Marinated in Wisdom: an interview with poet Olga Murillo
Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing an amazing poet by the name of Olga Murillo. In that brief amount of time I spoke with Olga, I learned the importance of individualism, perseverance, and humbleness.
Olga Murillo is a poet that grew up in Compton, California and started writing when she was in the 3rd grade.
Olga started off with rhyming.
Growing up in Compton, she mentioned that when she was younger a lot of kids wanted to rap. She was led to poetry through books. She would go to Borders and other small bookstores and look for books that said poetry on them and start reading. She sought out books that were easy to read which in turn helped her grow and delight herself in other books. Poetry was an outlet for Olga that allowed her to express herself and be open. Her passion led her to receive a MFA from California State University, Long Beach.
Olga is also the former Fiction Editor of the Zharmae Publishing Press and Flash Fiction Editor for Issue 41 of the literary magazine RipRap. Olga has written a few articles that are online but is presently focusing on “bigtime projects” that she is trying to get published.
Olga mentioned, “The crazy thing about writing is that you write for yourself but then you share it with others.”
Allowing your work to be seen opens yourself up to be seen and allows people to see a glimpse of who you are.
Olga told me that she sees herself as being quiet and reserved; however, her work speaks volumes. A lot of her writing focuses on love and relationships, whether they be mother and daughter, two women, or friendships. She also writes about being misunderstood and togetherness. She writes for those that are overlooked, outcast, and downtrodden. Two of Olga’s favorite poets are Pablo Neruda and Maya Angelou. They inspire her and give her a deeper love for poetry. When you read one of Olga’s poems, you get the complete package because she allows herself to be vulnerable and lays everything out on the page. She doesn’t hold back and gives her full self in all that she does.
Olga’s advice for people is advice that she received from her professors at UC Irvine which was, “Let life marinate you.”
Some things are a journey and take time. When she was at UC Irvine studying and writing, she decided to get her MFA. She took time to let life marinate her and then went about applying to different schools. It wasn’t easy applying and not getting accepted, but she never gave up and she found her spot at Cal State Long Beach where she met a lot of amazing people that still encourage her to be a better writer. It just goes to show sometimes a door you think should be open is not the door you were meant to walk through. When you finally get to an open door, sometimes it may not be what you wanted at first but it’s exactly what you needed.
Olga desires to be a creative writing teacher and change the way in which things are presently done. She wants to allow students to be more creative and not think in a way that confines and limits them. She also wants to introduce them to poets that are not your typical Shakespeare types of poets. She wants to break down the walls and show more diversity when it comes to poetry.
Lastly, Olga encourages everyone to try reading poetry and read at least one poem a week. She commissions people to shop small and support local bookstores and businesses.
I learned a lot from speaking to Olga and I’ll always remember to, “Let life marinate you.”