We had the good fortune of connecting with Tanya Markul and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tanya, how do you think about risk?
I started writing poetry when I was six-years old. I’d layer squiggly line on top of line and call it a poem. I was enchanted by Dr. Seuss, nursery rhymes, and even good ‘ol Hallmark cards. But I stopped writing when I lost the man who was my father just before I turned 10 years old — and was woken up to the harsh reality and trauma that had been happening all around me. Not allowing myself to create was like my first step towards self-sabotage and punishing myself for all that felt bad in my childhood. I kept writing, but kept it secret. I’d journal my heart out, then burn my notebook or throw away the pages so that no one could read my uncensored feelings and deepest thoughts. Ok, so where am I going with this? I want to acknowledge the feelings of shame, imposter syndrome, and the overall fear of being exposed by our writing. Because this was a huge part of me that I had to face when publishing my first collection. But I knew I had to do it — I wanted to do it — in order to break free from the spell of self-disbelief AND to break the seal on my own creative expression, so that I could heal and move on. Putting my work into a collection truly felt like I had given so many traumatic & triumphant experiences a place to live (on pages) so that it no longer had to take up space in my body. Self-publishing my first book was scary. But not as frightening as I thought it would be. It was a tremendous release and relief. The hardest part was facing the fact that my writing wasn’t conventional or easy or the “status quo” but that it was ME. I was able to grow beyond the doubt and destruction to see myself in a way that I had not attempted to before….someone with a voice, a story, and the ability to change and maybe inspire others along the way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I write poetry, prose, and tell stories. I’m not sure that I aim to set myself apart from others more than I try to understand what magnetises me towards certain groups and individuals. I’m super excited about writing my next boo (that I’m aiming to have ready this year). How did I get here professionally? Well, it’s taken a lifetime of wanting to discover who I am beyond the conditioning, pain, and trauma, and acting upon the personal lure to put it on paper. It has not been an easy path at all. But it is one that feels closest to my heart. How did I overcome the challenges? By putting my attention on the daily rituals, thoughts, and ways of living that bring me relief, inspiration, and companionship. I learned to be self-destructive at a very early age, so I have to really watch those habits and how I talk to myself. The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that I’m not powerless — that I have a voice and a story, and that I’m worthy of both. I guess I want the world to know that hardship is not synonymous with hopelessness, that we can change and that, if we want to, make a difference while we’re here.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, so I’d take them to all the touristy type stuff, which can be really fun — Tivoli Gardens, The Little Mermaid, we could rent a row boat at Christianshavn, eat outside near the beautiful harbour at Nyhavn, walk through the *free* community at Christiania, check out the art exhibits at The National Gallery of Denmark, get a coffee then walk through the Botanical Gardens, there’s so much!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shout out to all the woman around the world helping to create equality and healthy, positive change for themselves and for all lifeforms on our planet. And, of course, I have to recognise all the revolutionary writers, artists, and poets that came before me.