We offer our first and exclusive Q&A Interview with Lea Wülferth, a writer whose literary works have been featured on our Spillwords pages as well as being Author of the Month of December 2017.
What does it mean to be selected as December’s Author of The Month?
I am so happy my writing has resonated. And to start the year this way – I’m ready to create and engage more with the writing community.
How have music and art influenced your writing?
They feel very connected in my creative practice. With my background in visual arts and film, I often think (and even feel) in images, for which I try to find the corresponding words. Working in music, some poems start as song fragments in the way that variations of lines are repeated or I’m looking for a rhythm. I also like actively making connections between different fields, such as pairing images with writing: I may have a story in mind that I embody in an image; and words can add levels of meanings and other perspectives to an artwork – even a title can act as a commentary.
What inspires you to write?
I love language, words. So I am almost always inspired to write something, albeit not always the most inspired things.
Currently, I am interested in exploring themes of freedom, identity, memory, and truth(s) on a personal and socio-political level. That applies to both my visual art and my writing – and my life as a whole.
Of the different forms of expression, writing has perhaps been the one where I most closely engage with my feelings. It seems well suited to an introvert.
What was your writing catalyst?
When I started learning to read it was a revelation to me – I saw the world differently, suddenly finding added meaning in colorful signs and any bit of text around me. Soon after, I started writing myself. I kept a journal and wrote pieces from wishful stories to tv scripts to nonsense poems. It has since become even more important to me, as a way to let thoughts flow as well as to organize my thoughts and distill a thought or feeling. So writing was almost a constant.
The catalyst to publish and to see myself as a writer came much later. For most of my life I thought of myself as more of a visual artist if anything. Then I realized that I had spent at least as many hours in my life writing. This coincided with a decision to express my voice and allow myself to take up space in the creative fields I value.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process?
For poetry, the process usually starts with a spontaneous thought or turn of phrase. I may take a note on my phone or just repeat it and turn it over in my head. Then I chisel away at that. Sometimes a first draft just flows. Other times I set structural limitations for myself such as “construct it as a haiku” or “create a visually interesting arrangement of words” or I hone in on a mood or image to take it to the next step. I may return to something years later where suddenly an image connects with an emotion or finds its mate in another line.
What would you say is most fulfilling about writing?
Language is amazing. I grew up bilingually and was so intrigued by words, turns of phrases, the difference between literal and more imaginative or idiomatic translations. Combining and rearranging words is such joyful play.
Writing is also a wonderfully empowering and sometimes surprising process in which you learn to think more clearly or get to the heart of a feeling. I use words to explain things to myself. In order to understand my thoughts and feelings, to grasp them, I “circumscribe” them. – And am able to revisit or share them at any time.
Does the addition of imagery help to tell your story?
Yes. Imagery opens the space between the lines, triggering richer associations and multitudes of feelings. The imagery, and even the title, of Winter (published on Spillwords last month), for instance, alludes to the themes of memory, melancholy, nostalgia and transition. I have also written about Spring and Summer and
corresponding feelings. As humans and biological beings it is so natural to understand the imagery of the seasons as emotions. I’m also happy for readers to find their own interpretations among the images and between the lines.
What is your favorite reading genre?
I like having multiple books to read at the same time, usually a balance of genres: the autobiography of Assata Shakur, a fantasy novel with a female protagonist, a volume of poems by Langston Hughes or Mascha Kaléko… Word building blocks made into such different creations!
What human being has inspired you the most?
This question made me dive into my subconscious and realize that – oh cliché! – I actually aspire to be more like each of my parents in certain ways. To me, my father has always seemed extremely secure in who he is; he did what he wanted without undue concern for authority or “the way things are done.” My mom has been an example to me in terms of compassion and tolerance; she’s always teaching me to see another perspective, to understand people and situations more deeply. The good news is that chances are I will become more like them – the old “you are turning into your mother,” haha.
What message would you have for the Spillwords Press community that voted for you?
Thank you! I’m so grateful to be welcomed into the Spillwords Press community. It’s a really great feeling to be part of a supportive creative circle. The timing also feels like that mysterious way in which life moves in beautiful connecting circles. In my non-writing life, my friends and I run a music company, YouTooCanWoo, which we’ve been building as a creative hub for musicians, filmmakers, artists and people in related fields. We revisit our mission statement and goals before every new year, and at the core it always remains the same: to create a supportive environment for creativity. Happy 2018, spread the love!
What would you like your legacy as a writer to be?
I am not concerned with legacy as much as with being and a positive process of living and working. My aspirations as a writer only exist in as far as it they are tied to my intentions as a human, which is – to paraphrase my favorite quote: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to appreciate beauty; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.” If writing can be part of that that’s amazing.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Have I said ‘Thank you’ enough? You have really made me very happy and given me quite the boost.
DECEMBER 2017 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Born and raised in Germany, Lea Wülferth has been living and working in Brooklyn, NY since 2009, writing and making art under her name and the pseudonym L Peregrine. Inspired by themes of freedom, identity, memory, and truth, her work spans a spectrum from documenting and commenting on observed scenes and settings to abstract, surreal expressions in a range of visual media and the written word.