Tuesday, April 3, 2012

"She's the First" Interviews and Welcomes Tina Chang to the "She's the First" Campaign

"Even though I am a poet laureate, it is still very hard to call myself a poet. I was speaking to these young girls as part of a leadership program and a girl asked me this question, “When did you decide you were a leader?,” and I hadn’t realized I was a leader until that moment. It took a 13-year-old girl to ask me a question in my 40s to realize I was one.

That actual claiming of being a leader and being a poet and being a woman is so important. Once you claim that you will gain so much power.

I have to be honest, I think the poet’s life for many is a struggle. I ask a lot of my poets friends, “What have you sacrificed to be this thing, which is this human, which is a poet, that is a lot different than other lives?” It inhabits your imagination all the time.

For a long time I tried to deny that calling because, in my life, I wanted to fulfill the things my parents wanted of me, and those were always traditional roles. I tried to fit myself, or wedge myself into that role, and it was sort of like ill-fitting clothing that never fit me. It was a matter of trying on lots of different outfits. The poet was never anything I had to fit into. It was just naturally me, myself, walking in the world, sitting down and giving life to my ideas."

To learn more about Tina Chang and She's the First, finish the interview here. If you want copies of Chang's books, including her latest book Of Gods and Strangers (which you do), visit Four Way Books.