We had the good fortune of connecting with Melissa Studdard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melissa, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
Once, when I was in an unhealthy partnership and trying to stick it out just for the sake of perseverance, a very wise friend told me, “Quitting this toxic mess is not failing. Allowing it to linger on is the failure.” And she was right. I found myself in a much healthier and happier relationship after that one ended. People like to talk about how Thomas Edison tried thousands of times to invent the light bulb before he succeeded, and how that means we should never give up. But he also tried inventions that never came to fruition or that he wisely passed along to others to follow through with. It’s true that giving up on the light bulb would have prevented him from inventing it, but it’s also true that obsessing over less viable inventions would have prevented it too. I think how we phrase and conceptualize our questions in a decision-making process is important. If the question isn’t, “should I give up or not?’ but instead, “where do I want to put my energy?” things look different. It’s suddenly a lot clearer whether what you’re engaged with is giving something (to you, someone you want to help, or the common good) or draining your energy for no reason. I think this applies to both personal and professional facets of our lives. We can ask ourselves along the way, “If I stop this, is it fear, or is it a healthy redirection of energy?” If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll know.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Thank you. For me, poetry is largely about sharing this extraordinary life. If we paused at almost any moment in the narrative of being, we’d find both the mystical and the mundane, connection and solitude, complexity and simplicity. As a poet, I want to take the reader by the hand and say, “Come on, I’ve got you. I know this life is beautiful and terrifying and almost too brilliant to look directly into, but I’ll spin you some metaphors and lyrics to make it easier. I’ll build some bridges and drop rose petals beneath your feet. We’ll go together. We’ll celebrate and cry and explore, together.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take anyone who came to LA to the Rapp Salon reading series at the Santa Monica Hostel. Elena Secota, who runs it, is a goddess. She creates the sort of warm, joyous, supportive, open environment that allows the best talent (including her own!) to shine. Every time I’ve been, it has been a celebration of art, life, love, and talent. I would go every night if I could, but, alas, it’s only once a month, on the first Friday.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to Lois P. Jones, who writes gorgeous poems and selflessly supports and encourages other artists of all genres.
Facebook: Melissa Studdard
1) Alexis Rhone Fancher 3) Kelli Russell Agodon 4) Elena Secota