On Writing: With Author Remica Bingham-Risher

Last Updated: February 27, 2024By 4.2 min readCategories: Talking to the Boss

Introduce yourself:

My name is Remica Bingham-Risher. I’m a poet and memoirist who lives in Norfolk, Virginia with my husband and kids and grandbaby who just turned six last Friday :-). 

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I won my first poetry contest in the fifth grade, and it came with a trophy. That was enough to seal the deal for me!

What is your writing process like?

I am a lightning strike kind of writer; the ideas come really fast and furious very early on. But the real writing comes in revision. I do about 20 to 30 revisions for each piece, so ultimately it takes months or years for any one poem to be complete.

What was it like the first time you saw yourself published?

Oh, it was super exciting. I remember seeing my poem published in a literary journal, and I was just so happy to be with other poets on those pages. Seeing my first book come into the world was thrilling for me as well. I remember my godson, Rashad, was about five and he was at my house the day the first box of my books arrived. He helped me open them and I cried, and we laughed together.

SOUL CULTURE_Author photo hi-res 052021 credit Jennifer Natalie FIshTalk about the journey with “Room Swept Home.”

Room Swept Home is my most recent book of poems and it’s been a labor of love. It’s taken me seven years to write it, but really a lifetime of wondering about these women, as I’ve written about two of my grandmothers, and how they intersected during extraordinary events in their own lives. They are our family and historical photographs plus so many other elements in the book. It has ended up being a family history artifact of sorts and I’m so proud of it.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Natalie Fish

What would you say to someone who is just getting started in their writing career? 

Read 10 times more than you write. So that means if you want to write 10 poems, you should read 100 poems beforehand. Reading—looking at how other writers have done the work—is going to be your best education.

What makes you want to write? Where do you find inspiration?

Anything and everything. I love eavesdropping on conversations, looking at sunsets, falling down the rabbit holes of photo albums and visual art. I find inspiration everywhere.

Do you have a favorite book? Author? Top 3 if you can’t decide! 

These will change each and every time someone asks, but here are the three that come to mind today: 

Go Tell It On the Mountain – James Baldwin

Quilting – Lucille Clifton

Song of Solomon – Toni Morrison

What is something or things that you always have on you?

A good pen to write with, whatever book I’m currently reading, and moisturizing, very shiny lip gloss. 

How do you hope to grow both as a person and a writer?

I hope I become kinder over time; you can never be too kind. I hope I become more patient, too.

Do you have words that inspire you?

Many, but today this line from Stephen Dunn’s poem “Story” comes to mind: “Praise the odd, serendipitous world.” I go back to that sentiment often. 

Do you have a relationship with God or a higher power? 

Yes, I’m very spiritual and pretty religious to boot. I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and think about faith, spirituality, on a daily basis. I read my Bible daily too.

What is on your nightstand right now?

Kiley Reid’s Come and Get It.

What’s in your purse right now? 

Pens, lip gloss, chewing gum, medicine, a wallet that needs replacing, a phone charger, all the boring stuff that makes it way too heavy!

If you were to describe your style in three words what would they be?

Eclectic, joyful, luminous.

Do you have a favorite song to write to?

No, but, especially the end of projects, I generally revise to Beyoncé. She gives me “Energy”; the Bey Hive will get it ;-)

Coffee or tea?

Tea (and hot chocolate!)

Optimistic or realistic? 

Optimistic

Favorite binge-worthy show?

Abbott Elementary and, right now, the National Geographic series Genius: MLK/X.

Favorite Instagram account you follow? 

@annotatewithsara or @rtwilliams16, both are brilliant, expansive readers.

Any future writing projects you can share with us? 

I’m working on a novel. It’s a love story. I’ll be writing it for many, many years to come.

What is something someone wouldn’t know about you?

I have very few secrets. It’s all in the work. I’m an open book :-).

 

You can follow Remica on Instagram and purchase her most recent poetry book here.

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