Wendy Williams extraordinary story goes beyond being a open mic host at Sacramento Poetry Center. She is a speaker, published writer/ poet, English teacher, Coach, and visual artist. She considers herself an artistic Healer. Her website, Restory your life, present her work and her experience with Post traumatic stress disorder. I interview Wendy with 10 unique questions for July’s issue:
When did you start writing poetry and why continue doing it?
I started writing poetry in 1976. I was struggling in life and poetry provided me with an outlet for intense emotion and a way to get clarity by putting ideas onto a page.
When did you start hosting poetry readings and why?
I started hosting poetry around 2013. I was on the board for the Sacramento Poetry Center. After Paco Marquez, the previous host, left for graduate school in New York City, Bob Stanley asked if I wanted to fill the vacancy and I went for it!
Do you watch poetry at other venues like Mahogany, Shine café, or Luna’s café? Why?
I’ve been to Shine and Luna’s. I especially like Luna’s because of the super open mic where all types of folks read and react. There’s a lot of emotion from the audience and the poets, which feels good.
Did you ever wanted to go & hang out at Shine Café due to its LGBTQA following that is present there?
Yeah, I’m gonna check out the LGBTQA scene at Speak Out Sacramento. Haven’t yet.
As a PTSD survivor, is your message to help others people deal with their PTSD? Is that what your website’s main objective?
My main objective for the website is to help others see that they might unknowingly have PTSD or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. (I don’t like the “Disorder” part of the term because, in my view, it’s inaccurate.) In any case, I have PTSD from an infant surgery without anesthesia. Many people experience symptoms from early trauma but don’t realize it. They conclude they are crazy, weird, or screwed up. Some drink or do drugs to deal with symptoms. I want people to know that they could be suffering from unresolved trauma and they can get help. They can work to resolve the trauma and find relief, understanding, and peace.
You have several poems published and a book. Impressive. Which way do you like better? Publishing a book or submit poems for publish books?
I like the process of getting a book published more than the act of sending out poems. Working with Dave Boles, my editor of Cold River Press, was easy and fun. He’s super professional. And he’s a real nice guy.
So, tell me about Restory your life?
ReStory Your Life is about using writing to heal from trauma and reclaim your authenticity. Oftentimes, trauma (past hurts) run our life and we’ve got to face our pain and resolve it so that we can become more of our real self. Freedom after trauma is what we’re after. I teach Writing as Healing classes and have done speaking engagements on this subject. I’ve also worked one-on-one with folks.
Viewing your website, poems, books, and art; what do you consider yourself? Artist? Healer?
I am an artist healer.
How do you feel about the current state of poetry presented by young poets?
I love the young poets’ poetry–lots of emotion, caring, concern for others, passion, anger about injustice, and experimentation. l like spoken word poetry and the slam experience. I LOVE all the slants rhymes because language is being used in a new way.
How would you feel if you were appointed poet laureate? What would you do?
Poet laureate? I’d feel overwhelmed. I’m still teaching at community college and getting a Writing as Healing class off the ground. Let’s say I were appointed for fun’s sake. Maybe I’d spearhead a big conference/celebration/slam week to showcase all the different poets and types of poetry in the Sacramento area. We’d have workshops running all day and ask the public schools to participate. It would be like a poetry lovefest for our region. We have so much richness, don’t we? Let’s all get-together and see who we are and share it with everyone. We’d make most of the events free somehow and try to get grants or donations for use of a space. We’d also invite folks in from the surrounding counties to check us out. Sound grand? It could be.
Thank you for reading the interview with Wendy Williams. You can find more about Wendy and her life healing program at http://www.restoryyourlife.com