read this stuff. If my work connects with someone who has had a similar experience or emotion, it's all good.
ORP: Do you consider your writing/artistic time to be work or play?
LM: Oh, it's hard work. Not like shoveling coal or working at 7-11 or that sort of thing, but work nevertheless. I love it, and wouldn't be who I am without it, but the process isn't easy. A lot of people have it harder, though, so I won't complain.
ORP: What’s next for you artistically?
LM: I have two (!) books coming out this fall: "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" (Czykmate Press) and "Death and Heartbreak" (Weasel Press). The first title is a long-ish compilation of my short stories, written between 2011-2018, and the second is a collection of poetry, mostly from 2018. Lot of death and heartbreak last year, which sucked but was a boon for my writing. Both titles will be available on Amazon and all the usual outlets. Or folks can contact me for a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm usually broke, and could use the money.
ORP: How does this work connect to your personal experiences/identity?
LM: The majority of of my work is autobiographical, whether it's poetry or prose. I grew up thinking writers should be mysterious about their output and say things like, "Well, some of this is real, and some is made up, and some of it happened to people I know...", so I tried that for a while. Finally, I gave up and started submitting my prose work as memoir. My poetic style has always been confessional (a word that gives me pause, since it reminds me of Harlequin romances). Most of what I write is true. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.
Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks and four books. Her next two books, "Death and Heartbreak" and "Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices" will be published in Autumn, 2019 by Weasel Press and Czykmate Press. Leah’s work appears in Blunderbuss, The Spectacle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, Mockingheart Review, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest. She can be found at www.facebook.com/leahmuellerwriter and www.twitter.com/leahsnapdragon. Hear Leah read her poetry here.