Kathryn V. White came to Washington many years ago during a cross-country bicycle trip, and knew she wanted to return to Seattle. She eventually got her masters at the UW. After taking an intensive writing workshop years ago, White found she had a lot to say about women and the issues they face. More than 15 years after that workshop, she self-published her book, “Rumble Tumble Joy.” Above all, she wanted women to connect to what she was saying about her own life through poetry and prose.
Q: What do you want people to get out of the book?
A: Well, in terms of the issues I touch upon, these are issues that it’s still very difficult to talk about. So thank God people like Oprah are in the world, who have broken open the door, in terms of some of the issues. But the increases in plastic surgery, people going for it, you have teenagers going for plastic surgery. ... You have anorexia, you have bulimia, none of this stuff is going away, none of this going to resolve. There’s a better understanding to it, but there’s still a lot of people who are afraid to talk about it. And so my intention is that, because the pieces are short as well, people can pick it up, maybe a mother and a daughter … maybe university classes, women’s studies for examples, could utilize it … to open up this still very vulnerable terrain to talk about, and all its complexities and nuances. That’s really my intent, is that it offers a pathway for discussion and healing. One man said he wishes he had read this book when his daughter was a teenager, because it gave him a better understanding of some of the issues women are struggling with.
Q: You do focus a lot on your relationship to your body, and body acceptance. Why do you think there are so many women who have such deeply entrenched issues with their body?
A: Well, it’s pervasive in the media. I mean, you look at movies, and a lot of the women there are practically skin and bones. And you see that image over and over again, across the board. It impacts you, it imprints you. So we have this thing, with social media, with our movies, the visual component impacts us greatly. And then we still have this view that we need to be a certain weight, and have a certain look to be successful or be accepted or be loved. And if anything it’s gotten worse because we’re bombarded by content constantly.
I remember when I was in high school and I would read some of these magazines like ELLE and Cosmopolitan and I felt really bad about my body afterwards. I was probably one of the lucky ones to make the connection that, “Oh, this is happening pretty soon after I’m reading Glamour, and maybe if I don’t spend as much time with that, I won’t be harping on it with myself.” Now, my issues did not go away, but because I had that ability to think about it, it helped me be a bit more objective, so that as time went on I could do something, where I could go more deeply into these issues, and write about them, and share. As artists, that’s one of the most important things we can do with our art is share our own experiences and how we’ve moved through it, so that other people get a helping hand to also walk through their problems and their issues.
Q: Do you have any positive words for people who might be afraid of poetry?
A: As a society, we’ve kind of dropped out of poetry as something people can read, or enjoy, or memorize and just speak. In some ways, I would say, for those who are afraid of it, pick up a book that is shorter. It’s not as overwhelming, and take it in small doses. Just read one piece and reflect on it, and don’t feel like, “Oh, I have to read all the pieces in this book, one after another, and I won’t get anything out of it.” You can have so much packed in just a few sentences. … I think it’s getting to that place, away from the distractions, where you can just sit and read it aloud to yourself. Or if you’re a person who likes to listen, maybe that’s something you could do with a friend, you each share something, and read it to each other, and talk about and see what comes up for you. And part of the beauty of poetry too is the inflection, how it’s read, the lilt. Some of it’s free verse, some of it’s very rhythmic … just listen to the sounds as you speak it.
Reach writer Indigo Trigg-Hauger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @insta_indigo