The Independence believes life is better with art, music, poetry and some creative spark! To do our part, we’ve started a “Creatives Fellowship” program which provides a place to stay for artists who want to get away and have a quiet space to work on their craft. From writers to photographers, painters and vocalists, The Independence welcomes all kinds of artists to stay with us and do what artists do best: create. Today we are excited to introduce you to one of our most recent participants in the Fellowship Program, writer, poet, and singer, Amy Bleu.
Amy is writer, musician, social worker, mother and (mostly) retired model. Her work has appeared in magazines such as BUST, and in anthologies such as Quarter Passed and Flatmancrooked’s Slim Volume of Contemporary Poetics. In My Secret Life is her first novel. Bleu is currently working on non-fiction, poetry and music.
Amy’s inspiration can’t be contained in one genre, she is a poet, songwriter, nonfiction writer and novelist who plays multiple instruments!
Amy is on the cusp of a big year with multiple projects, including a new novel in the works!
Independence Hotel (IH): How did you first hear about the Creatives Fellowship program at The Independence?
Amy: My friend, the comedian, Belinda Carroll, won a fellowship here last year, and she posted pictures on FB and IG. It looked so lovely! I figured it couldn’t hurt for me to apply for it, too. I am so glad that I did!
IH: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Amy: I grew up mostly in Hawaii and learned to play the ukulele there. I was always singing and writing, making up stories, poems and songs for as far back as I can remember! I took creative writing and video production in college, and taught myself to play guitar and bass after that. I started playing music in bars twenty years ago, and by the early 2010s I was able to quit my day job and go live on the road for six months (although also I did some modeling during the day to help pay for my rock and roll lifestyle!). All of that led me to write a novel about a freelance model and all of these quirky things that happen in her life as she travels the country for work.
IH: What inspires you?
Amy: I’m inspired by the hidden motivations of people, the things they do when they are alone and no one is watching. That’s largely what my novel is about. I am an open book, so I am very intrigued by other people who are able to maintain an air of mystery. I also find that the moon comes up in my songwriting and poetry a lot. And my friendships. My friends are amazing! And of course, my little boy.
IH: Can you tell us about an artist you look up to?
Amy: I am really inspired by Storm Large, who is also from Portland. She played music in small bars when she started out, just like me. She eventually got to tour, wrote a book about her life and then turned into a musical play. She also did a little modeling! I think that my trajectory is similar to hers and I hope that I can be as successful as she is one day.
IH: What are some aspects of your creative process?
Amy: I prefer to work alone, in a quiet space. I also go for a run before I write. It really helps me compose my ideas in my head. It’s very meditative.
IH: If you could invite one writer, poet, and musician to dinner, who would you choose and why? (Can be from the past or present.)
Amy: I would invite Joyce Carol Oates, Dorothy Parker and Lady Gaga. Each of them have written something that has really taken my breath away and/or made me cry, and I don’t cry easily. Plus I think it could turn into a wild party.
Amy is a writer, musician, social worker, booking agent and mother
Amy lives in Portland with her son and her cat
IH: If you were to describe your work (or your approach to your work) in three words, what would they be?
Amy: Multi-instrumental, multimedia mayhem.
IH: What is something you have worked on or created that brings you joy?
Amy: My novel was a huge undertaking, but it brought me so much fulfillment! It took me two years to write and two more years to edit, and it’s finally coming out this fall!
IH: How was your time at The Independence?
Amy: It was incredible! I played two shows, recorded a few songs, and worked on a new non-fiction book I’ve been writing. There were a couple of days when I found myself just doing a little editing or promo, and then gave myself the rest of the day off to lounge in the hot tub, go for a walk, or read a book. Or just binge-watch some true crime! That’s my guilty pleasure, especially when I’m in hotels.
IH: Were you able to explore the town at all? And if so, do you have any favorite local spots?
Amy: I did! I loved walking around downtown, down by the river, and I sat (and swung) at Pioneer Park for a bit. I played music at the Tap Station one night, at Brew Coffee and Tap House another night, and stopped into Gilgamesh Brewing for a drink on one of my nights off. I really enjoyed those spots.
IH: What is your favorite aspect of the hotel?
Amy: Either the private hot tub or the rooftop! Oh, and the free breakfast!
IH: Would you recommend The Independence to a friend?
Amy: Yes, in fact, I have! I recommended it to a singer/songwriter friend of mine and she won a fellowship and will be headed there in April! Her name is Abbey Pope and she’s amazing! I think she will probably play a show when she is in town, too.
Ready to hit the town for her show!
Restore and revive on the rooftop
Hot tub time! Downshifting during a productive fellowship
IH: How great that you were able to perform while you were there! What was that process like? How much time do you usually hope for when preparing for a performance?
Amy: I did! It was wonderful. The two shows I played when I was in town were my first two shows of the year! I was feeling a little rusty so I started practicing every day for about an hour, about three weeks before I got there.
IH: Is there anything I didn’t ask about that you’d like to share about your experience at The Independence, or otherwise?
Amy: I just want to thank everyone at the Independence Hotel! I had such a restorative and productive time. I was a surrogate last year and just gave birth this past January, so I was also recovering from that while I was in Independence. It was a great place to spend some of my maternity leave! I worked on a new non-fiction book about my surrogacy journey while I was there and I hope that it will be a helpful guide for others interested in becoming surrogates.
I also want to mention that my novel, In My Secret Life, is coming out through Woodhall Press on Oct 3rd, 2022, and is available on Amazon!
And for anyone interested in my music and poetry, you can hear my songs and some of my spoken word pieces at:
Amy rocked Independence during her stay, here at the The Brew Coffee and Tap House!