Issue 84: Maia Elsner


About Maia Elsner

I grew up between Oxford and Mexico City, with stints in France and Italy. I began writing poetry while studying migration, race and incarceration in Massachusetts in 2017. Recent work has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Colorado Review and Periphery.

‘Goldfinch’, The Missouri Review:

‘Siqueiros “Birth of Fascism” and Rivera’s “The Arrival of Cortes”, The Ekphrastic Review:–elsner

‘Threshold to Coyoacan Plaza, Mexico City’, The Ekphrastic Review:–elsner

‘Lucrece’, Colorado Review:

‘Michelangelo’s “The Awakened Slave”, 1520’ and ‘Leonardo da Vinci “The Adoration of the Magi”, 1481’, Periphery:



A Profile of the Author

Notes on “Lullaby”

When my siblings and I were little, my mother would sing to us the songs of her childhood, before we fell asleep. It was as if she was willing Mexico into our dreams.

For me, the lyrics of the traditional Mexican song ‘Cielito Lindo’, popularized in the 1880s by Mexican composer Quirino Mendoza y Cortés, and ‘Amapola’, written in the 1920s by Spanish American singer José María Lacalle García, have always held within them my mother’s nostalgia for a world lost, the pain of years spent away from her loved ones, and the borders – not only physical, but also linguistic, psychological and emotional – that have characterized her experience in England, and mine.
Writing ‘Lullaby’ felt like tracing the echoes of my mother’s voice from the rubble of memory. Even now that I read my poem out-loud, I hear in my head the sound of her singing. In a way, ‘Lullaby’ is a love-song to my mother – to all she gave up, and all she gave to me.

Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens, etc.

My current favourite thing is listening to Havana meets Kingston, or Miles Davis or possibly Atahualpa Yupanqui, with a group of friends. I have recently become obsessed with underground rivers, the tributaries of the Thames that once shaped the landscape, but are now buried, alongside their stories, myths and gods, encased in concrete. Catch me at weekends walking London’s abandoned canals or with a sloe-gin in the corner of a pub. I’m a fan of candles, making figures out of wax, pockets, tostones, dancing, my orange-peal earrings and peach-stone necklace, jasmine-scent, jacaranda flowers.


“Elodie” by Jennifer Christman

Found in Willow Springs 86 Back to Author Profile IT’S AROUND THE TIME my mother, formerly Roseclaire, emerges from the lower depths. She’s been living in the basement since I was … Read more

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