A shadow adaptation from Mairead Case's work-in-progress about Antigone.
A shadow adaptation from Mairead Case's work-in-progress about Antigone.
Designed and photographed by Sierra Mitchell

100 Colorado Creatives 4.0: Mairead Case

#10: Mairead Case

Mairead Case succinctly describes herself best: “Mairead Case is a working writer in Denver. The author of See You in the Morning (featherproof), Tenderness (Meekling Press), and a forthcoming book about Antigone, Mairead teaches tenth grade language arts in DPS, poetry and narrative at the Kerouac School and every Friday night at the Denver Women's Jail. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from DU and is a former birthday party clown.” She tackled the 100CC questionnaire like a pro.

Case delivering a Naropa Summer Writing Program lecture.
Case delivering a Naropa Summer Writing Program lecture.
Jeffery Pethybridge

Westword: What (or who) is your creative muse?

Mairead Case: My grandmother, who continued to bake, wrap and deliver banana bread to the seniors of Plattsmouth, NE, well into her own eighties. I also love the way Francie Nolan of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn nursed her coffee, and Lake Washington, which I bussed across every day in high school. Sometimes the wind would catch a fish and flip it as high as the low-flying seagulls.

Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party and why?

It depends on the party! One answer is my grandfather, on the other side, who I never met except through stories about his hands (outside a train window, cutting meat for soup on payday)—but I would want to talk with him alone. So we'd buy an extra pizza to share with anyone around on the way out, to make three. Another answer, with me being fully aware that they're all probably hanging out together anyway so it might be a drag to have me in the room too, is Sun Ra, June Tyson and John Gilmore.

Case at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, with Michaelangelo Matos.
Case at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, with Michaelangelo Matos.
David Lasky

What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?

I am but one eyeball of the freakishly awesome spider that is My Creative Community. This is both the best and the worst thing – I have my place, and I can't speak for everyone. One other best thing is Girls Rock Denver, where I am a volunteer. Recently they expanded their mission statement to incorporate the gender spectrum, then backed that up with a rad t-shirt featuring a mouth that could almost be anyone's mouth. There is a fine line between welcoming folks—especially youth—who are transitioning or questioning (in any number of ways!), and maintaining a safe space for empowerment. I think GRD is nailing it.

How about globally?

One worst thing is money bail and pretrial detention.

Case moderates a panel at DATELINE, with (L-R) John-Michael Rivera, Pearl Marie Salas and Juan Gallegos.
Case moderates a panel at DATELINE, with (L-R) John-Michael Rivera, Pearl Marie Salas and Juan Gallegos.
Stephanie Snyder

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the literary arts?

Boulder needs an above-ground queer community space for adults. But one thing we can do immediately, that I already try to do, is to be as transparent as possible about money and mental health. In late-stage capitalism there is a lot of shame around both of those resources, and of course that kind of shame is nuclear. Publicly acknowledging that we're all in this together, individually, is often seen as naïvé or foolish, which is why it's actually super punk.

What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as a creative?

Consciously building a life that teaches me to listen and change, to have strong roots and multiple homes, and to bust my heart wide the hell open (even when it's painful).

Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?

I moved here after attending one summer of Naropa's Summer Writing Program (which I then administrated, and now teach at), which led me to the Creative Writing PhD program at the University of Denver. I graduated in May. I stay here because I have good work here, and people I love, and a sky on fire every night.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

I can't pick one, so I'll pick two (and I could pick fifteen!). Writer and teacher Steven Dunn, and Tara Bannon Williamson at the Denver Public Library. Space-wise, my brain is stronger for Sarah Elizabeth Schantz's (W)rites of Passage workshop in Boulder, and Theresa Mercado's Scream Screen series at the Sie.

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

First and second is showing up for my students, and showing up for my students. I'm also looking for a publisher for my book about Antigone, and continuing work on a graphic novel about the Georgetown Steam Plant (with my collaborator David Lasky). Also, more time to stare at this sky with my people.

Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?

Hillary Leftwich is a strong and elegant writer who is past due to be published and showcased just as sharply as she publishes and showcases others. I can't wait to hold her book. Also, any show Robin Walker plays or books is a true brain-melter.

Mairead Case is one of many small-press authors who will be reading at the Next Lit Fest, August 16 through 19 at various Denver locations. See Case at the Whittier Cafe on August 18 at 4 p.m. Next Lit Fest details on Facebook.

Learn more about Mairead Case online.

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