Maija Elizabeth Ekey is a writer & artist living in Pāhoa, Hawai’i. Maija holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters of Science in Teaching from Pace University. She has published work with Women.Weed.WiFi, Perennial Press, DOLLFEEDER, Recenter Press, Girls Get Busy, Arteidolia Press, & Bluestockings Magazine. Her visual work has been exhibited globally.
Who are you?
i am maija, which roughly translates to "beautiful illusion," or "of the sea." frequent astral traveler occasionally trying to tone it down a bit. an expression of the whole, influenced by that which has grown me, namely, Baltimore, NYC, & the Big Island.
What is your book about?
at its core, pythoness is about love. it is an ode to dreams & the way things went in some other timeline. it is also medicine; an anecdote for the depths of a season & a willing departure into the darkness with an awareness of the candlelight in the distance. it is about the process, the specificity of a moment, the people we have been, & the impulse to look outside of ourselves for meaning & clarity. ultimately, pythoness is about a flash in time outside of time which asks of us healing, fluidity, awareness, & unattached interpretation.
Could you tell us a bit about the process of writing this book?
pythoness emerged out of a deep moment of transition. i had just left a five-year teaching career with the NYC DOE & suddenly had the time & space to process & explore my inner world in detail. most of pythoness was written in 2018-2019 in the form of journal entries, phone notes, & an extensive Word doc for when the pace felt accelerated. essentially, i spent several months hermiting in my Ridgewood, Queens apartment, smoking lots of ouid, spastically collaging/painting the walls of my kitchen, writing, & watching daily sunsets on the roof.
eventually, i eased into the process of refining & editing. the pieces that were meant to take the form of pythoness jumped out clearly & in time found their own order. this felt much like an integration process – sitting with what has arisen, parsing out the gems, sifting through & finding an aligned arrangement, and finally, honoring the process & shape that has emerged.
i was held throughout this period by a team of other artists that informed, read, edited, & spent time with the words that came to be pythoness. they were also on the receiving end of crisis calls when the money ran out, the heart kept breaking, or the mold in the bathroom came back after the umpteenth round of scrubbing. i'll be cheesy & say this creation would not have come into full form without the hearts & minds of Ciena Leshley, Randee Silv, Sam Anacker, Eliza Gilmore, Tola Brennan, Lauren Mettler, & EE Watts, to name a few. woof it's been a journey. mahalo my dudes.
What are some books you’ve read and enjoyed lately and/or books that influenced the writing in your submitted work?
The Three Body Problem, by Liu Cixin, was a great influence during the writing of pythoness. Cixin's ability to fluidly jump through time & space while maintaining thematic threads inspired me to confidently traverse a wide range of settings & stories with a sense of cohesion & ease.
Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys, was also a godsend during the incubation period & birth of pythoness. Rhys' writing lucidly highlights the beauty & transcendental nature of loneliness, isolation, & the strange depths of the human psyche. sentences of hers send me into trance states for days. Rhys shows pain to be noble, worthy, & utterly necessary for a life well-lived.
other notable reads during this time were Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research, by Stanislov Grof, & Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, by Malidoma Patrice Somé.
recently, i got lost in Carlos Castaneda’s The Art of Dreaming, which left me eating drool-worthy cookies in my dreams & spiraling about shapeshifters. at the moment i’m enjoying Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, & i’ve been looking forward to picking up Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery from the post office this week.
How would you describe your book using emojis only?
Anything else you'd like to share?
a quote from Liu Cixin's Death's End, the third book in The Three Body Problem series;
“And now we know that this is the journey that must be made by every civilization: awakening inside a cramped cradle, toddling out of it, taking flight, flying faster and farther, and, finally, merging with the fate of the universe as one. The ultimate fate of all intelligent beings has always been to become as grand as their thoughts.”
if yu want it
totality &nd movement
& n d the law of one
b l i ss ful sur ren d er
audible befr it is visible
in an old victorian house that i think belongs
to the parents of someone i am dating
i go up the stairs and there is a shallow tub
of liquid that you apply to body parts
&nd it tells you if energy is flowing based
on the color that comes up when it is applied
i dip one arm in and it is teal one arm is rose
most of my chest and torso are rose and so
are arms & legs save one muddy thigh
my boyfriend comes in as i am trying to
document the results looking in a mirror
thinking how good my body looks
he says we should photograph it and his
parents agree we are late to something but
everyone seems to think this is more
collect evidence &nd continue
moving up the vibrational scale
broadcast what you want
t u n e to th c h a n n e l
live in the vibration of wonder
every time i am there someone feels like you as if to signify i am in the right place and you are
always around light in the closet just went off but there is no light in the closet
endurance is key
the men of this wrld will have you believe they contain guilt what we have been shown but
tend to forget is that this guilt is a carefully constructd mechanism a microprocessor emitting
nightshade that appeals to a general audience a way to flip it on its side and show yu yr
reflectun as a lesser of two evils now there are orchids blooming thru the cracks onc a yr &
we are left to sit alone in front of our tv that is turned off and wndr i have alwys cringed
at the violence the incst the objcts floatng in and out of my periphery searching regardless fr
the stuff i believed i would find aftr all
but all i did ws endure
i watchd the men around me emit terrifyng noises at a crsh on the screen and fell into
myself wunderng why i could not produce such a pwrfl noise
what would become of me if i failed
falling into a figure8 and drifting away on cnyn rvr rpds
round and round agn i am called many things
by many ppul i learnd to paint my face to
cntrl the noise then calculatd the time spnt &nd
fell into a sorrw of a half century rising as a ghost
an anonymous author whose preservation i fought for as
a senile librarian in 1931
we spend so much reflctng on time spent undr th thumb
we forgt we forged lives after th sky broke &nd
we allowd the light to come rushing in formng
frctals at every surface repeating the process
allowing awe to be the only f ling
i transfrmd myself into a pastel object causing polarized emotions for specific purpos
not every life is the one i tell myself
sitting on a bench in central park
things here exist regardless of time
i have submitted to the city
i will be here after th fall &nd before th gr8 war
sometimes i remember to be somewhere when i am supposd to be
of course it doesn t always work out &nd then i wondr more
caroline is picking flowers &nd tying them into knots
i put them around her head &nd we spin around till we fall
she is a mom in another story she says she has learned so much
if it allows for reflection it is enough
where yu want to be is
unfoldng in everyone els
f o r g e &nd let it fall
i set thm off &nd we watch a str shw rflctd in th sky
mist i n t e r m i n g l e s &nd th spots convulse
all there is to do now is lie down