No surprise that when she is asked to name her favorite mode of transport, Maya Stein responds, "bike!"
This is a woman who is about to Type Ride across the country. What does it mean to "type ride" you may ask? Well, if you are a poet with a wild heart (and a pair of killa strong legs, ahem) it means you got this amazing idea of how best to celebrate your upcoming birthday.
As Maya writes, "on May 5 - the day I turn 40 - I will be leaving my current home of Amherst, Massachusetts and riding my bicycle for 40 days toting a typewriter behind me. My goal is to gather poems from the people I encounter on the road. I'll be setting up a mobile writing station during my stops along the way, and plan on arriving in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - the birthplace of the typewriter!! - on June 14."
I was lucky enough to be at the table next to Maya last September as we were both taking Susy Pilgrim Water's class. The class was delicious and I had so much fun-- partially, of course 'cause Susy is a hoot and opens you up to the most pure level of creativity-- but also, definitively, because Maya and I got in a groove of storytelling and sharing as we mucked about making our chef d'oeuvres. Maya's facility with word play and the way her mind skips and jumps to new ideas to make fresh and exciting connections-- well, it's like electricity, really-- and I was hooked.
And, all I can tell her lucky students is, kids-- be ready for one wild and heart-expanding ride!
Below are some questions our intrepid interviewer Jen posed to Maya recently (although Jen will tell you she was relieved to know that no bike riding would be required for the interview).
Where were you born?
Halifax, Nova Scotia. Apparently, on the evening of my birth, my mother was in a singing group, belting out Mozart. I have zero knowledge of classical music, but one of my most favorite things is to drive in the car, singing along at the radio at the top of my lungs.
Describe yourself in 5 words...
Tall, green-eyed, freckly, left-handed introvert
What sounds calm you?
The breeze after a summer rainstorm. My nephew’s breathing while he sleeps. Frying onions.
What are your some of your favorite spices/herbs?
Lemon-pepper and Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. I took these a small container of each of these in my backpack on a solo 3-month trip to Australia after I graduated from college, and it’s funny to say but I never felt alone because of that.
What is your most ideal vacation?
My friend Laurie’s family has a house about a minute from the beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. I’ve gone there three times with Laurie and a couple of other friends, and it just doesn’t get much better than cocktails on the lanai to watch the sunset. And going to sleep with the sound of the ocean. And waking up to that warm, clean air.
What colors are carried throughout your home?
Bright orange is a must. And a particular kind of green that’s somewhere between olive and loden. And somewhere or other, there needs to be a splash of yellow.
What is something you would like to learn to do?
Scuba diving. Juggling with another person. Sign language. These are probably all metaphors for something.
Country mouse or City Mouse?
More country mouse, I’m sure…need a lot of nature around me to feel grounded. But I lived in San Francisco for 16 years, so I fare well in cities too. Give me a coffee shop, a place to get a good gimlet, and a shop selling funky non-essentials, and I’m happy as a clam. In general, I think I inhabit this motto much of the time: Living the contradictions.
What song reminds you of you of your childhood?
I can’t say that there are any songs in particular that remind me of my childhood. But skinny kids with glasses always do.
When you were younger, what was your favorite candy/snack at the movie theater?
I was a Sour Patch Kid fan, through and through. Although I’d say Milk Duds were a close second.
Gondola, hot air balloon, motorcycle, or bike?
Bike. Definitely bike. Long, leisurely rides on country roads. And stopping to take photos of cows or something. I was in Taos, New Mexico about a year-and-a-half ago, though, during a hot air-balloon festival and there was something incredibly magical about seeing dozens of these launch into the air. The build up and then that sweet drift upward. I very badly wanted to hop into one of the baskets and see what it looked like from up there.
What is the best part of your day?
That impossibly late hour when it feels like the whole world has gone quiet. It’s always the best time for me to write. It’s like the words need that silence to pass through the doorway into being, and I have to go soft-focus, too, in order to really catch what they’re saying.
If you want more of this poet's words and reflections, you can follow Maya on her blog
*gorgeous photo of Maya taken by her neice, Shira Hereld.
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