Photo by Adrianna Calvo
Each time I do an interview it reaffirms a very important thing; there’s so much talent out there that one cannot close its eyes and not be inspired. I have the pleasure of interviewing Vicki Gabow – writer, painter, poet, a wonderful woman that speaks in volumes with her creativity, contagious smile, and unique personality that’s shows even in her writing. I hope you guys take the time to learn about her creative process, read her work, and become a fan of her like myself.
Tell us, who is Vicki Gabow?
I guess at heart I consider myself a creative; I tend to dabble in many different art forms and often feel pulled in various directions with my creative endeavors. Some days I write poetry, or paint, and other days I crochet or work on mixed media pieces. I lean in the direction that most satisfies my soul on any given day. I believe in trying to make the world a kinder, gentler place, and I hope that my existence contributes to that ideal. Lest you think I take myself too seriously, my sense of humor is some mixture of self-deprecation, mild sarcasm, and immaturity and my favorite breakfast cereal is still Lucky Charms.2.
Writer, Vicki Gabow
When did your first start writing?
The first time I remember being vaguely interested in writing was in first grade; we had writing workshop days where we went to a room filled with typewriters (I know, shows my age a bit) connected to the library where we could draft and type up our own stories. I remember always being excited for those days. However, it wasn’t until I was in sixth grade that I found a voice through writing poetry. My teacher, Mrs. Cohen, encouraged me and gave me positive feedback. I realized that I could express myself through words and as a preteen that was a really powerful discovery.
What are the most constant topics in your writing? Do you write anything else besides poetry?
I write about what I feel and see; my everyday experiences and the people I come into contact with are my biggest inspirations. I write about nature, relationships, creativity, and as an outlet for the emotions that overwhelm me.
I also write personal essays and creative non-fiction pieces from time to time, but I feel most at home in poetry. It holds an old jeans and a T-shirt type of comfort for me that I don’t find in other genres of writing.
Who are your favorite writers?
I’d have to say I greatly admire and enjoy reading works by Neil Gaiman, Christopher Moore, Robert Okaji, Shane Koyczan, Heather Barnes, David Sedaris, Lois Lowery, Beverly Cleary, D. Watkins, Bill Willingham, and Garth Ennis. My bookshelves are fairly eclectic.
How do you begin a poem? What inspires you to write?
What inspires me to write? Being alive. My writing focuses on my interactions with my environment, so my poems usually start out with some experience depositing a seed in my mind. It rarely ever starts out with me just sitting down and saying to myself, “Okay, let’s write a poem now.” Usually, I find myself rushing to grab a pen and paper, my laptop, my phone, a piece of junk mail, or even a napkin; I only have a limited time to plant that seed in firm soil before it dissipates into the ether, I will write on almost anything. Like many people, I think my best ideas form while I’m doing some mundane task.
How would you define your writing style?
Free verse is my preferred poetic form. I love playing with imagery, symbolism, and sound devices, and I hate end rhyme. Does that constitute a style?
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems? What is poetry for you at this present time?
I think my perception of poetry has changed over time. In the beginning, I figured it was just about flowery language, an overabundance of adjectives, and end rhyme. Thankfully, I progressed beyond that stage. As I got older, poetry evolved into a means of self-reflection; as a result, I very rarely shared my writing with anyone. Now, I also see it as a powerful tool for communication and connection with my fellow human beings who might take comfort in knowing they’re not alone. Overall I have a greater appreciation for the power of words. If you think about it, my concept of poetry has evolved to accommodate my changing needs at each stage of my life.
What obstacles have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?
I’ve been my own worst enemy. My fears have held me back so many times; self-doubt can be paralyzing. It has taken me a long time to acknowledge myself as a writer. I’ve been writing for years, but up until this past year, my husband didn’t even know I wrote. I hid it like a dirty little secret. I still struggle sometimes to believe in myself and my abilities, but I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic support network of friends and family.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
Writing can be an isolating pursuit; I’d encourage anyone who wants to write to seek out other creatives and work to support each other, and I’m not just talking about other writers. It can open up so many new possibilities. Immersing myself in culture and my local writing community has helped inspire my writing. Also, don’t be afraid to share your work. Go ahead and submit your writing; yes, you’ll get rejections, but that’s okay. Sometimes you’ll also get feedback or acceptance.
What are your current or future projects?
I’ve been working on a chapbook, and I’m hoping to see that published in the next few months. Also, Because of a Word, a collaborative poetry collection that includes two of my poems is now available in print and e-book format on Amazon. As far as future projects, I’ll be opening an Etsy shop this summer where I’ll be working towards my goal of combining my love of poetry and mixed media art to create some unique original pieces; I’m excited to see where this concept leads.
Vicki, where can we find more of your work?