As part of our series interviewing writers, authors and poets in AWwYP, 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, while 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. 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?
Was it worth it?
5) Which poem was the first to write, though not posted first in the book?
I have phrases that, at the time, didn’t make a full poem. I appreciate treating them with the care I’d give to plant seeds.
“Forgiveness is an Amputation” is a phrase I love. It is one of my TLA milestones phrases.
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. There are so many seedlings like this in my 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.
6) In some of your poetry, you convey self-worth and empowerment. Where does that empowerment come from?
I tell many people, “God loves Him some Tiffany.” 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 even now. That love, intention, and support help me go after the things I need to grow my world. Knowing I am loved 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 one of your characters 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’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 in the best ways. But in various times and seasons of my life, I am starting to see there is a cyclical nature to my output. It sounds like an excuse though. I admit, 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. And I’m always putting down poetry and notes in my gajillion journals hidden all over my life.
8) How did you get the TLA title?
Transformative Language Arts is the study of the use of spoken, written, sung or embodied word-art to facilitate social change. In 2010, I started attending Goddard College for my Master’s Degree with a concentration in Transformative Language Arts (TLA). 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. As my consistent 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. My book, Ugly Drawers, Pretty Panties, helps me understand the weird way my world deals with the ludicrous, hilarious journey that is my life thus far.
9) 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 authors have written things that freed me, and I’m hopeful that the words on my pages can unlock something for others—fun, laughs, healing, heartbreak, silliness, coffee sipping imagery.
10) Where’s Waldo?
I think he’s at a coffee shop, reading Jung and looking down on social media users…perhaps he’s off having caffeinated adventures with Carmen San Diego (and just where in the world is she?).
That, or he’s still the book and I haven’t my coffee yet.