We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Ann Christine Tabaka, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of September 2018.
What does it mean to be selected as Author of The Month?
I am honored to have been selected as Author of the Month again. It means that people read my words, and see something of value in them. It means that what I write has some substance. I am always grateful when my words touch someone, even in a small way.
How have your friends and/or family influenced your writing?
My friends and family have had a major influence in my writing. Not only do I often get my inspirations from past events, such as my childhood, but I would never have come out publicly without the encouragement of my friends and family. I have kept a handwritten notebook/diary of my rhymes, poems, and musings since I was 14. It was only when several of my friends kept pushing me to publish them, so that they could have them in print, that I started to get serious about my poetry.
What inspires you to write?
EVERYTHING! No, seriously, everything. Nature is a big inspiration for me. I love nature, animals, and weather phenomena, everything about it. People and emotions (mine and other’s) play a big part in what I write about. It is a need to write down what I feel and see, and then to try to mold it into words, into an image, that others can feel and see as well. To share what I have inside with the world.
As for who inspires me, when I was younger, I was immensely touched by the music of my time. Many of the musicians were poets in their own right. Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Judy Collins, the list goes on. As far as famous poets, I have always loved reading T. S. Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe. I met Maya Angelou at a Women’s Conference at the University of Delaware and she was a compelling poetess and speaker, and I fell in love with her words immediately. A friend of mine introduced me to work by Sylvia Plath, and I have read many of her pieces.
What was your writing catalyst?
My emotional state is usually what spurs me on. The joy of a beautiful sunset, the quiet of a lonely beach that I am on, autumn leaves underfoot, and of course there are the dark times that invade all of our lives. I have had more than my share, but I will not get into that. I write what I see, what I feel, and what I know inside.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
More like “lack of process.” I have a habit of always having a notepad and pen on hand. I write down a thought, or sentence, or stanza whenever it pops into my mind. Sometimes an entire poem (rough version) will come out all at once. Other times I go for weeks writing down a word here or a phrase there, and then all of a sudden, I see how they actually fit together in a cohesive composition. I always write the poems out longhand, revise them longhand, then type them up. Once they are typed up, I edit them further, and often decide that I need to research some of the words or ideas further before making my final draft to submit or publish. I usually have multiple poems going at the same time. I still have some parts of poems in old notebooks from a year ago that just have never come together right for me. I keep them, and maybe someday …
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
That I am sharing a part of myself with the world, with people I know and love, and with people who may feel something strong from what I write. Writing is cathartic for me. I can put down what is bothering me, what I am curious about, what I see or feel at that moment, and then I can look back at it and discover a little more about who I am. Also, there is the immortality of knowing my words will live on long after I am gone.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
I like to paint pictures with my words. To me, that is what poetry is. I was originally a visual artist. I painted and did ink illustrations. Some poems that I write are just for fun and amusement, some are a pouring out of feelings (good or bad), but to me, the best poems paint a picture in the mind of the reader.
What is your favorite reading genre?
Don’t laugh, but I love to read for fun and relaxation, so I am addicted to light murder mysteries that always have cats playing a major part in them, like the “Sneaky Pie Brown” series by Rita Mae Brown, the “Joe Grey Mystery” series by Shirley Rousseau Murphy, and there are many others in that genre. I also love to read serious books like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Right now I am reading The Book of Joy by the 14th Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu.
What human being has inspired you the most?
My mother. She never gave up or gave in. She always tried her best to teach us to do what was right. She suffered much during her lifetime, but she also taught me many things. I have written quite a few poems about her, or because of her. Her memory is strong in me. It is what keeps me going when things are hard.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
THANK YOU! Thank you so much for reading my words and believing in me. YOU are why I write. You keep me going when I want to give up. Many of you have helped me along the way and encouraged me. I love each and every one of you.
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
That I am a poet. That is all, nothing more, nothing less. That my words sang out and touched a few minds, and hearts, and souls along the way.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that I am grateful to all who have given me a hand up along the way, and to the wonderful editors at Spillwords and all the other editors of publications that saw that my work had worth and gave me a chance to be heard.
SEPTEMBER 2018 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 12 poetry books. She has recently been published in several 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 Phoenix; Burningword Literary Journal; Muddy River Poetry Review; The Write Connection; The Scribe, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.