As part of our ongoing series interviewing writers , authors and poets in the AWwYP stable, we’d like to highlight Tiffany Vakilian. Read on about her practice of writing (and singing) and about what grounds finding your voice.
1) What is the difference between passion and lust?
Lust is a succubus drug that will never be filled. Passion has an end game (even with a long shelf life).
2) Why do you want to wear silk shirts?
Silk shirts are a symbol of being comfortable in my own skin. There is a point in writing when I said something that scared me, and I just couldn’t help feeling wonderful, despite being scared of how I would no longer be in control of it once I let it leave my hands. In About My Nipples, I celebrated a taboo body part, and every time I read it, I feel wonderful, despite knowing that I have set myself up for 13-year old humor and mockery. I don’t mind the magic. Truth melts it.
3) what is the difference between your singing voice and your writing voice?
My singing voice is much more untethered than my writing voice. I have tapped into something very solid under me by writing, and it lets my voice remain my own, whether singing or writing. It hurts and it feels wonderful. Writing helps me understand myself, and others. Kristy Webster is right. Art saves lives.
4) What one thing would you like to whisper in Donald Trump’s ear? Barack Obama’s?
Is it still worth it?
5) What would you like readers to take away from reading your first book of poetry?
I want readers to connect their life poetry with my life poetry. Some people write things that unlock freedom for me, and I’m hopeful that the words on the page can unlock something for others – fun, laughs, healing, heartbreak, silliness, coffee sipping imagery.
6) In some of your poetry, you convey self-worth and empowerment. Where does that empowerment come from?
I tell many people, “God, my man, and my mama love me.” My Mom poured love on me like syrup on flapjacks. “Hello beautiful”, is what I heard when I was little, and it is the way she answers the phone when I call even now. That love and support helps me to go after the things I need to work on to get better. I know I am loved and that love helps me want to improve and empower not just myself but others.
7) You wrote a poem about not wanting to write. You spoke of your character patiently waiting for you to get her out of the last situation you left her in. Was that literally how you felt or was that a parallel to something going on in your life that you were waiting on?
The scene I referred to in the poem where the character Mylu’s “butt-bone [was] on fire”, is from a story that I began writing in High School, and plan to finish this year. I’ve been stuck with writer’s block, physical inability to write, etc. in various times and seasons of my life, and it sucks. I read poems about writer’s block because then I don’t feel like I’m alone in that sucky-stuck place. It was natural to write about it.
8) How did you get the TLA title?
In 2010, I went to Goddard College for my Master’s Degree with a concentration in Transformative Language Arts (TLA) – Transformative Language Arts is the study of the use of spoken, written, sung or embodied word-art to facilitate social change. I had to write a Master’s Thesis (which I did, in the form of a play) and gave an hour long presentation about my understanding of what I’d learned – I began writing and publishing poetry on my blog at www.tiffanyvakilian.com and as my consistency of delivery of poetry increased, I realized I was walking out my Transformative Language Arts practice in a personal way. That TLA is affecting my community, and has been since I received my Master’s in 2013. Ugly Drawers, Pretty Panties helps me understand the weird way that my world deals with ludicrous and hilarious journey that is my life thus far.
9) Where’s Waldo?
I think he’s at Starbucks, reading Jung and looking down on Facebook and Google users for not understanding they should be at Starbucks – or he’s still the book and I haven’t my coffee yet.
10) Which poem was the first to write, though not posted first in the book?
I have phrases that don’t make a full poem, they are just seeds. One of them, “Forgiveness is an Amputation” is a phrase I love. It is something that I have been meditating on for years, and have written poetry and stories around – I submitted to the AWWYP Again Contest using that phrase for inspiration.
It is one of my TLA milestones phrases.
There are so many seedlings like this in my many journals, memo pads. etc. I can’t go back to the first, because it feels like an artesian well and it’s always just pushing up and flowing out. It’s not fun sometimes. And sometimes it’s sublime.