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"Lydia...Lydia Flores came to the program fully formed as a poet but no one knew it at first, because she seemed so shy at first, and guarded as if she was testing all of us, and probably with good reason, but eventually as she grew more confident the intensity of her poetry swept over all of us hurricane style and she just got better, more confident and more trusting in herself as well. She's been one of the guardian spirits of the MFA program and has been an inspiration to all of us. Her thesis, a book of poems, is titled, The Shape of An Apology.."—Lewis Warsh
Program: Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing | School: Long Island University Brooklyn
1. What will you miss most about your MFA program?
I think I will miss the community the most. The program was small and close knit, everyone was understanding, there for one another and made whatever accommodations needed to make your time there work with your life outside of the program. My classmates and professors were silly, honest, encouraging and open. They definitely challenged me, guided and encouraged me whilst in new territory, and brought out the best in me, through my personhood and writing, so I definitely will miss them.
2. If it is possible, what is the most valuable piece of advice you receieved or the most important thing you've learned from being in the program?
I've learned so much in the program, I suppose for simplicity sake, I would say that the most important thing I've learned was to trust myself and my response to my own writing... so when l am looking at my work say, during revision, and I'm questioning wether to take a line out or if something makes sense, just trust that I am doing the right thing for the sake of the poem..to not second guess myself. One instance of this is, I use to feel a little insecure because I tend to write lengthy poems but I learned to trust the length of the poem as well as know when the length is working or not working, so now I don't feel insecure, now my friends and I make jokes about my long poems.
3. When you started your program, what did you envision happening afterward?
When I started at LIU, I didn't have a post grad vision for myself. I chose to get my MFA because I felt that it was what God was calling me to do in that season. All I cared about was enhancing my craft and becoming a better writer. Maybe I was too head over heels with writing that I couldn't see it in context with life itself, (the make money part of life because we all know society does't value poetry openly nor see its value through an economical lens) so I didn't have any specific plan or vision, I just focused on writing. Now that I have graduated, I am learning to trust God as he's leading to and through different ways of living life while being able to still write and use my writing to impact others. Even though I didn't prepare myself the way "normal people" do for life stuff outside of writing, I don't have any regrets, my vision now is being constructed by prayer, trusting in the unknown and taking chances.
4. Describe your thesis and its process. What was the hardest part of your thesis?
My thesis is titled, The Shape of An Apology; it is a collection of poems as a social and personal investigation of identity, femininity, and the black body. These poems question and explore race, gender, sexuality, grief, vulnerability, and healing. We are constantly having to apologize for our bodies, for our skin, for all we cannot change, and these poems are a testament to both the defeat and the triumph of self-love and the refusal to be sorry.
The process of my thesis was both challenging and fun. When I began I didn't feel like any of the poems that I wrote throughout my time in the program fit with what I wanted my thesis to be, but the more I looked back I was able to find many of them worked. I knew what I wanted my thesis to be, or least I thought I did, but as I continued to work on it, it ended up becoming a new shape and that was surprising and exciting. The hardest part of my thesis was coming up with the order of the poems and the title.
5. What are you doing now? Have you’ve been able to make time to privilege your writing?
Post MFA, my living situation has been difficult and so has the employment process but to say the least, I am trucking through life with poems on my back.
As for writing I am continuing to work on my thesis and getting myself a book out into the world. Needless to say, even though I am not writing every day I am still writing and engaging in the process. I feel that no matter how busy or chaotic my life may get I will still find time to write because passionate about it, so it's important to me and for me to write no matter what. It doesn't mean I will write full poems every day, but as long as I am writing I am okay; even if it's journaling or writing tweets and instagram captions.
A. Do you ever have any regrets about getting an MFA?
Not at all, I know that it was necessary, worth it and all according to God's plan for my life.
B. What was the first thing you wrote post MFA and what are you writing right now or have written recently?
The first thing I wrote post MFA was a cover letter for a potential job, but seriously as for poetry, the first poem I wrote post MFA was called "Love Isn't All I Need" and right now I am working on some poems but they don't have titles yet.