Mad Woman – An Interview with Kat Savage
Recently I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Poet Kat Savage’s upcoming book of poetry Mad Woman. I reviewed it on my blog Public Whispers (liamxavier.wordpress.com). The book was a selection of well-chosen narrative-driven poems that explored the nature of humanity, the volatility of the world, the beauty of it, the madness of it, but more importantly the importance of learning from it. After reviewing Mad Woman and being left impressed and in awe, I emailed Kat further asking her if she would like to do an interview for this column, graciously she agreed! As you’ll see below Kat has a wisdom and a perspective on life that is invaluable, and more than interesting, so please read below, be inspired and go buy Mad Woman.
Liam Xavier: So first of all, could you just give us a brief introduction? How would you describe yourself and your style to anyone that hasn’t read your work?
There’s no rhyme scheme, nothing formal. I’m not sitting here writing sonnets, though I admire those who can.
Kat Savage: I find it very difficult to talk about myself in this sort of setting, so you’ll have to forgive me as I stumble through. I started writing about two years ago. My husband had just left me and then my sister was murdered. I don’t do well with the sort of conventional treatments, especially medications. I didn’t want anti-depressants or whatever they may have given me. So I started writing, about a co-worker actually. I had an innocent crush and definitely used it as a distraction to get my mind off all of the hurt happening. I had always been told I was good at writing, but I guess you could say two years ago is when I really dug in. I don’t have any sort of formal training in writing. It wasn’t my major in school or anything, but all of my teachers always complimented it. For that, I find my style is definitely what everyone calls freestyle or “underground”. There’s no rhyme scheme, nothing formal. I’m not sitting here writing sonnets, though I admire those who can. I tend to stick to what I know. I know pain, I know heartache, and I know myself. I’m just seeking to let people know they aren’t alone.
LX: Now Mad Woman is your new collection of poetry coming out, but you also have another book to your name, Learning to Speak , which came out last year, as your first collection how did it feel to publish that?
KS: Learning to Speak was near to my heart. IS near to my heart. As my first publication, I wanted it to be my best to date. I wrote it a year ago, and now I dislike a lot of it. I think that’s how I know I’m growing as a writer. I had some upsets with Learning to Speak. It was through a publisher I won’t name and there were many errors made. It sort of broke my heart. I was very excited in the beginning but towards the end of the experience, I was upset. I have intention to re-edit, re-design and re-release the book the way I envision it now. You might see that later this year.
LX: One of the things it’s almost impossible to deny within Mad Woman is that it is full of beautifully presented emotion, do you ever find it difficult to invest so much of yourself to the public?
The days I feel like I’m making a difference far outweigh the difficult ones.
KS: When I first started writing and posting to social media, I had a vision in my mind of what everyone wanted to hear and that’s what I wrote. For about five seconds. It was still me, just only the parts of me I thought they’d want to see. I started gaining momentum and taking risks with what I put out to everyone and they loved it. So that’s what I did. Then I divulged on my account that I have HSV type 2 and convinced myself they might all hate me after that, but they didn’t. I got private message and private message of people thanking me for being so brave and so open about an otherwise shunned topic. I think that’s when it clicked. People call me a public figure, say I have a following, that I have a voice. What better way to use that voice than to talk about the things that we should be talking about but don’t? I have accepted that I will always get criticism and hate. That’s part of the package. But if in giving myself to the people that follow me opens their eyes to something, makes them feel better and less alone, or helps them in some way, that’s what I will continue to do. The days I feel like I’m making a difference far outweigh the difficult ones.
LX: Poetry is emotion, it’s almost the written manifestation of our emotions in some way, but I’m always quite worried that the craft of poetry in general is one that’s become substantially less popular and less appreciated. Why do you think that is, or do you even agree?
KS: I think as times have changed so has the face of poetry. The greats, the classics will always have an impact on young poets. But ask any poet today, and they’re more likely to say Bukowski or Kerouac before they say Frost or Whitman. No, I’m not saying they don’t like those guys. I’m saying they relate to and draw more inspiration from more modern poets. I do think good writing is less appreciated sometimes. In this world of social media and instant gratification, most want short and punchy delivery. I think in general as a whole, attention spans are shorter. I’m not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing, but I like a healthy mix. Give me a long piece of writing for every short piece. I like balance. I try to write a variety of lengths based on topic. I don’t know that poetry has ever been really popular. I think it has always belonged to a selection of people. I don’t think that’s changed. However, I do think social media is making it more popular. You can find quotes and short poems flooded all over your Facebook newsfeed. And I think that’s a great thing in general.
