The MFA in Creative Writing Program at Manhattanville College

May 23rd, 2014

Spotlight: Manhattanville Writing Alumni Contest Winner

 

The Pull

Pot holes swallow
the left tire
of my new car. I grip
the wheel
to fight the natural
pull of the city—
This place, always tries
To take people
where they don’t
want to go.
 

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Editors
What are the three things you couldn’t live without?
 
Erika
Chapstick, water, love
 
Editors
What is the first thing you’d do if you won the lottery?
 
Erika
Say, “Is this legit???”
 
Editors
If you had to read one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
 
Erika
The Bible
 
Editors
What’s your favorite word?
 
Erika
Jesus
 
Editors
Sky or deep water diving?
 
Erika
Deep water diving!
 
Editors
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
 
Erika
Any english speaking island, in a beautiful beach house facing the ocean.
 
Editors
What was your process behind writing this piece?
 
Erika
I remember driving through Bridgeport in my new car. I felt frustration as I gripped my wheel down one of Bridgeport’s busiest roads. As I sat down, weeks later, to write this poem I started with what was actually happening in that moment, as I remembered it. Then, I asked myself a simple question: what does this have to do with Bridgeport? The rest of the poem is a response to that question.
 
Editors
Your submission to the contest was entitled “For the People to Drink.” Is this the title of a longer collection of poems? Can you tell us more about it?
 
Erika
Yes, For the People To Drink is a title of a longer collection. A year ago I strung a collection of poems and personal photographs about Bridgeport, CT, my home town, together into a thesis/manuscript. This collection is placed within the context of city life, and observes what is lost in cities and what I lost in the city I love so much. The photographs help create a visual context for people who are not from Bridgeport and the poems, I hope, speak to all of us who have lost something in a place we never thought we would: home.
 
Editors
What’s the strangest thing you’ve gotten inspiration from?
 
Erika
A coffee cake 🙂
 
Editors
What motivates you to create?
 
Erika
I’m motivated to create by God. The first book of the Bible is Genesis and Genesis 1:1 says, “In the Beginning God created…” and there’s something in that simple sentence that has always motivated me, even as as a child. Creation is important to God and it is a function of His existence. Being made in His likeness means I have also been given the ability to create. This ability feels like a duty, an obligation, and an itch placed inside of me by God. I’m also motivated by empty spaces, broken things, cities, family and love relationships. I use stories or poems to fill empty and broken spaces that beg to answer the questions, “What used to be here?” or “Where is this person going?”
 
 

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ErikaErika K. Stanley is a graduate of the Manhattanville College’s MFA program where she served as the former Poetry Editor of INKWELL and the former Editor of the Manhattanville Review. She is published with Cyclamens and Swords Publishing. Erika works as an education advocate hoping to become one of many who close the achievement gap in Bridgeport.

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