A native Montanan, Camille Griep lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. She is the author of two novels, in addition to a catalog of short fiction and memoir pieces. An editor by day, she also serves as communication director for Prison Renaissance, a nonprofit dedicated to developing the professional skills of incarcerated artists in collaboration with academia, activists, and artists worldwide.
90s British house music inspires her. As a teenager in Billings in the 90s, she didn’t have a lot of great choices on the radio until about midnight on Sundays.
“After that, it was Nina Blackwood and other MTV era countdown queens. Round about 1 or 2am, they broadcast something called *UK Chart Attack!* which, in those days, was full of house music and other dance music from across the pond. No one knew what to do with my musical tastes back then but you can bet when folks need a workout mix these days, I'm the one they call.”
When asked what change she wants to see in the world, Griep replied, “Can we just get rid of the fucking Nazis already? But seriously. If I had one wish it would be that people would have more empathy. It starts in places like the airport where if we simply acknowledged that everyone is going somewhere, we might not act as if we were the only one inconvenienced when problems occur. But the larger reach is what we're seeing politically. "I want what's mine and fuck you." I don't know how we became so fervently entitled and unable to even acknowledge the struggles of others. It makes me profoundly sad, so I have to go listen to more house music.”
As a wordsmith, Griep exists in a framework where most of academia argues that there are only 15 or 7 or 3 stories in the whole world and we're all simply retelling them over and over. “In many ways that's true; in many ways it's not. Voice matters. Perspective matters. Timing matters. I stole my first novel from the Grimm brothers but they stole it from the women of the Bavarian countryside who let those boys in and gave them little cakes never knowing that they'd be selling their folklore and get credit for it forever and ever. Yes, it's stealing. It's also returning. Artists are the Robin Hoods of ideas, and each time those ideas are touched they grow stronger. It's really quite beautiful. Almost as beautiful as house music.”
Greip is one of several poets performing at the second annual Dreyfest Poetry Jam, taking place Friday at Craft Local, 2413 Montana Ave.