Chic Spotlight: Author Anni Macht Gibson

Chic Spotlight: Author Anni Macht Gibson

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Cincy Chic: Have you always loved to write?
Anni Macht Gibson:
It’s funny… I graduated from Seven Hills School and the Alumni Director just came across a prize-winning essay of mine from 1970! So, yes, I’ve always liked writing. I was also co-editor of the school newspaper. During my Procter & Gamble days (where I was marketing manager for 24 years), I mostly wrote memos and marketing recommendations and summaries. Between work, raising kids and ailing parents, I did not have much time to write for fun. Then, after I retired and my parents subsequently died in '01 and '02, I found myself drawn to the page again. I started out writing poetry about my feelings of loss and began reading a lot of modern poets: Jane Kenyon, Naomi Shihab Nye, Billy Collins, Ted Kooser. I graduated from poems about personal angst to more observational poetry, I’d call it.

Cincy Chic: Your first collection of poetry, Unfinished, was just released. What's it about?
Gibson:
Unfinished is a collection of 75 poems. The book will be available at Amazon.com and Joseph Beth books a book store in Dayton and one in Louisville. I’m still working on distribution elsewhere, as I need to have the book in-hand to get the distribution. I am also in two stores in Traverse City, Mich. I am having a private signing for 150 of my closest friends and family in early June. In the fall, I hope to have signings at Jospeph Beth and at Women Writing for (a) Change, the creative writer’s organization for which I teach, and without whom I would not be publishing my book. The women and men in my writing groups there have been my biggest supporters, along with my family and friends.

Cincy Chic: You split your time between Cincinnati and Traverse City. Why?
Gibson:
My husband’s family has been going to Traverse City in the summers for over 100 years. He grew up summering there. I’ve “only” been going for 26 years, since I’ve known him. There's a lot of natural beauty up there with its lakes, sand dunes, exquisite forest. They are an inspiration to me as a poet. We also like the small town life and plan to retire there eventually.

Cincy Chic: What's your favorite thing about Cincy?
Gibson:
The people; everyone is so friendly. After that, Graeters comes in a close second!

Cincy Chic: Where is your favorite spot in Cincinnati?
Gibson:
The Eden Park Overlook. It was sort of a “Lovers’ Lane” when I was a teen, but also has an exquisite view. My favorite place to write (other than at home) is Lookout Joe’s close to my house in Hyde Park.

Cincy Chic: How do you inspire yourself?
Gibson:
Ideas come to me willy nilly – when I’m reading, driving around town, listening to people, watching the world. I keep a notebook with me all of the time. Sometimes ideas are triggered by memories (I just wrote a poem how different people eat Oreo cookies, based on when I went to day camp 40 years ago! Are you a licker, a dunker or a nibbler???)

Cincy Chic: Being a writer, I know we all have an insatiable love for words. Do you have a favorite word?
Gibson:
I love all words… the feel and sound and taste of them. I love word origins and crossword puzzles. I love playing with words. I actually wrote a poem about this:

They Had Me
It’s out –
I make love to words,
promiscuously,
fondling definitions,
playing with them in ménages
a tercet and quatrain,
meaning in fleeting dalliances.

Just yesterday, I hooked up
with a couple of verbs
looking for some action.
Swept off my feet,
I swooned and mooned
over create, berate and inundate.

Tonight, nouns and adjectives
romance me:
seductive latin sambas with gusto;
Who said “words are cheap?”
They were right, available, too,
to satisfy my tawdry urges
for sexy adverbs — scantily clad
alluring modifiers, gilding lilies.

Too many pronouns make a crowd.
All I need is you and me…
maybe us for a little company,
forget he, she, it — who needs them?

I love everything about words.
Definitions, contradictions;
New: condom, old: codpiece.
Parsing sentences gives me glee,
and even spelling captivates:
M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i,
there’s a rat in separate.

Happily, my love is returned,
with metaphors embracing me
similes' not so subtle puns
bringing a smile to my lips.
Loneliness is a thing of the past.

Words, they so had me from “See Spot Run”

Cincy Chic: Do you enjoy writing anything other than poetry?
Gibson:
I also write prose, but I don't have anything publishable. Some day, I'd like to write a murder mystery, my favorite genre other than poetry.

Cincy Chic: What's your favorite book and why?
Gibson:
Collected Poems by Jane Kenyon. She is my idol and I never tire of reading and re-reading her poetry. I like her because her poetry is about everyday life and very understandable, yet beautifully written with exquisite turns of phrase.

Cincy Chic: Did you ever get the notorious "writer's block" when writing Unfinished? If so, how did you overcome that?
Gibson:
I generally go do something else and spend some time thinking. Pretty soon, the ideas start to come. Once I have an idea, I just try to get a draft down. Sometimes drafts bear little resemblance to the final work. Writer Anne LaMott calls this “the shitty first draft." I’m into “shitty first drafts” because they give me something to work from, Not all my poems are good or publishable. Some I just discard because they are hopelessly lousy. It comes with the territory.

Cincy Chic: What would you like to say to other wordsmiths out there with dreams of writing their own book?
Gibson:
Just write. Keep a journal. Write about your day, your misery, your happy times. Write badly, but just write. Over time, you will improve. Also, read. Read other authors in the genre in which you like to write. See how they use words and images and emulate them. Eventually, you will find your own style and make it your own. Also, learn to edit your work. Excise extra words, hone your writing… the more you do it, the better you will get. I took an essay I wrote for “This I Believe” on WVXU and cut it from the original 1200 words to 500, which was the limit. It was hard and took work, but I was proud when I was done. It was a much tighter, and ultimately, a better piece. And WVXU accepted it for airing.

Cincy Chic: Anything else you'd like to add?
Gibson:
I’ll add that I think that writing is both a right- and a left-brained process. The creativity and ideas and first drafts, similes, metaphors come from the right brain, but the editing requires logical left-brained thinking. It’s how you take the creative stuff and make it really good. Finally, I’d say “if you write, you are in fact a writer.” You don’t have to aspire to be one. Just write and you’ll be a writer, whether you're published or not. Develop your identity as a writer, and you’ll start to feel good about your writing. It’s a circular process. But if you aspire to be a writer you can be one. Just write.

 

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