TWD Magazine 4th Collection Interview: Tanya Holtland — Photography Contributor

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As an extension of The Black Lion Journal’s mission, The Wire’s Dream is a semi-annual magazine that values community, life perspectives, and different worldviews. Contributors were asked to complete a set of mini interview questions with the purpose of sharing with the readers and their fellow submitters a bit about who they are and about their creativity. All questions were the same for each contributor; and each answer given is unique, open, friendly, and candid.

About The Creative Process

What does creativity mean to you? And what does it mean to be creative?
I think creativity can be a lot of things. For me it has often meant healing and at times survival. A way out of something and towards something else. A way to seek, to understand and translate an environment that can press on the most sensitive parts of us. Creativity can be innate but I think art, having time and the resources to engage on a path of creativity, is a luxury. I feel pretty grateful to have had opportunities for this exploration.

How do you make time for your creativity? Are you an early bird creative or a night owl? Or something in between?
I am definitely an early riser. Morning is my favorite kind of quiet. I love the middle of the night but my body and most of my work life resent being awake for it for too long.

How much of your personal life and experiences shape who you are as a creative and as a person? Do you find that you draw much content from your experiences or have you worked to keep that separate from what you create?
I don’t recall being outwardly creative as a child, but I suspect my creative energy was being subsumed by other basic needs. I think creativity, not just expression but a creativity that heals, emerges in and from darkness. When I was in my early twenties and ready to heal, poetry arrived. I have spent more than a decade now seeing my experiences through writing, seeing them transform through writing. I think it is possible for art to not only change the future but also the past. The richness of creative healing can suspend linearity. Probably for this I keep the personal and the creative very close to each other.

About Creative Moments & Inspiration

What is your most memorable creative moment, if any?
There have been times where I have written things that felt beautiful and expansive and they seemed to come out with little coaxing and little editing and that was a blissful feeling. Is that creative? Did I do that or did I just make space for that? Every time I write something intentionally without the critic is a future memorable moment I’m calling in right now.

Do you cross genres for inspiration? Which ones?
Ex: If you're a fiction writer, do you read and practice poetry? Do you also dabble in art?

Formally I am a prose poet, but I do some of my best writing after a day at a museum. I think it is possible to translate poems into images and vice versa, and I think much of my creative work has been about trying to establish that there is a whole language inherent in that translation. Photography has been with me longer than poetry and was for many years a secret journal I kept to myself. I also love to play piano although, without formal training, it has been a limited endeavor. But when I sit down to play piano or stand in front of a Cy Twombly, the parts of me that become activated are not dissimilar from the way I experience poetry.

What/who inspires you the most?
Travel. The idea that the world truly is getting smaller and we are, as bodies, as love, able to expand in so many places. My partner, Hailey.

Are there any contemporary writers/artists that you admire and think should be on everyone’s radar?
(Who do you think has been undervalued?)

I was recently introduced to the work of Aisha Sabatini Sloan and her essays are brilliant and so important. Comedy also an art that heals, anyone reading this in the greater LA area should go hear the comedian Danielle Perez. Both of these LA natives are making my hometown shine.

Tips For Others, Personal Goals

What tips would you give to those who have never published anything before?
Like anything else, if it is worthy of putting your time into it, keep going until it is birthed. There is no such thing as too late. Remember a future you wish for and work backwards from there.

What goals and/or aspirations do have for your creativity? Where would you like to see your work?
At a certain point I think creativity’s natural progression is a movement in scale, a movement from the sphere of the personal to universal. All the more if it has the capacity to heal. I expect creativity will come to mean very new and different things in addition to what it has been in the past. Mostly I’d like to be a better listener. Creative and otherwise.

— TWD MAGAZINE 4th COLLECTION—

About Tanya

Tanya Holtland is author of the chapbook Inner River (Drop Leaf Press, 2016). A finalist for the editors’ prize in poetry at MARY: A Journal of New Writing, her poetry and nonfiction also appear in The Collagist, Statement Magazine, OXALIS, and elsewhere. She holds creative writing degrees from San Francisco State University. Recently artist-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, her libretto FATED, a collaboration with composer Daniela Candillari, premiered there in winter of 2017. This is her first photography publication.

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