Introducing Sonia, Cleveland based writer and poet.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
"My name is Sonia. I’m 26. I live in Cleveland, Ohio. I studied British literature of the long 18th century in school, especially novels written by women. I wrote my master’s thesis about eroticism in Jane Eyre because I had a lot of—thoughts and feelings on that topic. At some point, I realised I had things to say that wouldn’t fit into the shape of literary analysis, and I’ve been seriously writing my own poetry and fiction since then."
How long have you been writing/composing poetry for?
"I started in high school. I took a poetry class my senior year that helped me to recognise writing poetry as a kind of freedom. Poems have their own logic, and that logic relies on sound and association to create meaning. It offers all sorts of possibilities that aren’t available in narrative or argument. Everyone has tried to express themselves at some point in private about loving someone or being miserable and thought, wow, now that I’ve put that into words, it’s horrible, it’s mundane, it has nothing to do with me. That’s usually the end of that because it’s painful to hear your feelings read back to you in the wrong language. For me, poetry is a language that gets me closer to what I mean."
Every artist/maker has their own unique creative ritual, so what’s yours?
"I’ve noticed that when writing is going well, I lose track of time. So I try to make that feeling happen artificially. I have a special playlist of songs that I can play on repeat without noticing when they start over. I pick one, and after three or four loops, I usually reach a dreamy state where writing feels more possible. I think it tricks my brain into a space of timelessness. Also tea—I drink a lot of hot tea."
For Issue Three ‘Home', you have written a piece called Ohio. Could you tell us more about the piece and what inspired you to write it?
"Ohio is what’s called a “swing state", which means that our electoral votes don’t necessarily go to one party or another. They change from election to election—sometimes Democrat, sometimes Republican. Ohio is a particularly remarkable swing state because it has accurately predicted the president in 28 of the last 30 elections. As Ohio votes, so votes the nation. This happens because the state has a similar political composition to the country as a whole. A lot of people with different opinions live here, though not necessarily next door. We have three big cities (Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati), which lean quite liberal, and then things get more conservative as you move away from the metropolitan centres. Growing up, your home is just your home by default, but now I am choosing to live in Cleveland, and I’ve been thinking more about what it means to be Midwestern and from Ohio in particular. I don’t usually write political poetry, but I was just in a mood about Ohio that day, and this poem was my way of thinking things through."
Any big creative/life plans for the next few months?
"My plans are to keep writing."
As a writer, do you have an opinion on digital v.s print media?
"My opinion on new versus old is always both."
What would be your creative New Year’s resolution be for 2020?
"Some good advice that I got recently is that it’s hard to learn from something you haven’t finished. Writing doesn’t actually fail until it’s finished, and you have to fail in order to understand how to improve. My goal for the next year is to force myself to finish things, so that I can share them with people, but also so that they can fail and be bad and make me miserable, and then I can get better."
You can follow Sonia's work via the following links: