Katie Clark interviews Melissa Lozada-Oliva

So you have two chapbooks, rude girl is lonely girl! and Plastic Pajaros (both through pizza pi press) and I hear you have another one forthcoming with Button. What calls to you about chapbooks? And of course I have to ask: can you talk a little about the new collection?

I like how small and concentrated chapbooks get to be. Themes are so much fun. In another life, I would concentrate my love for themes on party planning. Anyway, chapbooks don’t have to be this way, but all of mine are centered around a specific theme or idea. For Plastic Pajaros it’s language. For Rude Girl, it’s Jessica Jones. My upcoming chapbook with button poetry is all about hair removal. Basically I just try to fit my slimy bloody feelings into elegantly labeled little jars & I give them to people with love.


That’s a great point, and I’m sure you would plan an excellent party. And I can’t wait to read the next one it sounds incredible. So as a writer with obvious talent both on page/stage, what, for you, is the relationship between read and performed poetry?

They are sisters & everyone is like “omg you guys don’t even look related except for maybe your hair and maybe your skin!” but really they are totally related and get tattoos together. Sometimes I feel like i have to distance myself from performing because i get caught up in being accessible and the slam idea of “winning” and that keeps me from writing things that i need to. however, whenever i’m really stuck on a poem i read it out loud and i know exactly what’s missing. i also sometimes feel caught between the quiet of world of written poetry and the loud world of performance poetry. it’s like the introvert/extrovert binary that i can’t stand. i gain energy from people but i also need to recharge. i’m a pretty outgoing person who loves to overshare but i’m also moody and need entire afternoons to myself to reflect. what i mean to say is, i need both worlds. or rather, i can live in both worlds, i can be my own sister. i hope that makes sense.

Hahaha wow, I love that. You mentioned getting caught up in Slam. I think people have a lot of different ways and reasons that they are proud of their art. So I’m curious, what makes you feel satisfied with something you’ve written?

I guess not when I’m happy with it, but when it makes me feel full. When I think I’ve said something in the truest way I can. But also, I’m constantly seeking the approval of others and sometimes I only feel satisfied when I have sufficient feedback. I send my work to my friends all the time with subject lines that are like, “lmao is this weird i’m gonna go into a hole now bye” or “i am so extra and my heart hurts ha can u tell me wat u think??”

That definitely makes sense! I mean, writing does (typically) call for someone other than the writer to experience it. Also, I’m glad you said that!! I know I send a lot of those subject lines and I’ve received a good few as well. We all could probably talk a bit more about insecurity and art, but I guess that’s why we have Twitter.

Is there anything you tell yourself on a “lmao is this weird i’m gonna go into a hole now bye” day? Or any advice you have for someone who is just starting or feeling insecure in their craft?

Omg yes twitter is a wonderful trampoline to bounce on with your funny insecure friends!  i think my best advice would be to not be afraid to be messy. make a mess.  don’t write thinking about how you’re going to edit it. don’t write thinking about that one thing your friend said to you one time about cliches. if you feel stuck on something, read something true or listen to something beautiful.

And finally, what is making you feel passionate right now?

A list of things that make me passionate right now:

  1. Talking to my friends about their love life.
  2. Femme friendships in general.
  3. Days to myself.
  4. Lovesickness in relation to identity & immigrant experience. That sense of longing, of needing to belong to a Someone or a Somewhere.
  5. The film Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016) it’s fucking so good.
  6. Every moment I’ve been told that I’m exaggerating, imaging things, or being too sensitive.
  7. Two days ago when I came back to my apartment & my sister/roommate said, “here bitch” & handed me a chocolate chip cookie.
  8. The David Longstreth and Amber Coffman breakup I honestly just love the drama omg.
  9. The lady on the Cholula bottle. Who drew her, who put her there, & is that what she wants?
  10. Short stories & short songs about lonely women.
  11. Saying “no.”


Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a spoken word poet living in Boston. For booking information contact mason@strengthofdoves.com IG/Twitter: ellomelissa

Vagabond City Literary Journal

Founded in 2013, we are a literary journal dedicated to publishing outsider literature. We publish art, prose, reviews, and interviews from marginalized creators.