FEATURED ARTIST: Su Zi

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Tell me a little about yourself…

 My legal name is actually SuZi , and I have been in Florida for about twenty years now.

How long have you been writing?

Pretty much my whole life.

How’d you get your start, or get discovered?

Discovered? I have not really been discovered. As for my start, well I just always did it, always.

What prompts or inspires you to write?

I am always writing in my head, the issue is getting enough of a block of time—when it’s quiet, I have to have quiet—to get it into some sort of communicateable form.

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Any advice or solution for writer’s block?

Do something else that also involves the same sort of problem –solving: I am a multi-genre person by nature, and have added some different media to my list of stuff to do (I learned to knit, sorta’, crochet, sorta’, etc. and am fascinated), and it’s more in my nature to make up stuff as I go than to follow a pattern. Thus, one is problem solving in the same way as when one is stuck in writing, as when you cook a meal with no recipe and a thin pantry, etc.

Where can we check out and buy your work?

I have one book on Amazon: Pillar of Salt, and a portion of stuff is in my Etsy shop, although not everything, but kinda’ enough to get the gist, me thinks. I have writing available for online viewing via Gypsy Art and also Cosmoetica—this latter will probably require a bit of a site search, I have been writing for him for many years now. Of course, people can send me requests too….There’s a CD of poetry, the disc is on my Etsy site, but there’s download through CD Baby, I think. A lot of work was small press and went out of print, or it was online and vaporized.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/suzi00

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What do you think sets you apart from other writers?

My poor marketing skills and lack of self-aggrandizement. For a while, I was telling the joke that I needed a Colonel for my Elvis, but no one else thought it was funny.

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What do you get out of being a writer? How has it improved your life or been a benefit to you and/or others?

Well, I write in multiple forms: the essays are, by their very nature, didactic—because that’s what essays do as a form, they seek to instruct. People like the poems, and I used to give a lot of poetry performances—actually got paid: I have been onstage with Lydia Lunch, John Sinclair, Andrei Codrescu, oh, lots of people. The stories tend to make people a little itchy; I have been told I challenge people to think too much, that I think too much, or whatever. I also draw, paint, etc.—there’s a line, the only good line, maybe, from Girl, Interrupted: “scribble, scribble”, which I felt was accurate, to an extent, of what I do, how it looks to people. Thus, these things I do, the writing, drawing, etc. are part of who I am—a big part. Socially, there are people who see me as only a horse-person, or only as a tattooed person, and this can be anywhere from annoying to painful.

Writing is a good part of how I view the world. I write senators, agencies about issues that are important to me, usually nonhuman person’s rights and eco-awareness. I dedicate time to social media to keep that voice of being a dedicated eco-aware person in people’s heads. One woman just saw this as “political”. I was a bit stunned at the superficiality of her perception—I am not researching and sharing information about anything other than the beings we call animals and their welfare, or our mother we call the Earth and her welfare. I use my writing to forward those notions.

Sometimes I have written poems about this, essays about this et cetera. Being a writer, or any artist, is a difficult choice because our society does not, has not, welcomed it beyond a few safe token people, yet it is who I am, who we are as writers, as artists, and more important to who we are than whether we have our father’s chin or something. I do not understand why, socially, gender choice and relationship choice are seen as both identity and a subject for discourse, but the sad way we treat artists, writers, creatives is kept as a taboo topic.

What’s the weirdest or most astonishing and controversial work that you have ever written and how so or why?

It has never been my intent to be controversial, but—alas—I find myself being controversial anyway; this is true of both written and visual work. I have been thrown out of establishments for performing a work I thought was lots of fun, but which somehow was controversial. I had a painting once on display in a restaurant which started such a fight between the two owners that the restaurant was closed. I have had work rejected when it was recent, only to find a home for it ten years later—oh, it goes on and on. In my mind, I am being really pretty restrained. Humans are a mystery to me, and why they find work I think is pretty tame to be disturbing or controversial escapes me utterly.

