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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Author Interview: Sabne Raznik: Poet, Writer and Member of Academy of American Poets

 
A poet by heart, a freelancer writer and a book reviewer - that is what revolves around Sabne Raznik. She is a member of Academy of American Poets, and also member of the Kentucky State Poetry Society. She is a known international author and her work has been published in the United States, United Kingdom, Scotland and Ireland. 

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood
 
I don't like to look back much. I'm always in the present and looking forward to the future. Through no fault of my loving family, my childhood wasn't a happy time. It had its high moments, of course, but it's not a place I visit often if I can help it.

About your education?
 
It's nothing to brag about. I started school at Elkhorn City Elementary, attended Phelps High School for a bit (both in Kentucky, U.S.A.), but then I decided to go a less traditional route and finished high school through American School which offered correspondence courses. When I completed it, I went for the testing offered for a G.E.D. (General Education Diploma). After that, I'm pretty much an autodidact. I learn things wherever I can pick them up. Really, I have an insatiable appetite for learning. I have taken advantage of certain websites which offer "open" university courses for free (and for which one seldom receives credit or any kind of papers), like Yale Open Courses and Coursera.org.

What career did you plan during your education days?
 
My first desire was to be a professional dancer, but chronic health issues made that impossible. Then I thought I might sing - music is my first love - but I have weak lungs and didn't have the voice for the power notes. So, by the time I started school, I knew I would be a writer of some sort, more physical forms of work also being out of the question. I considered taking some business courses to prepare for secretarial work, but that idea went south when I discovered I had poor dexterity for typing (at the time there was a word-per-minute requirement for such jobs). At one time I considered journalism and I do write that sort of thing once in a while. Eventually, I settled on being a poet. It wasn't until the month before my debut collection was published that I branched out into book reviewing and other forms of writing.

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?
 
Being outside among nature and the frantic busy-ness of people, music, the study of languages and cultures, and the people I love. Emotion is everything in poetry.

What hurts you most in this world?
 
I know this seems like a vague, general sort of answer, but it would have to be injustice. Man's inhumanity to man and poor sense of responsibility regarding the stewardship of the earth and its creatures that God entrusted to mankind. Why is it that we are told that childhood cancer is rare (a bold-faced lie) and that it receives almost no funding for research despite the fact that treatments for children also benefit adults but not vice-versa? Why are genetically modified products placed in our food (without labels, thus our freedom of choice regarding what we eat is taken away) despite the fact that it is known to cause cancer, obesity, and other illnesses and to pollute the environment almost beyond repair? Why is Mountaintop Removal allowed? Why are stereotypes and prejudice perpetuated when they are the worst lies of all and cause the most damage throughout the world? Why is there war when no one wants it? Why does a shirt cost $100 and some watches sell for $500 when people are starving to death? Sometimes, I wonder about the state of some people's consciences- or rather their apparent lack of conscience. All of the problems that face mankind today are entirely man made.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced? Were you able to overcome it? How?
 
Myself. We all have this defeatist voice in our head that tell us lies. "You can't do that! Who do you think you are? Nobody wants to read that." That kind of thing. I take pleasure in proving that evil voice wrong.

If you had to live a day of your life as one of the living or dead personality, who would it be and why?
 
This question gave me the most pause. I'd love to have Bono's energy and platform for putting ideas into tangible form. Ultimately, however, my answer would have to be no one. Everyone has their own challenges and issues. No one's life is any more charmed or easier or more relevant than anyone else's. Even the janitor of your school has a purpose and place in the fabric of life. I think the best thing any person can do is to live their life as themselves and make it the most beneficial life they can. Wholly theirs, wholly their own. You are the only person who can make your unique contributions. No matter how large or insignificant those contributions may seem, they are yours alone and they are vital to every living thing.

What is your favorite genre and why?
 
Poetry, because it aims for the heart rather than the mind. Behind that, I like non-fiction best. I do read fiction, but I tend to be very choosy with it.

What is the purpose of your writing?
 
To break stereotypes and build understanding between peoples. Our differences - as perceived - make life fun and interesting as long as we are willing to engage them and learn from each other. Ultimately, we all have more or less the same emotional interior. Having someone read my work and say: "Yes, that's what I have felt!" and find understanding and maybe even a measure of healing from it, that would fulfill me.

Which of your work published so far?
 
As for individual poems, I'm afraid I haven't kept up with that well over the years. But I have one collection called "Following Hope". And there are multiple other writings out there on Yahoo Voices and other sites. I guest blog sometimes. One of my articles was published in the local newspaper "Appalachian News-Express" a few years ago. Most of my work has been published in either Kentucky journals, online, or in other countries.

What are your forthcoming writings?
 
I have a manuscript ready that I hope will be my second collection called "Linger To Look." It draws on the history and languages of the Middle East as inspiration a bit. Also, I'm working on an interview for Yahoo Voices with a fellow Appalachian poet from my hometown, Jake Artemus Anderson. He has a blog and Facebook called "The Appalachian Advocate". And I'm working on another book review at present. My latest poems seem to be drawing from a slightly more urban place than my past work and from the life of Van Gogh - he was such a tortured soul but with a very beautiful artistic vision - as well as the loss of my most beloved nephew to Leukemia and his extraordinary battle. It's hard to tell at this point just how all those disparate inspirations will intertwine as the work develops. I'm excited to find out.

What are your future plans?
 
I think I got into that some with the last question. Oops! I would like to take a class in songwriting, I think, just to bring a fresh perspective into the poetry. Also, gaining a little more experience on the reading/speaking circuit would probably be a good idea, if my health will permit the travelling that requires. I'd like to get involved in a writer's group or a bunch of local poets who are on the same wave-length, to organize events with, and open up more opportunities for artists of all kinds in this part of Appalachia. But it seems to me that John Lennon was correct when he said, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans", so who knows what life has waiting!

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?
 
The strength of the writing is first and foremost, of course. Are the poems reasonably satisfactory in and of themselves? Do they fit well in the manuscript as a whole? Am I stretching myself in them or are they stagnant? I also look for a uniting theme (though it could be loose) in the book as a whole. The artwork is important. I like to keep a measure of control over that myself. Does it speak to the written work and the written work to it? I'm also rather perfectionist about proofreading and formatting. I think every aspect of a book is part of the work of art as a whole, so I like to be very involved in the entire process from writing first drafts to completed publication. Availability is also important. My driving notion is that if I don't like the finished product, how can I expect anyone else to? It's that simple, really.