Q&A with Patricia A. Saunders
What was most important to you when you decided to become an author?
It was important that my words touch someone; that anyone reading my work would be able to relate to a memory.
What audience are you speaking to through your poetry?
My audience is the woman who has loved and felt that she had to choose between work and life choices. I speak to the person who has lost it all and knows that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
When you talk about your books--and share reflections of your past—some parts are very painful and personal. How challenging was it to reveal the inner aspects of your life?
It was challenging because I talk about being almost homeless, raped, molested, and some baggage that my family didn't want me to share. I prayed that my pain would be a testament to someone that I am still standing after going through it all. I took my family's feelings into consideration and chose not to do some pieces in public settings rather allow readers to read it themselves.
Your mother’s illness, Alzheimer’s disease gave birth to your writing; were she alive today, what do you think she’d say about your poetry?
My Mother and I had a very close relationship. Prior to her illness, we spoke, daily and discussed everything. She used to write all of her sermons in notebooks and I write everything in my journal; she would be proud. She would be able to read the feedback from the readers who laughed, cried and praised alongside me throughout my journey. Also, she would probably say, "Baby keep some things to yourself."
What does poetry fulfill in your life?
Since childhood, I have been writing as a way to express myself. Back then, I hid poetry from my family and only shared it with select teachers for school newspapers, yearbooks and friends. My mother’s passing was heartbreaking and I had to have an outlet. I had to let the words out. It helped me through some dark times. When I decided to commit to it and see writing as my mission, I let go and it just flowed. In the back of my mind I sometimes wonder if I have the same gene as my mother and ask, “will I start forgetting my words?’ My poetry is my mark that I was here!
When did you learn to laugh again?
Following the release of my first book, Through the Fire, I took myself on vacation. While sitting on the beach I let all the tears out. I prayed that I would live each day like it was my last. I got up from that pity party and started my second book, Loving Me. In that very moment, the clouds shifted. I looked in the mirror and said out loud, “Life is too short. Live it!” I had grieved the passing of my Mother for six years, had wanted to die with her; everything had gone wrong or so I thought. I came to myself and realized that she would have wanted me to be happy; suddenly, everything turned around for me. I am laughing a lot these days.
In The Company of Poets with Patricia A. Saunders
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