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Sunday, April 14, 2019

 

Interview with Alicia Ezekiel-Pipkin Q1 2018 Creative Non-Fiction Essay Contest Runner Up!


Congratulations to runner up Alicia Ezekiel-Pipkin and everyone who participated in our WOW! Women on Writing Q1 2018 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest!

Alicia's Bio:

Alicia Ezekiel-Pipkin is a nonfiction lyric essayist interested in the correlational between identity and the natural world. Generally, her essays contemplate the intricate relationship of nature v. nurture and the effects that relationship has on a person. Alicia’s work has contributed to the Seattle art installation, Anastacia-Reneé: Poetry in a Time of Chaos and has been honored by New Millennium Writings. Alicia is currently working on a collection of personal essays as an MFA candidate at University of Central Florida in nonfiction. She currently lives in Orlando with her dog Theo, who does not appreciate all the large reptiles out to get him. Readers can connect with her through her new website, Instagram, or Twitter.


If you haven't done so already, check out Alicia's emotional story  Mother Moon and Me and then return here for a chat with the author.

WOW:  Congratulations again Alicia and thank you for taking time to chat with us today! Let's dig right in: Where do you write? What does your space look like?

Alicia: Generally, I write in any isolated chair and table in a room with some source of sunlight. The process of writing itself is not as demanding to me as the pre-writing. The meditating. I’m not one that can just sit down and write. For me, that practice implies a pressure to produce. I need something, a moment or concept, to consume my thoughts and demand to be written. It’s not the most reliable approach, but I do most of my writing in my head while running. When running competitively in high school and college, I found myself alone for miles and hours, with nothing to do except think. At stops signs or red lights, I’d make notes in my phone to explore on the page afterwards. Running is so isolating that it makes one examine themselves and their surroundings. I think that’s why I’m drawn to the essay. The essay is an attempt to make sense of one’s thoughts.

WOW: That's a very enlightening point of view - it also explains why you pack so much emotion into your writing. How has your writing been therapeutic? What advice would you give to others? 

Alicia:
As my father combated the crystalizing colonies of cancer cells encroached on his skin, lungs, intestines, and prostate with chemotherapy, I contended life’s afflictions with writing. After years of untreated symptoms, our medication cabinets filled with prescriptions for his cancer and my major depressive disorder in the fall of my sophomore year of college. Because the medication made us both physically ill, we turned to more natural remedies—beer for him and writing for me. Creative writing provided me with the ability to communicate the foreign emotions that blistered beneath my ribcage. Unlike the bottles of medication meant to drive away the loneliness, writing offered a way to talk to it.

The more time you spend writing, the more self-aware you become. You learn to thoughtfully and clearly communicate your ideas. Self-awareness and communication are important for everyone, not just beginning writers.

WOW: Thank you for your honesty; I'm so happy to hear you turned to something as healthy as writing! What’s next for you? What are your writing goals for 2019 and beyond?

Alicia:
Right now, I’m working on my thesis for my MFA in nonfiction at the University of Central Florida. It’s a collection of essays that explore coming of age and the weight of nature vs. nurture. The essays I've written explore subjects such as motherhood, eating disorders, love, genetics, and the natural and scientific world. These threads stem from my fascination in observing various forms of motherhood and the effects a child’s upbringing and genetics have on her emerging adulthood. Nature vs. nurture is constantly observed in this collection. These essays aim to calculate the sum of a being, to quantify the unquantifiable, and approach non-scientific subjects through a scientific or naturalist lens.

WOW: I'm not sure how you find time, but thank you for including this interview in your schedule!

What pushed you toward sharing such an intimate story? Any regrets? Tell us more...

Alicia: I wrote this piece after reading Amy Butcher’s Women These Days. Her essay stitches together news headlines by searching “woman + [verb].” Around the same time, a man had followed me on his bike as I ran. A friend was followed on her bike by two guys for twelve miles. The female runners of Rowan University (New Jersey) were banned from running in sports bras due to their bodies distracting male athletes. With all of this in mind, I wanted to explore the origins of my distrust in men and somewhat reclaim that fear in the last paragraph of my essay. The only regret I have sharing this essay is its colder portrayal of my mom. The companion essays to Mother Moon and Me flesh out her character more, and by just reading this one, the reader doesn’t get a rounded view of her. My mom is a loving, complex person who taught me empathy. Without her, I wouldn’t be a writer.

WOW: Well thank heaven's for Amy Butcher and for your bravery in sharing your story. We are so happy to part of your journey!

Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!


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