We offer another exclusive Q&A Interview with Ann Christine Tabaka, a writer whose multiple literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of May 2021, and previously of September 2018.
You have participated in our ‘Spotlight on Writers’ series, and now officially have been voted as Author of The Month for the second time. Is there anything else about Ann Christine, the woman that you would like to add from our last interview?
Not much has changed since my last interview with Spillwords. I am older, hopefully, wiser, and also hopefully a little more mature with my writing. I have been writing more abstract and experimental types of poetry than I used to.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or on a keyboard (typewriter or computer)?
I am not one of those writers that dedicates certain times to writing. I write when the mood hits me. Many times, I am lying in bed ready to go to sleep and ideas start to swim in my mind. I always keep a note pad and pen on my night stand, and just start to write. I always carry a pen and notepad with me everywhere. I jot down words, ideas, and sentences when they hit me. Later I will go to the computer and make an MS Word Document that I continue to polish and rewrite until I am happy with the poem or story. As far as hours, I spend several hours every day working on my writing, but not always creating poems and stories. I work at researching publications to submit to, creating submissions, keeping files of my submissions/acceptances/rejections, formatting books, and marketing my books.
What has had an influence on you or your writing since the last time we connected?
I have been doing more poems and stories that are based on my family and my family’s history. Much of it is tragic, and it is very cathartic to write about it. I still enjoy writing about nature and human emotions.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
If you mean any well-known book by a famous author, I have two. “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot, because I have always had a special bond with my cats. Cats are special to me. The poems in that book are spot on!
The second is “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, especially “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Those books are magical and spiritual. They are fairytales for adults that teach a real lesson and are entertaining while doing it.
What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
Making myself write on demand. I want to write every day, but when I try to force it, ideas seem to elude me. Sometimes I come up with what I feel is a very strong stanza or paragraph, then I become lost and cannot finish the poem or story. I have no conclusion. That is very difficult and frustrating for me.
What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
Jotting down those first few thoughts when they pop into my head. I am always excited about something fresh when it comes to me, and when it just flows out, I am happy.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?
My insight into who I am. I used to believe that poems had to rhyme to be poems, and I would try to write about literally everything. Now I am more focused. I know who I am and what I must write about for my legacy.
Any advice you would like to give to your younger self?
Don’t be so darn hard on yourself. It is only a poem/story and your life does not depend on it getting published. I used to panic with every rejection. Oh, rejections still hurt, but I do not live and die by every acceptance and rejection any more.
Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
Read, read, and read more – of everything you can get your hands on. Write, write, and keep writing. Once you do write: read, re-read, read out-loud to listen to how it sounds. If you are meant to be a writer, it will come to you, you cannot force it, but you must keep practicing.
Out of your literary works we’ve published, which is your favourite? And why?
Oh my, how does a mother choose a favorite child from among all her children?
I feel very deeply about “A Father Who Never Was,” a poem in my latest book “Pondering the Shoreline of Existence”. It was published by the Poetica Review in April 2021.
A Father Who Never Was
Born of war and hunger –
a stolen youth
ripped from earth.
Lost within a vanquished spring
as winter counted days.
Black eyes – a raven’s call
follow what cannot be seen,
vagrant visions, dark to light.
Tortured flesh, his inheritance
passed on to each of us, in turn.
A buried past – sunken deep,
the depths of which
We played with death
as little toy soldiers marched.
we hid ourselves from him.
Asking for more than he could give,
a pathway to the sun.
His childhood our childhood,
repeating the mantra
Not knowing how to be a father, husband, son, brother …
he only knew how to die.
He was war and hunger,
writing his own epilog.
Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?
I sure hope so. I am compiling a book of all the short stories that I have written over the past 2 years. I still have a lot of pages to fill, but it will be a first for me. I now have 13 poetry books published and a new one at the publisher, but this will be my first book of short stories.
Anything you would like to communicate with the Spillwords Press Community?
I want to thank each and every person who has read my work on Spillwords and has voted for me. I feel as if each and every one of them is a friend. Spillwords has been such a supportive place; both the team of editors and the readers. It is a place that builds confidence and helps writers feel welcome.
SEPTEMBER 2018 / MAY 2021 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. Chris has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics, and into Spanish. She is the author of 13 poetry books. She has been published in micro-fiction anthologies and short story publications. Christine lives in Delaware, USA. She loves gardening and cooking. Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: The American Writers Review, The Scribe Magazine, The Phoenix, Burningword Literary Journal, Muddy River Poetry Review, The Silver Blade, Silver Birch Press, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.