Layli Long Soldier.
Speaking with Mira Jacob on Thresholds
, Layli Long Soldier MFA ’14 said she will sometimes watch cute animal videos on YouTube in order to get into a mental space conducive to creativity. The method is comical, but the effect is integral to Long Soldier’s practice. “I have to be empty of all of the daily concerns and societal concerns, to a certain degree,” she said. “Then there’s a deeper Layli that’s allowed to come.” Discussing the creative life at length, Long Soldier emphasized the need to accept one’s limitations and to work within them, achieving “creative liberation,” and the need for artists to free themselves from pervasive myths about creativity. “I think there is a false belief that it’s always there,” Long Soldier said. “It is, as they say, a practice. You have to learn the ways to access it, and to use it, and to keep it vibrant and keep it alive.” Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, Long Soldier will be awarded the Charles Flint Kellogg Award in Arts and Letters this May at Bard College’s 163rd Commencement.