LX: In my review of your book, I mentioned how poetry can sometimes be confused, for example the most prose style forms can be accused of not being poetry at all. But with Mad Woman being such an interesting variety of forms, what is poetry to you?
That’s poetry. Anything that moves you.
KS: I think poetry is a movement. A flow. A feeling provoked by the words written. I think prose are often judged as not being poetic enough which is sad. No, they’re not for everyone. Just like I don’t particularly enjoy a ton of rhyming poetry. The next person may not like something different. That’s the beauty of poetry too. There’s something for everyone. But back to what poetry is. It’s a feeling. I read in a study they found reading poetry stimulated the same part of the brain that is stimulated when a person listens to music. The same part that makes the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The feeling you get when you connect so intensely with words or lyrics of the rhythm of a song that you experience a physical response. That’s poetry. Anything that moves you.
LX: Since I was a young child, I’ve always had a large passion for poetry, and over the years I’ve watched just how much its changed, in delivery and in popularity of form and rhythm, one of the most popular developments seems to be the use of Instagram. How important are these social media/technologies to your poetry?
KS: Well to be honest, it’s sort of where this whole journey started. I was originally only on Tumblr. A fellow writer suggested Instagram to me because they said they were having good luck reaching an audience there. So I did just that. I think it’s an important marketing tool in general. My degree is actually in graphic design and advertising and marketing so I immediately recognized its potential for reaching an audience. The thing is, some people lose focus. Social media should be a marketing tool, but it is very easy to get caught up in how many likes a post gets or how many followers you have. If that’s your priority, then so be it. But it was never mine. I have people reach out and ask how I got 50,000 followers. I never have an answer for this. I didn’t do anything special. I posted what I wanted, never asked for them and never paid for them. That’s how it should be. Social media can be a great tool, but it can also turn into something that consumes you at times. I would advise caution.
LX: Within the poetry community, amongst other poets, poetry bloggers, or writers in general I find we’re quite fortunate in that a lot of its members are rather nice. It seems to be a community full of people that are committed to appreciating and helping, how does it feel to be a part of that?
KS: I agree the vast majority of it feels like a community and I’m very happy to have made the friends I have made. I’ve been very fortunate to meet some of them in person as well. I recently posted about a fellow writer’s dog in need of surgery and a fund to donate to if they wanted to help. The response was overwhelming. So many donations. In addition, I networked and orchestrated many fellow writers donating materials for free to send those who donated a “thank you” to entice more donations. We all pulled together and gave what we could and I love that. There are pockets of negativity and those who mock this “community” outlook as well, but that will always be but the good outweighs the bad here too.
LX: Each poem sort of encompasses this ‘Mad Woman’ that your title refers to, but who is your ‘Mad Woman’ is it you? Your sister? Or something bigger?
A mad woman is anyone who breaks the stereotype, anyone who stands up and bares it all
KS: I am a mad woman. My sister was a mad woman, definitely. But as a whole it’s much bigger than that. As women, we can be made to think sometimes we should only feel certain things, only say things a certain way, or behave a certain way because of our gender. A mad woman is anyone who breaks the stereotype, anyone who stands up and bares it all and says to the world, “This is me, all of me. And I’m strange, and sometimes I’m fucked up, but by god I’m beautiful and there’s no way in hell you’re telling me otherwise.” It’s a state of being where you have embraced all of your truths. When I was writing this, I said on more than one occasion, “Oh my god, people are going to think I’m nuts.” This book’s content is some I was extremely nervous about putting out, but I couldn’t be happier that I did.
LX: As this column is all about inspiration, and innovative things, what is it that inspires you the most?
we’re all the same in what we feel and have felt.
KS: I’m inspired by the human condition. And I think that’s sort of a generic answer but it’s true. Most of all, I’m inspired by my own human condition and how everyone finds it so relatable. That’s one thing I’ve realized. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation you are. We have all experienced the same emotions. We’ve all had our hearts broken and broken hearts. We’ve all lost people we loved, and seek love in life. We are all different in so many ways. But we’re all the same in what we feel and have felt.
LX: Lastly, with each article I write, I find a quote to end the article. I’d like to finish with, if you don’t mind, something suggested by you, so what is your favourite quote? Whether it be your own, or someone elses.
Ovid said, “Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”
I am an avid supporter of taking your pain and making it something else. Write it out, splatter it onto a canvas, share it with someone who may need to hear it. Make it something that hurts less. Make it something more. Let it motivate you to be better. I promise it will. That’s what I did in Learning to Speak. I took all the pain I had been through and wrote it down for all the people hurting to read. That’s important to me. It will always be important to me.
That ends this weeks column and my interview with Kat Savage. I hope you find her equally as inspiring and interesting as I have and look out for her stuff!