with Antonia M. Wang
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Antonia: I started writing in high school at the request of friends who wanted to impress their love interests with romantic letters. You could say I was their “ghostwriter.” I continued to do this over the years. My early influences were the very love stories that inspired me to write. In a sense, I’ve always been an empathic writer, in that I’m able to portrait someone else’s feelings as my own. In 2007, I founded www.biteslove.com, a site that hosts most of my early poetry and exploration with language, both in English and Spanish.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Antonia: My biggest influence is my life experience, the places I’ve lived, the people I’ve met, and the many books I’ve read over the years, ranging from fiction to philosophy, self-help, and poetry. My 17-year yoga practice, and yoga teacher training also inform my writing, particularly on self-love, self-discovery, and mindfulness. Common themes in my writing are romance, philosophy, and reverence for the natural world. My poetic style has been compared to Dylan Thomas’ but this is coincidental, as I had not read his works until recently.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, in the beautiful mountain town of Jarabacoa. Living in the heart of the Cordillera Central, surrounded by mountains, rivers, and lush vegetation, I developed an acute appreciation for beauty in all its forms. There is a rich tradition of oral “décimas” (10-line rhyming verses) in the Dominican countryside. I grew up listening to my parents recite these often philosophical, mostly humorous verses.
I went to college in the United States and later returned to the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo before moving to California at age 27. I have lived in five states and have traveled extensively within the United States and abroad. Some of my favorite sites continue to be gardens and national parks. It is from this natural well that I draw inspiration, in addition to the experiences of being a wife and mother, which can be powerful muses of their own.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
Antonia: That would be In the Posh Cocoon, a luscious collection of poetry and full-color photography from my travels near and far. The poems are untitled, brief, and full of inspiration. The work has been described as unique, healing, and uplifting.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?
Antonia: I have been writing poetry for a long time, but never called myself a poet until I encountered the Writing Community on Twitter, particularly the #vss365 and #BraveWrite prompt organizers and participants. Playing with writing prompts and having a captive audience for words motivated me to publish my first poetry collection, Love Bites, in 2019.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Antonia: Yoga, reading, and hiking. I also love to cook and share my favorite Caribbean, Asian, and fusion recipes at www.biteslife.com.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Antonia: Hindsight 2020 is my most recent poetry collection. It explores the range of human emotions during an unforgettable year. Like many around the world, I lost my share of loved ones and was forced to rediscover myself amid grief, during a series of lockdowns. The book also includes romantic poems, and the philosophical insights I was able to glean from moments of introspection and meditation. It can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Y16SP28.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
Antonia: “Words are never new. Thoughts are not original. Verses are light beams colored by experience, projected through unique vectors that intercept our angles, our tender spots, our dark.”
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Antonia: The #vss365 prompt organizers and participants, my friends and family, and the people who follow my writing and inspire me to continue on this creative journey.