A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Cynthia Bryant

Why do you write?

I write when I need to reach outside of my head back into the world. I write when all of the sensory input overwhelms me and needs to empty out into my unique creations. I write when the dreams and emotions wrestle with my past and I need to touch the now and the others.

What books do you read?

I read poetry mostly, some history, genealogy, books on trauma and child abuse. The Courage to Heal is my bible and I will always be thankful to the brave women who wrote it.

What inspires you?

I am very visual so movies inspire me. Art, photography and color inspires me. I also am turned on by music and lovely fragrances. I love the courageous, kindness and telling the truth. Talent in all its forms energizes me. I am revived with the touch of my husband’s hand, the sloppy kisses of our four-footed family members.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer and when?

When I was in my early forties I was diagnosed with P.T.S.D. brought on from childhood abuses. While in therapy I was asked to write down events, emotions, pictures and people as they came to me in dreams and waking. Up until that time I had done only writing required in school. What I discovered in that process saved my life. The first sharing of these memories seemed to come out as poetry, or so I was told. The sharing was like taking part in the Lakota Sun Dance Piercing Ritual, where the the skin is pierced through with a bone tied to a rope and the body’s weight eventually rips the skin open. But once I said the truths out loud I was exhilarated and people would thank me and share their truth. That is when I knew I was a writer and it was important for me as well as others.

How do you deal with rejection?

I guess in some ways I experienced this early when some folks did not like the topics of my poems and suggested writing about flowers or happy subjects. Some rejection is harder than others and may be the reason that I have not bothered sending my work out as much as I could.

I prefer hearing why something is rejected rather than a generic, ‘we are sorry to say…’ bullshit.

Who are some of the writers you admire?

I began my poetry journey with Langston Hughes and admired the clear cut simple words that conveyed so much emotion. I admire him being who he was: black, homosexual in the beginning of the twentieth Century in America. I also love Sharon Olds, Naomi Shihab Nye, David Whyte. I really prefer reading anthologies to hear many voices.

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

I love to make jewelry from beads, shells and bones. I love to draw, doodle and dream of painting. I used to play piano and practice ballet as a child. I am an artist want-to-be.

What would be some advice you would give to your younger self?

Love yourself and follow your bliss!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read and write daily. Only accept critiques from people you respect and then only if it feels right. You are the best and last judge of your work. If you love it, and it makes you happy, go for it.

What is your writing process?

Sometimes I begin with a title, sometimes a line. On several occasions I began with a character who persisted until I wrote down their story. I am sometimes disciplined and write every morning, rewrite in the afternoon. But mostly I need to be jolted awake by an emotion, a need to let something go onto the page. Putting my work out there is even less regulated, but spontaneous. I most enjoy standing in front of lovers of poetry and the huge exchange of energy sharing my poetry.

Cynthia Bryant gathers fruit for her poems from many trees.  Her poetry ranges from world news, to poignant pieces closer to her heart; love, family, incest and injustice.  Cynthia has been invited to read her poetry throughout California in diverse venues including coffee shops, fairs, art galleries, schools, battered women's shelters, and a federal prison.  First published in 1997 by two important journals dealing with childhood sexual abuse, Cynthia has since been published in over 30 anthologies.  Her books Sojourn, Pebbles In The Shoes, and No Time To Shoot The Poets were accepted into the Ina Coolbrith circle library section in Sacramento's State Library's Special Collections Reading Room.  Cynthia served  as the 4th and 7th Poet Laureate for the city of Pleasanton, CA.  She currently resides in Salinas, CA with her husband and her two Boston Terriers where she maintains the website www.poetslane.net for poets and poetry lovers.

Cynthia Bryant gathers fruit for her poems from many trees. Her poetry ranges from world news, to poignant pieces closer to her heart; love, family, incest and injustice. Cynthia has been invited to read her poetry throughout California in diverse venues including coffee shops, fairs, art galleries, schools, battered women’s shelters, and a federal prison. First published in 1997 by two important journals dealing with childhood sexual abuse, Cynthia has since been published in over 30 anthologies. Her books Sojourn, Pebbles In The Shoes, and No Time To Shoot The Poets were accepted into the Ina Coolbrith circle library section in Sacramento’s State Library’s Special Collections Reading Room. Cynthia served as the 4th and 7th Poet Laureate for the city of Pleasanton, CA. She currently resides in Salinas, CA with her husband and her two Boston Terriers where she maintains the website http://www.poetslane.net for poets and poetry lovers.

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