Lucia Galloway on Poets Cafe
The following interview of Lucia Galloway by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission).
Lucia Galloway is a native Midwesterner transplanted to California, where she lives in Claremont and co-hosts (with Frances McConnel, Karen Greenbaum-Maya, and Genevieve Kaplan) the distinguished Fourth Sundays reading series. With graduate degrees from U.C. Berkeley and the Antioch, L.A. Creative Writing Program, she considers herself a bona-fide Californian, active in the greater L.A. poetry community.
A co-winner of the Quills Edge Press “On the Edge” Chapbook Competition for her book The Garlic Peelers (2015), Lucia has also authored Playing Outside (Finishing Line, 2005) and the full-length collection, Venus and Other Losses (Plain View, 2010). Her collection Some Words for Meanwhile is due from Future Cycle Press in 2019. Her poems appear widely in journals such as Comstock Review, Innisfree, The MacGuffin, Mid-American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Nimrod, Nourish, San Pedro River Review, The Sow’s Ear, Spillway, Tar River, and many others. Anthology publications include Thirty Days (Tupelo), Element(ary) My Dear (Kind of a Hurricane Press), and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series: Beyond Baroque).
Awards and distinctions include the Robert Haiduke Prize from the Bread Load School of English; awards from Artists Embassy International; Rhyme Zone’s “Top-Ten” award in their 2014-35 Poetry Contest; and Honorable Mention in the MacGuffin National Poet Hunt. In the Able Muse Book Award competition her manuscripts twice received Honorable Mention (2013 and 2017). Her work has been a finalist in several other contests, Tupelo’s Snowbound Chapbook Competition, and most recently in Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition, for her suite of prose poems, “Earth Beneath the Snow.”
Lucia hopes to delve further into writing poems about music and also texts or libretti suitable for musical scores. She also hopes to bake more pies during the coming year, but probably not write poems about them.
This delicacy of weddings, Quinceañeras:
I’ve made almond cake for the homeless
who gather with us to dine on real, not
paper plates, with stainless-steel forks
and knives, places set out on tablecloths
accessorized with folded napkins,
bite-size chocolate kisses. This week
kernels of candy corn and grinning
pumpkin faces charm off autumn’s chill.
Extravagant! I dread the verdict, muttered
or suppressed. Almonds. Even a man
without a home knows of the thirsty
almond trees, notorious in this time
of drought. Even he has read of growers
who pour a gallon of water into every nut.
I spent hours on the cake, soaking a pound
of almonds in more water overnight. And
these men on shelter cots shaking off
morning sleep while I am slipping each
kernel of its skin, tossing it on the pile
of nutmeats naked, ready to be ground
to meal. I’d walked the orchard aisles once,
watching automated arms clamp vice-like
fists around each tree trunk, shake until its
branches dropped full hulls along the rows,
where, forked up, they were whisked away
to quaking tanks, spewed through chutes
in the progressive nakedness of harvest.
Released, the inmost lode.
Released, the shell.
Released, the hull around the shell,
released and filtered out, the rocks and twigs.
I place a coffee urn next to the cake, elegant
as an ice rink in its disarming sheen.
It’s after that I overhear him—one of our
guests returning to the table with cake
and coffee. Elegant, he’s saying. And then,
our supper talk, the give and take of it:
community we miss, he says. How long since
we could afford the elegance of conversation?
This unexpected hallowing. I’m shaken.
–Published in Askew 79 (Fall-Winter, 2016)