The Rumpus interviews Melissa Wiley

October 12, 2020

Melissa Wiley Author PhotoIn this interview with The Rumpus, Autumn House author Melissa Wiley talks about her newest essay collection Skull Cathedral: A Vestigial Anatomy.

We enjoyed learning what inspired her to write the collection, in particular, her decision to structure her collection around the presence and metaphor of vestigial organs. As Kristine Langley Mahler at The Rumpus describes it, “Skull Cathedral uses the vestigial organs as thresholds into the exploration of what we carry embedded within ourselves, and perhaps what remains despite its seeming uselessness.” The conversation expands to consider how memory, too, can be vestigial:

Memory itself, by its very nature, also seems to me to share something in common with vestigiality. By now, I’ve long outlived the usefulness of so many memories, and yet they still remain. No matter how irrelevant they might be, I can’t get rid of them. In the same way, certain organs or reflexes persist long after we’ve evolved beyond their function. So, I found a reflexive relationship developing between my life and this facet of our evolution.

We’re grateful to Kristine Langley Mahler at The Rumpus for taking the time to sit down to talk with Wiley and share these insights into her work! Read the rest of the interview here.

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