Anthology Interview: Hyla Maddalena
To celebrate the February 26th launch of our anthology, we're sharing interviews with a few featured artists. Below we interview Hyla Maddalena, a young writer and artist based in Vermont.
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GS&NS: Hi, Hyla! Please introduce yourself to GS&NS readers.
Hyla: I’m a fairly young writer and artist from Vermont. The daughter of writers, photographers, and farmers, I truly can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t write. I’m a huge fan of classic films, organized desks and notes, and enormous libraries. I love being in new places, but I’d often rather stay home and watch a movie with my parents, cats, dog, and partner. I write mostly about the people in my life--at the moment, actually, I’m slowly working on a book of poems about people I know and/or have inspired me!
GS&NS: Your essay, “Beautiful” is a tribute to friendship. Why was it an important topic for you to write about?
Hyla: The two friends I wrote about have both struggled a lot with self-image, and especially their worth and place in the world. They’re also both (in their own ways) fairly unfeminine women, and I wanted to highlight their non-traditional femininity by using the sometimes hyper-feminized concept of beauty. Essentially, I wrote it for these two women, R and L, in order to show them that at the very, very least, I saw them and loved them for their own attributes--which is an enormous part of friendship, as far as I can see.
GS&NS: What inspired you to write your poem, “Simple Anonymity”?
Hyla: I’m an only child who grew up in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve always had an extremely close relationship with my parents. I wanted to sit down and really think about how I see the two of them, and how I could compare and contrast them. I started to remember a story my mother had told me about spending an hour with someone she met on the trail while walking our dog--someone she didn’t know, someone she never saw again--and it made me think about the strange, ever-changing-and-passing relationship we have with our parents.
GS&NS: Talk about your writing process. Do you have a favorite place, favorite type of music, etc.?
Hyla: If I’m completely honest, I write best when I wake up in the middle of the night! I sit up in bed and charge through a page and a half in a desperate fervor. Despite that, when I intentionally settle down to write, I try to have a clean space for my journal or my laptop, without distractions. I either listen to instrumental music or YouTube Let’s Players--it’s like a podcast without any real discussion to distract me! Essentially, I like the white noise. Writing can be like sleeping, really; if I’m trying too hard to do it, it just won’t happen.
GS&NS: What advice would you give to emerging writers?
Hyla: Don’t force it! There are a lot of wonderful writers out there, and I know I feel pressure to have everything I write come out just as beautiful as some things I’ve read--things that have been written, rewritten, and edited many times! Take inspiration from people you enjoy reading, but don’t tell yourself that the only right way to write is in their style. Write what you want, how you want, and get comfortable with it!
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