Laura Mullen

recorded in Baton Rouge, LA

 

Laura Mullen

This is Laura Mullen. I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I've been asked to riff a little bit on Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which is kind of a touch difficult because I just got back to the Uniter States, so I'm a little in shock at being in the Uniter States, period.


The Knox Writers' House

Well, how did you get here.


Mullen

How did I get to Baton Rouge.


KWH

Not from out of the United States [laughs].


Mullen

I was about to say, actually an alien spaceship deposited me here [laughs] and every night I go on my roof and I signal. Okay, I got to Baton Rouge because Louisiana State University had, bless them, the money and the interest to hire a new poet. And that's how I got here. I'm here because of a job at a university.


KWH

When did that happen?


Mullen

The interview would have been spring of 2004. I got here in fall of 2004.


KWH

Where were you before here?


Mullen

Colorado State University in Fort Collins. I've been teaching for a long time and I like to quote the Talking Heads song and say I've lived all over this town. I've taught in Main, I taught in Iowa, I taught in Florida, Colorado, Chicago, and here, now. It's a lot of places.


KWH

What was your favorite place to live, so far?


Mullen

You know what, I really love Louisiana. Love Louisiana. Let me tell you, this place has duende. You know what duende is? It's what Fredrico Garcia Lorca talks about. It's this thing which is its soul, but it's a soul connected to death, and it has that because it hasn't erased its past. I'm a native California. I like to call it the Teflon state. I worked for my uncle who sold antiques, and we could sell, as an antique, something from the 1950s. Because it's California. Here, here you are with me, in my house, which is a duplex that's probably a hundred years old. It was built when the University was in this neighborhood. I'm sure ancient college professors, all of whom were male at that point, smoked their pipes and fingered their leather elbows of their corduroy jackets for years and years here. The landscape is exquisitely beautiful, the nature is amazing, or at least it was before the oil disaster, and especially it was before the hurricanes, plural, because Baton Rouge got really badly hit by Gustav, which nobody really knows about. But it's gorgeous.

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