TanyA White


What is moving you at this moment?

I'm excited by the intersection of art and advocacy. The political climate we're in, the conversations we're having as a nation feel like the precursor for great change, art in every form is the documentation of that change. We shift our thinking and are moved to action by how we feel, not simply by facts, so I'm exploring the power of art to propel us to action.




What is your relationship to poetry? 

Right now, poetry is teaching me how to be explicit and clear--being economical with language while expressing rich and complex ideas.







Can you remember the first words (ie. poem, story, lyric) you fell in love with?

The Paul Laurence Dunbar poem In The Morning. My mother used to recite it to her third grade class. I loved seeing the playful side of my mother. I love her sense of humor.



What do you explore through your writing?

In poetry, I snapshot a moment with language and explore the insight that connects that single moment to a universal experience. In playwrighting I examine human behavior in the context of history, culture and identity. 


Can you describe your current writing process?

I start everyday with a process I call rattlewrite, I sit at my computer while coffee's on the stove and --often with my eyes closed-- I just type without thought or specific narrative. In this way I give myself permission to be exactly who I am in the moment without judgement. Usually I edit work during the day and work on new ideas at night (with wine). 


How would you describe the relationship between poetry and performance?

Poetry needs the human voice. It's essential that a poem exhibit craft and intention on the page but to hear a poem read or recited is to connect to the language in a personal way for both the audience and performer. I use performance as part of the writing process, a way to discover what works and doesn't work, through the exchange with an audience.



Where do your poems come from?

 A visual cue, a conversation, historic/cultural event or big feeling 




What do you think is the most important thing about a poem?

The poem has a point of view and intention.





What is your dream for the world?

A common language, where every nuance of culture is expressed perfectly and we come to know we are all family.




Who would you like to see interviewed on We The Tender Hearted?

Amy Shimshon-Santo. Billy Burgos.


Follow Tanya on Twitter & Instagram: @tanyawla

photographs by Naomi Shon