INTERVIEW WITH PATSY ASUNCION
AUTHOR OF: CUT ON THE BIAS
Please give us a short biography of yourself
I am a grown-up sixties chick with biracial, inner-city roots who used school as a ticket out of poverty. I have had a successful career in public education, from teacher to principal. Upon retirement, my grant and program development skills morphed into the writing of poetry and short stories.
I have been featured in numerous national and international anthologies (including Reckless Writing, Healing Muse, Truth About the Fact, Encore) and online journals (e.g., UK’s Female First). My first poetry collection, Cut on the Bias, is scheduled for publication this year by Laughing Fire Press. I have also presented my work at Miami Soiree, Coral Gables’ Actors Playhouse, Rapunzel’s, Richmond’s Tea for Two, and at Bridgewater’s International Poetry Festival.
I also have the opportunity to promote community diversity through open mic and other arts collaborative initiatives.
When did you start writing?
School was my safe place. I excelled in academic writing (e.g., research) in high school and then in professional writing (e.g., grant and program development). A three-year stint “in my youth” as a singer/dancer and songwriter led me to the writing of poetry decades later.
What writers have influenced your work?
Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, Billy Collins, Natasha Trethewey
What are your writing habits?
I spend at least a few hours most mornings creating, revising (ad nauseum), logging, corresponding. I also notebook minutia in the moment as fodder.
What led you to write Cut on the Bias?
I consider my viewpoint and interaction with the world to be biased by my biracial, inner-city, 1960s vantage point, so this collection reflects this slanted eye.
How did you select the themes of the poems in the book?
I started from a personal perspective, then moved to a familial back story, then to world drama.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Poems from the late 90s during my days with the “Dead or Alive Poets,” from the early millennium years with “Group Ten,” and now from my retirement years have been woven together in this collection, a collection that has been the result of a focused effort over the last three years. I was able to stop myself from revising about six months ago!
What challenges did you face in writing this book? What challenges does writing, in general, present for you?
My familial backstory was the most difficult to write because I wanted to be sensitive to my children and other clan members. Some of my more painful musings were not included.
A persistent writing challenge for me is to be able to balance my sociopolitical research with the art of words. Sometimes I get hung up on facts that distance me from the emotional, impactful words that I need to find.
What impact would you like this book to have on readers?
I wish to provide hope, by personal example, to imperfect people in an imperfect world, that individual actions can make a difference.
How do you think you have evolved as a writer during the process of writing this book?
I am now more skilled at nuanced word selection and more alert to possible writing prompts (e.g., conversation, television, varied media).
What are your ambitions with your writing career?
I’m content to follow my interests as a musician, performer, and writer of poetry and short stories. I’m already working on another collection of poems, but I continue to be involved in community projects (e.g., women’s shelter, homelessness, caregivers, an open mic for all artists) that promote diversity.
What books are you currently reading?
I just finished Nan Little’s If I Can Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, Why Can’t I Brush My Teeth and started The Poetry & Short Stories of Dorothy Parker and Richard Eberhart: Selected Poems 1930-1965. My ongoing online reading includes Poem-A-Day, Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, New Verse News, and Split This Rock.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
- Join a critique group for external balance.
- Subscribe to relevant journals like Poets & Writers and online resources like Duotrope.
- Submit, submit, submit despite rejection, rejection, rejection.
- Make daily writing (anything related to writing) a priority.
What are some of your hobbies and passions?
My hobbies include playing piano, accordion (since age of nine on Chicago corners), drums, singing (LOVE da blues and Broadway), and dancing. A new passion is Nia exercise – a mix of Karate, Tai Chi, Yoga and music (from hip-hop to New Age). My ongoing loves include community advocacy for the disadvantaged and my open mic that welcomes all artists of all ages and all skin tones. I’ve had ten-year-olds reading short stories, hip-hop artists to seniors singing Broadway tunes. I love it.
Is there anything else you would like readers to know about yourself or your work?
Make time for your own expression every day.