Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
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.
is a deaf Cherokee woman living in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry Press – Poets Resist. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence.
Social media links:
Link to Glass Poetry – Poets Resist poem Bullet Tithe
1..What inspired you to write poetry?
This may seem like a blasé answer, initially I found poetry constricting; which of course, was my own limited knowledge at the time. I started following poets on Twitter – Devin Gael Kelly, Kaveh Akbar, Ada Limón, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Chris Campanioni, Brandon Melendez, just to name a few and started really paying attention to poetic nuance. Two years ago, during October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wrote my first poem ‘I Only Know After’. I realized at that time; I could pen my trauma in short burst without having to remain within my visceral memory bank for long.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My introduction to poetry isn’t awe inspiring. Required reading, lesson plans – this is also where I found my love of all things Edgar Allen Poe. Poe wrote dark from a broken place. Coming from a broken home, I found myself drawn to his poetry. Although required reading, my mother wouldn’t allow me to bring a book home she considered sinful. I had to hide my books, read in the library, and during lunch.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
No idea. Although, the more time I spend with the poetry/writing community it’s becoming more apparent. I wouldn’t say dominating, rather strong voices which stand out. I’m more likely to pay attention to poets who encourage and build up those around them. At times there’s a sense of politics, a hierarchy of knowledge and popularity. High School drama is an apt description. I don’t feed into this and wouldn’t say it’s only this community, you find the same things within a group of co-workers, family, among friends. What I am seeing are poets who write bravely, forage their own path and are changing the face of history, poets daring the world to look outside ethnicity, gender, language barriers, opening doors for poetic voices previously overlooked.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
Routine sounds forced. The old adage is words on a page every single day. For me that amounts to reading for pleasure or to study form. Writing a single line or idea counts for words on a page. Editing – not necessarily new words, counts. I don’t believe in forcing words to say I’ve written every day. I’m also out there living. I think the latter is the most important one – a routine in itself.
5.What motivates you to write?
Is motivation need? For me it’s evicting my demons, writing my trauma out of my head. It’s living fully in each moment. I believe poets are emotional historians, cartographers mapping out the heart in words. Keeping my finger on the pulse of life around me. Perhaps, my motivation stems from want, wanting to give my silence a voice. I’m not deaf when I write, I’m loud and challenging. Writing is a bravery in itself, if not motivation – courage in the face of boxed assumptions. To answer this question, I’ll say need. A need to be heard.
6.What is your work ethic?
Insatiable. I drive myself hard. As I’ve said, I’m fairly new on the poetry scene. There is so much I don’t know about form, nuance, line breaks…I’m learning as I go. I write, rewrite, rewrite again, constantly practicing/studying art form. I’m my own worst critic, which drives me to write better. Every single rejection turns into a challenge where I ask myself, can you do better?
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
Poe was instrumental in teaching me there can be light inside the darkness. Helen Keller taught me nothing is impossible, if there is a will – there’s a way. Anne Frank let the child me know, we all fear, we’re all facing impossible things that corrode our innocence. She also taught me sometimes our stories keep us alive long after we die.
8.Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
Ilya Kaminsky. Deaf Republic wasn’t about his/my deafness and our silence, rather how silence can be the loudest scream or the most profound reckoning. In a sense when he writes deaf becomes something other than a disability locked inside a box of assumptions. Brandon Melendez is another poet I admire. I can’t think of any other way to describe that admiration but to say his words punch through life. He gives substance to the every day. There’s so many more – the poets who have garnered recognition, yet remain approachable, encouraging, paving the way for other marginalized voices. Joy Harjo, on becoming the first Native American poet laureate. My respect and admiration belong to every single poet who sat down and penned a poem – all the emotional historians.
9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I can give my silence a voice. Writing is therapy, an outlet in which trauma is shared. Words feel natural to me, I’m at home inside my writing. When I write I’m not deaf, I’m ageless, I’m you and I’m not – I can breathe. More importantly, writing is a gift of words shared with one another. Writing is resistance, a call for change, a catalog of raw truths exposed in mere words.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
You have to want it, put in the work and time. Anyone can write, we’re all taught the basics; but if you really want to write, do it from a place inside – keep your finger on the pulse of life around you. Never stop studying, reading, keep word interest in your every day.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
None. Honestly, I’m submitting poems to various Lit magazines and I’m gathering a file of rejections and working toward far more acceptances. Eventually I would love to have a chapbook or book of my poems out in the world. Right now, it’s all about enjoying the journey and becoming a better writer.