Colby Mims-LaFoy Interview
Poet Colby Mims-LaFoy is interviewed by Zurisadai Avila about their poem "Make Me Your Villian" published in The Bayou Review Fall 2022 Edition.
How do you approach writing poetry?
Poetry has never been a form that comes easily to me. However, it is uniquely and inherently an intimate art that feels akin to sharing a close secret with a new acquaintance. A poem normally begins that way for me: an idea or concept or thought I am desperate to nervously share with anyone that will listen. That motivation to explore a topic is what drives me to write the piece itself while that desire to connect to others through what I need to explore gets the product shared, (sneakily) read, and (even more sneakily) edited.
How do you connect this poem to our theme of Blooming, Blossoming, Branching out?
At first glance, the piece is somewhat of a mismatch to the theme as it feels somewhat cold and distant. However, at its core, this specific piece is about a narrator exploring their origin story and, within that process, there is a sort of rebirth—redefinition—of oneself that is explored. I don’t believe the poem fits neatly into the box of “blooming,” “blossoming,” nor “branching out,” but instead, is a combination of the theme in the sense that it questions what those concepts truly mean to the reader themselves.
What inspired you to write "Make Me Your Villain?”
The inspiration for “Make Me Your Villain” came from a conversation regarding characterization within a creative writing class. We were discussing “good” characters and “bad” characters and how they can be determined by readers. Deep into debate, a fellow student posed the question, “But how are the villains created?” and my fingers simply itched to explore the idea.
Can you tell us more about the following line in the poem: “but craft me no title lesser than”?
The previous line of the poem was written to describe the narrator’s acceptance of the perception that has been placed on them. However, this line alludes to the inability to completely lose control of one’s own narrative. Although the narrator can concede that not everyone will view them in the same light, they will not allow the narrative to portray them as anything but great—be that a great villain or a great hero. While others may perceive us, there will always be a part of us that we hold on to as essential to our understanding of ourselves.
What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
Do not be overwhelmed by the start, and do not be underwhelmed by what your work may look like while you process. Save everything you write. Yes, even the stuff you think is bad, even the scraps. You never know when something you have written in the past will bring you new inspiration or suddenly take the form of something new and exciting.
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