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EMC Question Words with... Lisa B. Molina, author of "Don't fall in love with Sisyphus"

There are books you read, that remind us how small our problems actually are and to remember the bigger issues in life—this is that book. Don’t Fall in Love with Sisyphus by Lisa Molina shows us a boy negotiating for his life refusing a 40% as his chance at surviving, insisting that he is given 10 percent more. Emotional, in-the-moment, honest, and continually showing us how we are connected and how an anonymous stranger can change one’s life. Rarely do I call poetry chapbooks “page-turners,” but this is a book that would not let me set it down. Molina’s words will make you better and change you, they did me.

~ Kelli Russell Agodon, Dialogues with Rising Tides (Copper Canyon Press)

WHO is Lisa B. Molina?

Lisa Molina is a writer and educator in Austin, Texas, where she earned a BFA at the University of Texas at Austin. She also served as Associate Publisher of Austin Family Magazine. Molina now works with high school students with special needs, and enjoys spending time with her family, as well as writing and reading poetry and books with her cat in her lap.

Molina’s next chapbook will be available for presale in November 2022, and will launch in March 2023. Her writing can be found in numerous online and print publications, including Fahmidan Journal, Beyond Words Magazine, Sparked Literary Journal, Trouvaille Review, Neologism Poetry Journal, Amethyst Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Tiny Seed Journal, Pop the Culture Pill, and Peeking Cat Literary.

WHAT do you write? I’ve written poetry mostly, and I’ve also had a few flash fiction and creative nonfiction pieces published in the past year. I’m hoping to write and publish more FF and CNF in 2022. Most recently, I’ve written “Don’t Fall in Love with Sisyphus,” an E-book published by Fahmidan Publishing & Co, about my experiences as the mother of a child who battled leukemia three times by the age of thirteen, culminating in an unrelated cord-blood transplant that saved his life, and how those experiences have affected me.

WHY did you write Don’t Fall in Love with Sisyphus? Writing about my memories, and my own interior experiences, helped me to process the traumatic events of the years my son battled cancer, especially now that I have the benefit of hindsight. It was very therapeutic and healing for me to write these pieces. Also, it was wonderful for me to remember and memorialize the small acts of kindness by other people. Those acts truly helped sustain me and remain hopeful in such devastating times. Perhaps most importantly, since my son now shares the DNA in his blood with another person on the planet that we will never know, I wanted to share the wonder and awe of those mysterious connections we have to all of humanity, that we cannot even begin to fathom, through the writing of this book. (Apologies if that sounds overly philosophical or pompous.) I’m very grateful to my son, for reading this work before I submitted it, and giving me his blessing to share the poems in this collection.

HOW did the idea for “Don’t Fall in Love With Sisyphus” come about? I realized fairly quickly that I had written several poems about the experience of dealing with my son’s battles with cancer, and so it seemed natural to combine them into a chapbook. The book’s title comes from the the final poem in the book. I often felt that my son’s life was like that of Sisyphus: every time we thought he was “cured,” the cancer would come roaring back, and he would have to begin pushing the rock back up that mountain. A few years ago, I was blown away when I read Camus’s “The Myth of Sisyphus,” and I also vividly remember a painting of Sisyphus by a street artist, from when I was in college, so the idea of Sisyphus, and what the myth represents, has resonated with me for a long time. I want this collection to express the universal experience of feeling utterly helpless when someone you love is suffering a life-threatening illness; be it cancer, another physical disease, addiction, mental illness, etc; and how those experiences change who we are, and shape how we perceive life. And, I hope, show the grace and wisdom that can come from it.

WHEN do you usually write? Since I work full-time with high school students with special needs, I usually write on weekends, and I’m always jotting down ideas or lines that come to me in a small notebook I keep with me, or even in my notes app on my phone. Both of our children still live with us, so I’m very lucky to have a husband who supports my writing by taking care of many household chores, while also working full-time as a DNA scientist, thus giving me the time and space to follow this passion of mine. I’m also inspired by Shirley Jackson and Sylvia Plath, and how they found time to write while raising children, with whatever time they had, even if it meant walking up at 4:00 in the morning. I write as much as I possibly can during breaks, especially summer break. I’m looking forward to retiring soon, so I can have more time and energy to write and read during the week.

WHERE can readers find your book?

It can be found here. I decided to give any of the royalties I receive from the sales of this book to The Children’s Blood and Cancer Center of Dell Children’s Medical Hospital in Austin, Texas, where my son received most of his treatments over the course of ten years of his childhood. They are the reason my son is alive today.

Disclaimer: Every EMC interview series seeks to promote the artist and their featured writing and is in no way an endorsement of any of said artist's services, opinions or other work outside of this feature.


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