A Ten Question Interview With The Artist…Amber Decker

Why do you write?

To heal, mostly. Writing allows me to be vulnerable and open in a way that I’m not in my day to day life. Sometimes I have problems expressing myself verbally. Writing fills in the blanks and lets me say what I need to say without being precious or overly fearful. It’s also my way of processing. I think that’s what all art is, really…a response to the world and how we all see things differently.

What books do you read?

I love to collect and read poetry books. My bathroom shelf is filled with them. I seriously have a problem. And I’m not a fan of any one particular style; my tastes are all over the place. When I’m in the mood for something meatier, I love sci-fi and fantasy fiction. I’ll read anything by Charles de Lint. Also, I seem to have a thing for rocker biographies. Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain totally wrecked me.

What inspires you?

Love, as corny as it sounds. To me, every art form at its source is about connection or the desire for connection. I write best when I’m falling in love or I’m heartbroken. Not all of my work reflects that, but I feel like I’m able to live more fully in my skin at those times and can experience emotions at a deeper level, like all my senses are heightened and on high alert. It can make you crazy, but it can be a beautiful thing, too.

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

I’ve written since I can remember. As a kid, I loved telling stories. In middle school, I was obsessed with Dungeons & Dragons and high fantasy. In high school, I discovered poetry, and it just felt like I had found something truly magical. I started exploring, and at seventeen I came across the Bukowski reader, Run With the Hunted. His work showed me that poetry didn’t have to be “stuffy.” That was kind of a big deal to me.

How do you deal with rejection?

As far as rejection in the writing world, it doesn’t bother me. There are always plenty of opportunities. Editors, agents, and readers are all different people with varying tastes and sensibilities. It’s all subjective. So, I just shrug it off. I’ve been publishing work since I was eighteen, and I can’t remember a time when rejection has ever really phased me, to be honest.

Who are some writers you admire?

Bukowski, obviously. He definitely does it for me, same as he does it for lots of other writers, I guess. There’s just something very pure and American about his voice and the way he conveyed his experiences. No bullshit. I’m a big fan of no bullshit.

There are so many people whose work has affected me in a profound way. I’ve always loved Sylvia Plath. I almost felt like we shared some sort of spiritual kinship, because my father also died when I was young, and I’ve felt the ripple effects of that throughout my life in the same way she did.

I’m from West Virginia, so I have mention Kirk Judd, who is not only a masterful poet, storyteller, and spoken word artist, but I am lucky to call him my friend as well. Watching him perform is always inspiring. Seriously, he’s amazing and his work should be sought out, and often!

Is writing the only artistic medium you do?

It’s not. I love music, and I’ve been surrounded by it since I was little. I was in the school band and played the clarinet until 8th grade, and in high school I started playing the guitar (badly, because I have stupid, short fingers), and piano (which I don’t suck at). My first year of college, I took drum lessons and have continued on with that. Music has helped me to write better and to appreciate rhythm in the art of spoken word. Music and poetry are my babies. I couldn’t imagine ever doing anything else.

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

Simple. Don’t be so serious. And even if you don’t feel like going out, go anyway. Amazing shit will happen, and I promise you will always come home with a story. Not everything is going to be a disaster.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

I don’t really believe in advice for writers. There’s no right or wrong way. If you want (or need) to write, you’ll do it. If you don’t, you’ll find something else. But I suppose the only thing I can say with conviction is to not attempt to shape your writing for a particular market or to write with publication as the ultimate goal. Write for yourself. That way, you have a better chance of not being full of your own shit and not sounding like a total asshole. I know some assholes. Don’t be those people.

What is your writing process?

I daydream in the car, in the shower, at work, at the gym. Then I come home and sit down at the computer and start typing. There’s no magic formula for me, no real ritual, no voodoo dolls or anything. I just show up. And sometimes, cool stuff happens.


Amber Decker is a thirty-something poet and musician from West Virginia. She is a lover of comic books, horror culture, good wine, tattoos, and rock and roll. Her latest collection of poems, The Girl Who Left You, is available from California’s notorious Six Ft. Swells Press.


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