I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
Tianna G. Hansen
has been writing her whole life and discovered an affinity for all genres but poetry will always be her first love. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and her cat Stella. Tianna is the founder/EIC of Rhythm & Bones Press (rhythmnbone.com) and her published work can be found at creativetianna.com. Follow her: Twitter @tiannag92 / IG @tgghansen24 / FB @tiannaghansen.
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing over another that inspired me to write poetry. It seemed to come naturally to me. I’ve spent my whole life writing, composing poems and stories on paper and in my head. Poetry was always a solace for me, somewhere I felt at home and like I could rest easy. Somewhere I could release all these bottled emotions and find peace. My mother is a poet and always said she transferred her muse to me in the womb. I’ve always felt things very deeply and tried to put those feelings into words – thus, poetry seemed to find me, something that grew into a necessity over time. A catharsis, a release. I remember sitting in the backseat of the car as a kid at night, following the moon with my eyes, which in turn seemed to follow me, never disappearing, hanging there like a shining orb I couldn’t take my eyes off of. I was smitten. That moment seems to describe my relationship with poetry well, too. Finding beauty in every moment and crafting it into something tangible with words.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
I guess you could say my mother-muse introduced me to poetry, but truth is, I can’t quite remember. I always admired Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath’s poetry. I remember handing in a personal poetry book (an assignment in high school) and receiving it back from my teacher with the words “YOU ARE A POET” written on it and underlined. I think that moment right there was my affirmation that I can write this, more than just read it. I will also always remember visiting a relative one summer and finding what seemed to be an ancient book of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poems. I was so drawn to his words, I started copying down entire stanzas and then entire poems. I didn’t part with the book for a week and when it was time to go home, the relative gifted me the book. I still have it with my other old books collection.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
The poets who have always been at the forefront of my consciousness when writing or thinking about writing are Plath, Dickinson, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, Longfellow, and countless others. I think as a contemporary writer it’s good to be aware of who came before but also not to allow this to dominate you in your own creations – make a name for yourself and a style all your own. I was always told: write what you want to read, what hasn’t been created before. I continue to be amazed by the contemporary poets of today. I’m surrounded by an infinite number of talented writers, and it rejuvenates me to see the creative spirit living on.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I haven’t fallen into a strict writing pattern or routine yet, although it is something I crave. I find myself writing whenever I have a spare moment, even (guiltily) composing poems in the car on my commute, at my desk during my day job, while trying to sleep, watching the moon in the sky at night, and any other number of odd places. I think it frustrates my husband quite often because I am always partly inside my head writing poetry. I often like to take the day-to-day mundane and craft it into lyrical poetic lines. I’m fascinated by mythology, lore and legend, and love the opportunity to dive into some research and write based on this. I’m always writing poetry whenever I feel strongly about something – love, loss, grief, joy. My emotions fuel my writing passion and so I write whenever I am moved to. I write without restraint or any set routine whatsoever.
5. What motivates you to write?
I kind of touched on this above but whenever I am feeling an emotion very strongly I feel compelled to write. My emotions spur composition. Not writing is harder and worse than writing for me. I write because I can’t stand not writing. I write because I need to. I’m inspired by so many things daily: the curl of the wind in the trees, the tilt of the sun or the moon in the sky, anything that ignites a passion inside me. When it comes to my creative nonfiction, I’m motivated to tell my story, of my past and what I have endured and survived in hopes of helping someone else navigate the pathways of trauma, abuse, and mental illness. For my fiction, I like to craft a world like an escape, for myself as the writer and for my readers. No matter what I write, I leave pieces of myself in every line like a treasure map of my soul.
6. What is your work ethic?
As a Capricorn Sun & Moon I am an insane workaholic, I rarely allow myself to rest. I’m ambitious and like to do as much as I can; which can often be a fault as well. I work hard and throw my all into everything I do. Especially when I’m passionate, I will work tirelessly, like on my small press/lit mag Rhythm & Bones (link: https://www.rhythmnbone.com). I like to champion anything I set my mind to doing with R&B although there are times it can be exhausting. I’m the same way when it comes to my own writing projects: tireless, motivated, passionate, fearless.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I read so many books when I was young but those that truly stuck with me are the poets I mentioned earlier, among many others, and all the fantasy writers I would consume. I was always drawn to medieval historical fiction. My first novel is fantasy and I loved escaping into that world. As I’ve grown, my writing has evolved to be more personal and confessional but I will always have roots in fantasy. I hope to one day mix the two, and that’s what my current WIP novel somewhat does. It isn’t fantasy-based per-say but it is based on some of my own experiences while maintaining a hard fictional quality. It gave me enough of a separation to develop the characters and I hope to see that novel published someday. It combines my experiences of abuse with my passion for prison reform, along with a nice hidden mix of mythology.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I admire so many of today’s writers but have a fondness for my writing group, The Legend City Collective. The writers there are all so supportive and talented and have stuck by my side through a lot. I learn new things from them every day. I also admire all of the authors I’ve published at Rhythm & Bones Press (link: https://www.rhythmnbone.com/books). The talent they bring to the page as well as turning their own traumas into art is a big motivator and inspiration for me.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
Writing is my first true love. I found writing at a time in my life that was full of upheaval. When my parents divorced in second grade and I discovered none of my friends at the time were going through anything similar, I felt alone. I channeled my feelings into creating, and it stuck with me ever since. My family knows I’ve been writing my whole life; it is more than a best friend, it is my constant lover who I know will never leave. Writing is my soul mate. My security. I’ve found writing is a constant, writing is powerful and meaningful and fulfills me in ways that anything else couldn’t. I wrote my first novel before I entered high school (it’s still sitting in a drawer somewhere to my mother’s dismay). I started writing poetry around that time, or earlier. I composed stories when I was very young and my little sister would be the first reader, scurry away with pages and pages of handwritten tales. I feel, although this might sound corny, writing was always my destiny.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You’re a writer the moment you pick up a pen or start typing. You’re a writer once you compose a line of poetry or a sentence. Once you string words together.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I’m in a constant revision spiral for my novel mentioned above, Chasing Cassandra. I wrote the first draft at the end of my MFA program and have since been revising and tweaking. I’m also working on a few poetry manuscripts and hoping to have a full-length poetry collection eventually. It’s always a little difficult for me to compile poems together but I love the challenge of linking strong themes together and always discover something pleasantly unexpected. I’m still basking in the glow of having my debut poetry collection Undone, Still Whole (link: https://www.creativetianna.com/undone-still-whole) released with APEP Publications, which chronicles my journey through trauma to come out on the other side of healing, channeling the feminine divine to garner strength and power on this pathway. I’ve also released a poetic opera A Victorian Dollhousing Ceremony with two other poets, a beautiful collaboration which challenged me to enter the mind of a character, The Firebird, while taking from my own life. Right now, I have an erotica poetry collection ongoing, a confessional poetry collection, and one about entering recovery (both from trauma/abuse and addiction). I would love to also get back to work on a novella I had plans for a while back, and eventually begin writing my next novel. The writing projects seem endless, but that’s an exciting place to be.