An interview with Marcela Griffin, author of a collection of poems
and photographs titled, Reflections by the Shore
Born and raised in Lima, Peru, Marcela Griffin has made California her second home for over forty-seven years. A retired teacher, she focuses her art on the personal interaction between her spirit and the landscape. In nature, she finds the strength to cope with the loss of her only child. The poems and photographs in this book reflect her time of solace along the California coast.
Reflections by the Shore: Poems and Photographs
Paperback – April 7 2015
In this interview with Susan Bono of the Noyo River Review, author Marcela Griffin touches on some of the ways the MCWC community has supported and shaped her writing.
What brought you to MCWC and when?
The first time I attended the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference was in 2009. I wanted to learn about the best way to write a memoir about my experience with grief, hoping to help others who are going through the pain of the loss of a child.
Who was your workshop instructor?
My first instructor was Sharman Russell, who opened my eyes to the task at hand with the encouragement I needed. I went back again in 2010, and again experienced kindness and hope from Kat Meads.
What kind of project were you working on?
A memoir, which is now shelved for future work.
How did your relationship to your work shift as a result of attending MWC? Mention any other factors that played an important role in your evolution.
I believe it was in 2010 that I attended an afternoon talk by Ellen Bass. She gave us a prompt that changed my projects for ever. Since then, I have been focused on Poetry: writing it, feeling it, being surprised by it. From 2012 through 2014, I attended the Poetry sections at the Mendocino Conference, with instructors like Kim Addonizio, Joshua McKinney, and Sharon Doubiago. All of whom planted seeds of craft and creativity in my work. My memoir is now in the back burner, but I do plan to go back to it.
What helped you decide to publish a book of your own poems and photography?
I have been a photographer since the early ‘90s, but in the last four years, I decided to mix photography with poetry. The result is the publication of my first book, Reflections by the Shore. It was time to expose my work and learn even more from the feedback.
What were some of the highs and/or lows along the path to publication?
Once I decided to publish my book, the realization of my lack of knowledge in the field of publication forced me to look for other options. After much thought, I decided to use CreateSpace and self-publish my book. It has been a long and difficult journey learning every step I had to take, but it has been worth it. Classmates from the Mendocino Conferences I attended were always an inspiration to keep going and not feel insecure about my work. They are my thoughts and reflections and they gave me the strength to cope with the loss of my only child, so I hope the book might offer help to others who deal with grief each day of their lives.
How does it feel to have a book in the world?
Having published has given me a sense of accomplishment and a desire to keep going and publish more of my work.
What advice would you give to other writers to help them on their way?
The advice I go back to again and again is to trust yourself and do not let the judge that sits on your shoulder stop you from expressing yourself. Just write, even if you end up throwing some work away.
Attending the Mendocino Coast Writers Conferences gave me the tools I needed to let my imagination soar. All the staff has always created a sense of safety and a sense of home, where I was encouraged to move forward.
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