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Check Out Zorina Exie Frey’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Zorina Exie Frey.

Hi Zorina Exie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
As a literary artist, I began writing poetry after my childhood friend died. Back then, I lived in South Bend, Indiana. I was journaling, trying to make sense of things, not realizing I had written poems. I kept writing, joined poetry collectives, and attended open mics. It wasn’t long before I performed spoken word poetry. Most of my performances were at community events and churches. When I became too outspoken for church, I discovered Michiana’s Monologues. This Indiana University South Bend open mic platform presented anonymous theatrical storytelling for and by women. As a performer, I read someone else’s story while anonymously submitting my own. I also listened to someone else read my story while watching the audience sympathize with it. The submissions that weren’t selected for the stage were published in a book for the university’s Women’s Study program. One of my stories, “It’s Weave, Get Over It,” was chosen by a student for her final exam in a Mixed Media class. I was able to truly exercise the art of memoir writing when I moved to Miami. I’ve performed on stage at Lip Service, True Stories Out Loud, The Miami Book Fair, Artistic Vibes, Naked Angels, and Just the Funny Improv. Now I co-host the Writing Class Radio podcast and facilitate one of its weekly online memoir writing groups. I chose to refine my storytelling skills by getting an MFA in Poetry and Creative Nonfiction from Converse University in South Carolina. I also work as the Poetry Editor for South 85 Journal, so I’m not on stage as often as I used to be.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Pursuing writing as a profession is not for the faint of heart. Whether writing poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, screenwriting, or a how-to book, you’re putting yourself out there to be critiqued, applauded, and rejected. The struggle is being ok with all that while continually adapting to the evolving industries adjacent to the writing profession that requires some online expertise. That’s the short version of my answer. A shorter version is no!

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
As a writer, I specialize in poetry, creative nonfiction, fiction, screenwriting, and graphic novels. Working on all of these genres is a seasonal thing. Some projects are set on the back burner while I’m working on others, then I pivot according to deadlines and monetary projects. Aside from being one of the 12 contributing poets for Chicken Soup for the Soul, I’m Speaking Now, the project I’m most proud of is a recent manuscript I’ve spent 2 ½ years of my MFA career writing. My untitled book is a collection of poetry that reports cultural, economic, social, and even conceptual redlining situations. I use journalism’s progressive platform to report Black lynchings, music appropriation, colonial appropriation, and more. This manuscript might even pass for a novel-in-verse. My poems also reflect Afropessimism in America while imagining an afro futuristic hope. My work pulls from pop culture labels used to identify, control, and mysticize African Americans to ground readers in real-life situations. This body of work is an in-depth poetic investigation revealing how a person of color physically and intuitively navigates the constructs of white America. It’s the most thorough collection of poetry I’ve written yet.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I’m charmed by the variety of literary art events Baltimore offers; I’ve joined the Maryland Writers’ Association and EC Poetry & Prose. I’ve also attended Busboys and Poets and a few other open mics in the city. Having lived in Miami for 7 years, I’m not a fan of cold weather, though!

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Image Credits
Image Credits: IWA Publications

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