GIRLFIRE : Erin Slaughter


Erin Slaughter is a native Texan currently pursuing an MFA at Western Kentucky University, where she teaches undergraduate writing classes. In 2016, she co-edited an anthology, Lavender Bluegrass: LGBT Writers on the South, won the Heartland Review’s Flash Fiction contest, and was a finalist for Rabbit Catastrophe Press’ REAL GOOD POEM Prize. You can find her work in Indianola Review, River Teeth, Boxcar Poetry Review, Off the Coast, Harpoon Review, and elsewhere. She lives in downtown Bowling Green with a cat named Amelia.

Who is your favorite female writer and why?
I would say that my favorite writers change pretty often, as I read and discover new things and as the direction of my writing evolves. Right now, I really admire Zadie Smith. The scope of her work is so varied in theme, genre, stylistic choices, etc. but everything she writes retains something that’s distinctly her. As a writer who works in multiple genres, that’s been a useful lesson for me.


What literary work by a female writer had the most effect on you as a writer and/or person?
Miranda July’s short story collection No one belongs here more than you. That pretty yellow book destroyed me in the best way. July condenses the incredible weirdness of being a person and injects it directly into the atmosphere of each story.


How did your work in Alyss come about?
My piece Unfamiliar Skin originally began as a project for a Sociology of Sexuality course I took in college. I had an incredible professor who cultivated an atmosphere of openness, humor, and respectful debate in the classroom. It was a place where people felt comfortable sharing stories about their experiences with their own sexuality and gender identity, and even stories about being victims of sexual violence. All in all, it was one of the most important classes I’ve ever been a part of.


The essay I turned in at end of that class contained some sections that remain in “Unfamiliar Skin,” but it was very different. At different points, the essay has been a series of vignettes about every person I’ve slept with, a contemplation on body image, a story about struggling with sexual identity, and an exploration of impulsiveness. I think as it is now, it retains parts of all of those themes, and maybe a bit more. It’s now part of the memoir I’m working on, so it’s still not really complete. It continues to evolve as I evolve in relation to myself and others.


What has been your greatest writing life moment so far?
Winning a contest (my first), selling a story for actual money, and being named a finalist in another contest were all big accomplishments for me this year. But I think the most fulfilling experience was meeting my MFA cohort, and realizing that everything I’ve pursued with writing–from being the weird kid reading poems to my fourth-grade class, to my first publication at nineteen in a (now defunct) online magazine and onward–has brought me to these five beautiful people who I click with so well, who support me and challenge me, who make me a better writer and person.

What is your favorite piece by another writer from a previous issue and why?
Almost Someone Coming Home” by Alexandria Smyth in Issue Deux. It gave me chills as I was reading. So, so beautiful.

What are you currently working on ?
Right now I’m writing a book-length memoir called The Dead Dad Diaries, and putting together two separate poetry chapbooks, which I hope to finish and send off to publishers very soon.

Who/what is your favorite Alice/Alyss?
Comedian Alice Wetterlund.