Poetry Muse: Michelle Lietz + Occasionally Petty

Today’s featured poet is debut author Michelle Lietz, who releases her first poetry collectionOccasionally Petty (At Bay Press). This poetry collection is perfect for all music lovers, as each of Michelle’s poems begin with song lyrics. In our Q&A, she shares how her muse is Tom Petty and how she was inspired by his music when writing her collection. 


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Who is your muse?I don’t normally have a single muse when it comes to my writing, but for this collection, Tom Petty was absolutely a clear and consistent muse for me.What inspired you when you started writing your poetry collection? And what is your creative process when you begin writing?I started writing this collection first as a means of processing the loss of someone whose music and stories have been incredibly influential and comforting to me over the years. I sat down with a notebook, a pen, and played album after album from Tom Petty’s discography, mostly while lying in bed, but sometimes in the park across from my apartment. My creative process is fairly simple most days, no matter where I’m writing, but I’m always better off when I have some music keeping me company for it.When did you start writing poetry and why did you choose to write poetry over other forms of literature?I don’t really think I made a conscious choice about it and tend to think poetry chose me more than the other way around. I’ve been writing some form of poetry for almost as long as I can remember writing, and even when everything else escapes me, poetry is somehow still possible. How would you describe your poetry collection? This collection was undoubtedly heavily influenced by music, so much so that every poem begins with song lyrics, but it also revolves strongly around reflections of time and memory, how stories we tell change over the years, and learning how to hold and express profound gratitude for seemingly simple things. What advice would you give to aspiring poets?Read more. Write even when you don’t feel like it. And take risks whenever they occur to you, because someone, somewhere, will undoubtedly appreciate it. Are there any poets or poetry collections that you admire?I admire many poets, both historically and presently, personally and artistically, and the list seems to grow every year, but the two that I recommend most often would be Tommy Pico’s Nature Poem and Billy-Ray Belcourt’s NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, both of which I found to be brilliant and admirable collections. Does music inspire you when you start writing poetry? Music inspires me constantly, from all kinds of genres and styles and time periods. This collection specifically was inspired by Tom Petty’s music and the ways it has inspired me over the years.

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Michelle Lietz (she/her) is an Indigenous American author of mixed Yaqui, European, and Middle Eastern descent, born in the traditional homelands of the Potawatomi in southeast Michigan. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Literature, and her poetry has previously been published in Prairie Fire’s “NDN City” issue. Occasionally Petty is her first full poetry collection.

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During the month of April, you can buyOccasionally Petty and our other featured Poetry Muse books for 15% off + free shipping in Canada with promo code ALUPOETRYMUSE. Or find them at your local independent bookstore!Keep up with us all month on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook with the hashtag #ALUPoetryMuse. And catch up on the rest of the Poetry Muse series here.