Now is the Time. Memphis is the Place.

Hi, I’m Rachel Layton

I like to use the term ‘ self-raised’ in Memphis when people ask me about my relationship with the city.

While I was technically born in the 901, I grew up just outside of Memphis in Olive Branch, Mississippi. Despite the barrier of a state border, I commuted to high school at Lausanne Collegiate School in East Memphis which helped to shape my passions for the performing arts as well as literature. However, perhaps the more influential aspect of going to school in Memphis was the door it opened for me to begin finding resources for self-expression through the arts right in my own city.

Despite my growing passion for the unique culture Memphians seemed to be cultivating, I applied to colleges far and wide – totaling to fifteen schools in seven different states. However, unable to convince myself that I had fully experienced everything this place had to offer, I chose to attend the University of Memphis as an English Literature and German double major.

Throughout my growing up, I have been passionate about writing fiction and poetry. Once at the University of Memphis, I began publishing poetry in online literary magazines and participating in slam poetry open mic nights at the local coffeehouse, Java Cabana. My gamble to stay in a city I had only recently adopted as my own led me to love its hidden treasures. I invested my time in a personal exploration of Memphis and discovered places such as the thought-provoking and ever-changing street art at Altown, as well as small neighborhood gems like Avenue Coffee in East Memphis where local bands play shows and students stay to work on homework until as late as midnight.

The more I have seen and learned about the culture in Memphis, the more my desire to start forming real attachments to the city itself has grown. I became a volunteer tutor for the City of Memphis MAP program, started working at locally owned restaurant The Second Line in Overton Square, and have continued to grow as an avid attendee of all types of Memphis based performance art – from comedy like Bluff City Liars to local bands playing at Growlers and the Bat Cave. When there aren’t any events going on, you can usually find me in Overton Park discussing anything from feminism to punk music with my friends.

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