Interview with Writer/Poet: Georgia Lee Rose

Shortly after Halloween, years ago, a friend of mine came over with two homegrown bottles of red wine – we’d had such a wonderful evening that I wanted to chronicle the event with a hand made art piece.  I relished the forest green smooth sheen on the glass of the bottle, I stared at it for a while when an idea popped in my head.  I’m always obsessed with marking time in found objects – I thought of this beautiful hourglass that I had seen on a short stop over to Bolzano Italy, which was decades ago – if I am to be honest.  And, quietly thought if I put them together the opening and used some hot glue that it would remain secure – what did I stuff it with you ask?  Leftover Halloween candy corn.  

The reason that I am sharing this story with you is because Georgia Lee Rose gets very creative with found items – more specifically compostable coffee cups.  Writing poetry on items other than paper is very new to me – and, I have to admit poetry on a paper cup looks pretty damn cool. There’s also a fun little origin story Georgia shares… For more information on Georgia follow her Instagram page: @bygeorgialeerose .

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked, if yes how did you overcome it?

GLR: I am ALWAYS creatively blocked, and don’t trust people who say they haven’t been. I write for a living, so have had to train myself to keep going even when I don’t want to. The true issue with being blocked is that you don’t believe in what you’re writing, nothing feels good enough, and you don’t feel like you’re on the right path. Write anyway. You can do so much more with 500 words of garbage than you can with a blank page.

RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?

GLR: I point an imaginary gun to my head and keep writing. Your inner critic is there to make you better. If you ignore it, you’ll never grow. So, listen.

RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?

GLR: No. When I was younger, I fully gave into the (toxic) suffering artist narrative. I thought I always had to be in pain, smoking a cigarette, drinking whisky, to produce some shred of creative brilliance. That’s bullshit. Let’s kill this concept, please!
What I do before writing now is the same as what I do before anything - I brush my teeth, moisturize my face, make a coffee, pop a probiotic, and begin.

RMMW: How many blank coffee cups do you have at home?

GLR: Only one. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been drifting away from writing on coffee cups.
Though I wholeheartedly believe in compostable packaging, I care too much about the planet, and am trying to cut down on my own personal waste. Until there’s a time where compost bins are as second nature as our rubbish bins, I don’t feel as comfortable as I used to promoting the “coffee cup poet” lifestyle.

I’ve seen people emulate what I do - but in countries and cities where compostable packaging isn’t as readily available as it is where I am. How can I feel comfortable with that? I used to go to cafe’s purely to get a coffee cup, write a poem, and post on social media. If you’re big on coffee, get a reusable cup. And if you’re a good writer, you don’t need to hide behind a gimmick.

RMMW: What do you enjoy most about writing on coffee cups?

GLR: Freedom and limitations. On coffee cups, I can’t edit myself or sensor my thoughts as readily as I can on paper or device. 

RMMW: I know, many writers can't live without their coffee, what about you?

GLR: I can live without coffee, I just choose not to. Like any drug, if I were to go a week weening myself off it, I’m sure I’d be able to focus and function significantly better. But what’s the fun in life without a vice?

RMMW: What is the origin story of Coffee Cup Poetry?

GLR: During my BA, I worked in this beautiful little shop called Fairytales, that wasn’t busy all that often. I’ve always been one keen for romantic distraction, and became infatuated with this motorbike riding, tattooed barista* at the cafe along the corner. I think I used to pop in three or four times a day - under the guise of getting coffee - just to flirt with him. When I’d get back to my shop, I’d finish my coffee, and then write about our interactions on the cup (which were always AllPress). Not long after, I started posting pictures of the poems to Tumblr.
* In case you were wondering, the barista turned out to be a REAL dick. Twice.

RMMW: What do you enjoy most about poetry?

GLR: Connection. Poetry allows me to process my emotions in a safe, creative, and fun way.  But it also allows me to connect with people who feel the same as me. Few things in life bring me more joy than when people tell me they’ve resonated with something I’ve written.

RMMW: What do you relish doing in the time you do not spend writing?

GLR: Being still. Daydreaming. Walking. Ingesting media of all kinds - film, literature, television, video games. I used to draw a lot of maps and cities and am recently getting back into that.

RMMW: At what age did you start writing?

GLR: Quite young. My mum taught my brother and I how to read and write well before we started kindergarten. We had these neat tapes we’d listen to and books to fill out, kind of like homework. I began writing stories and didn’t truly discover poetry until I was 15.

RMMW: Who are your favourite poets?

GLR: I have plenty. Rudy Fransisco, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Reyna Biddy, nayyirah waheed. There are so many powerful voices out there, waiting to be heard.

RMMW: What's you favourite type of coffee cup to write on?

GLR: Plain. Stamped logo. Compostable.

RMMW: If you had a super power what would it be?

GLR: Writing things down and having them come true.

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