Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Alana Saltz

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.

Alana Saltz

Alana Saltz

Alana Saltz is the author of the poetry chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light (February 2020). She’s the editor-in-chief of Blanket Sea, an arts and literary magazine showcasing work by chronically ill, mentally ill, and disabled creators. Her essays and articles have been published in The LA Times, The Washington Post, Huff Post, Bustle, and HelloGiggles. Her poems have appeared in Occulum, Five:2:One, YesPoetry, LadyLibertyLit, and more. You can visit her website at alanasaltz.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @alanasaltz.

here’s the best link for purchasing the book:

http://blanketsea.com/uncertaintyoflight

 

The Interview

1. What inspired you to write poetry?

Honestly, my love of poetry was probably sparked by my elementary school English class’s creative writing exercises. I remember learning about the form at a young age and feeling drawn to it. I wrote a lot of poetry as a way of venting and healing through my teen years and got more serious about it in college, workshopping pieces in my college writing critique group. I took some time away to write prose, but I came back to it a couple years ago when I got burnt out on longform writing and wanted to get back into a form I’d really enjoyed in the past.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My parents read some poetry books at bedtime, authors like Shel Silverstein and Edward Gorey.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

If you mean the abundance of poets from previous centuries being taught in school, I didn’t think much about it until recently. I noticed at the time that it was always refreshing and enjoyable when a contemporary poet, especially a female or diverse contemporary poet, was included in my college English classes. I related to the work so much more and found it more engaging and accessible.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t really have one, and I don’t write every day. I don’t think that’s necessary, and it’s certainly not always possible. My illnesses can get in the way of having the time or energy to write, so I write when I have inspiration and/or the time and energy to focus on it. But I tend to work on writing-related things almost every day. If I’m not writing, I’ll submit work to journals, brainstorm, and/or work on promotion and marketing for upcoming projects.

5. What motivates you to write?

Being someone with multiple marginalized identities and undiagnosed/misdiagnosed illnesses most of my life, I think I’m driven by the desire to be heard and understood and to connect with others in a meaningful way. I also really enjoy when people tell me they got something from my work or related to what I was expressing. That’s a wonderful feeling.

6. What is your work ethic?

I’m very driven when it comes to writing, unless I’m in a slump or feeling too sick to work. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s something I’ve always had with writing.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I read a lot of genre work when I was young in addition to contemporary work. I also read across genres. I think that’s helped me stay flexible and creative even if I start getting stuck on a particular project or writing a particular genre. I don’t feel like I have to be one thing. I can explore and go where my inspiration takes me. I also think that I write what I most enjoyed reading as a teen. As fun as fantasy books could be, I resonated the most with realistic and true stories, and that’s what I ended up writing.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

There’s so much great work going on in contemporary poetry. Most of the books I read and buy are from small press authors because I want to support those presses and my talented poet friends. Small presses take risks and seem to care more about diversity and representation. I really admire poets like Nadia Gerassimenko, Chiwan Choi, Hannah Cohen, Wanda Delgane, Orooj-e-Zafar, Avery M. Guess, and many more I don’t have enough space to mention. They’re conveying important experiences and experimenting with form in unique and compelling ways.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

Writing is my obsession. I can’t quite say why. I like to think I have things to share, experiences that could bring new awareness to issues many of us face, and I put a lot of thought and care into my work.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Read and write. Then read and write more. Keep doing that until you feel good about your work and start sending it out. Don’t get fixated on the end game of a published book or big deal by-line. Start with smaller magazines. Establish credits and a voice. Hone your craft. Get a lot of feedback. Then go where the work takes you.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

My debut poetry chapbook, The Uncertainty of Light has just been published. I have another chapbook that’s currently on submission, which is a compilation of erasure poems from the classic horror novel, Flowers in the Attic. I’m also working on a new mico-chapbook.

(I am asking Alana more specific questions about her book. I will add her answers and my replies as I receive them)

12. What inspired the writing of The Uncertainty of Light?

I’ve had chronic pain and illness since childhood, but until a few years ago, doctors had mostly dismissed my pain or blamed my physical symptoms on mental health issues. When I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I learned the term “chronic illness” and found an online community that helped me learn more about what I was experiencing and how I could find better doctors and treatments for my conditions. Around that time, I decided to start writing poetry again after focusing on essay and memoir for several years. I was spending a lot of time thinking about chronic illness, and it was informing my life in dramatic ways. I knew I wanted to eventually put together a collection of poems that addressed chronic pain and illness, and one that also explored other aspects of my life and how the illnesses affected those things. After a couple years of writing and seeing what work resonated with others, I finally felt ready to put the strongest poems together and create a chapbook.

 

 

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