Interview with Sasha Smith
Sasha Smith is a student at the University of Houston-Downtown, majoring in English-Creative Writing. She has been writing since elementary school about topics ranging from love, loss, to racial injustices. She is an aspiring poet and hopes to one day write a best-selling poetry collection. Sasha's poem's "Sinned Skin" and "Divinely Feminine" can be found in the 2022 Spring Edition of The Bayou Review. Sasha was interviewed by Gisele Phalo. You can follow Sasha Smith on Instagram @sx.asha
You are a sophomore at UH-D, go Gators! Describe your experience in the Creative Writing program so far.
My experience with the Creative Writing Program here at UH-D has been great thus far because of the efforts from Professors like Dr. Paul Kintzele and Dr. Tammis Thomas. I am super grateful I get to experience their teaching and this program as a whole.
I've gotten to learn from amazing poets,-and published authors, fine-tuning my skills and my voice.
Dr. Robin Davidson, and Dr. Claudia Smith have been phenomenal in pushing my boundaries and knowledge as a writer, but also believe in the work I produce.
What other genres do you write other than poetry? Who would you consider to be your inspiration?
Though I stick to poetry most of the time, I have dabbled in the art of short stories, as well as fiction. The writing process for certain pieces help me hone my craft. As an aspiring poet, I consider Rupi Kuar as one of my biggest influences. She convinced me that I and other women of color can be a poet too.
According to your biography, you write about themes ranging from love, loss, and racial injustices. Can you elaborate on your writing process?
Oh this is a great question. My writing process is very sporadic, there isn’t a set day or time I set aside to write, though there definitely should be. My writing is either at the forefront of my mind, and the words spill out on the page, or I have to hammer at them. If the words are pouring out of me, whether it be on paper or keyboard, I become super immersed in the piece and won’t stop until it is perfected. Sometimes this can take anywhere from five minutes to eight hours, which includes me not moving from that spot for food, water, etc. until the poem is finished. For inspiration, I like to outline the topic I want to talk about first, so I can visualize the poem from start to finish. However, if I already have a line I really want to use, I will write it down, and write the poem in reverse, I prefer personal or familiar topics in order to better understand human consciousness.
What inspired you to write your poems “Sinned Skin” and “Divinely Feminine” that will be included in this year’s issue of The Bayou Review?
I really wanted the chance to see the plausibility of myself getting published. When I was a first-year in Honors Program the former director, Dr. Nicholson, and then-junior, Marvin Deaver swayed me to submit, but I was very hesitant, thinking I wasn’t good enough. This time, I wanted to prove myself wrong, but also it was a personal goal of mine to push myself outside of my boundaries. When I saw the work I produced, I was so mesmerized with what I came up with that I felt if I didn’t share it, I would regret it. I felt like someone needed to hear what I had to say, even if it was just one person, I wanted someone to feel heard. The poems I produced are every part of what it means to have roots to me. In my roots, I am a Black woman and that fact is forever unchanging. To be both of these things isn’t always easy but it is rewarding and I wanted to talk about my process through coping with both, in a world like the one we live in.
What advice do you have for other emerging writers who aspire to submit their work to The Bayou Review?
Do it. You miss 100% of chances that you do not take. Please do not be discouraged and remember that your thoughts matter.
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