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What do others seem to love about your writing, as far as feedback you have gotten?

For the most part, I have gotten very little feedback. If I do, it is because the subject is pleasing to this or that reader. Most people do not read with much depth, unfortunately, so if it’s a poem about a horse, they see horse and like it, but not much more—rather frustrating, but I am resigned to it. They also like it when it’s posted on social media, and they can get it for free—true, harsh and sad.

What is your advice to fellow writers if any, to encourage them to begin or to keep doing what they do?

Don’t expect to be a rock star, even when you are performing and are being treated as such that evening. The morning will find you, and you must keep on. As for encouragement: too many people wallow in too many fears and it stymies their attempts, or they exist in a realm of competition or jealousy—all a waste of time. It’s really about passion—if one is passionate about something, then if they quit, they become shriveled in their hearts—I have seen a lot of people who quit their art, their piano, their singing et cetera and they are snarky, they don’t have the peace of mind of doing something they love.

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How would you describe your writing style?

It evolves as I do. I do have a penchant for a pun from time to time that probably escapes notice. Once, I wrote a piece and submitted it to the USDF (United States Dressage Federation—an equine organization) adult writing contest. It was a little story from a point of view that was a bit speculative, and I was generous with puns, alliteration, all that—it won that year. One of my then students read the work in his mother’s USDF yearbook and caught what I was trying to do below the surface of the story—but it was a rare and treasured moment.

Do you have any future plans for your writing?

Yes, to keep doing it. I have some MS that really need to maybe go from being files, but I really hate that kind of housekeeping. I don’t know why—it’s emotionally fraught, maybe. It’s a bit like a blind-date—you hope it creates new friendships, but when the person doesn’t see you as being useful to their agenda, well….

Anyway, today, before answering these questions, I wrote and sent a little thousand word (really a bit long for that site) essay to Gypsy Art about grass-roots manners. Remember, the news is ever full of horror, and the event just happened that spurred the essay, so I was writing before I am here now writing. It’s kinda’ hard for me to write about myself, I am a bit too “aw shucks” for my own good. Ours is a society of loud trumpets, and I am more of a soft hum to a horse in the country, than an urban blare of social king-of-the-hill.

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What do you want others to take away from your writing, if anything?

Understanding: Maybe about something they didn’t see before, or maybe an amusement at a turn of phrase, or maybe a sense of a world far from theirs—the usual reason people read literature. I read literature, the classics—there’s plenty of that to keep me busy forever. I don’t tend to read pop lit, unless someone gives me a book and says here read this yah yah. Thus, I do not tend to write in the fragmentary, truncated way that seems to be the misinterpretation of Hemingway’s style and which is so unfortunately ubiquitous. People have gotten flabby in their brains, it seems. Even books I consider to be a romp are treated like hole-digging by people I share them with, or they come to the work with a lot of emotional baggage and can’t see it as an alternative world from theirs. Also, I am kinda nauseated at the number of fix-yourself books people gobble up. So, I am literary—I read it, and, as embarrassing as it is to have to be this blunt, I write it. If people understand this about what I do, then we have, at least, an arena of agreement—whether or not they like or dislike the subject, genre, point of view et cetera.

I also want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss writing. It’s a treat, really. I have pretty much dedicated my life to literature: reading it, writing about it, teaching it, writing, teaching writing et cetera. It’s odd I am a bit nervous about discussing a subject, an act, a commitment which has been the passion of my life since I was a child. I fear these responses are too superficial, too timid, kinda’ dull. There were moments in my life where some very to-the-core events were happening and it was my sense of myself as a writer which was really fundamental to my personal strength. My sense of myself as a writer has also been a double-edged sword in that people who were taking advantage of my small size and gender to foist their violence upon me did not see me as a writer, but I was totally indignant because I always see myself as a writer, I always have, I see no reason to change that perception.

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