ES: How and when did you start writing poetry?
Nina: I always did, since a young child. I'd run to my parents with every three words I'd composed about my hamster or a ditty about a nasty teacher. Writing became a sanctuary when I was a teenager struggling to deal with intense emotion, protracted family illness and a sense of isolation. I was prolific then but hardly shared it with anyone. It was my private space where I could express what I really felt in an environment that had to be contained and managed.
ES: What is the hardest thing for you, about writing?
Nina: Editing myself! I'm learning to be less judgmental as I get older and that applies to how I'm trying to get out of my own way in a lot of spheres in my life. I struggle less about finding the right words. I think I just use simpler words now, pieced together in a way that I hope makes up for that one all encapsulating word or phrase. I don't want to sound trite though - that would just make me sad!
ES: What has your poetry taught you about yourself?
Nina: My poetry has taught me that language is a ladder out of the abyss of emotion. That languishing there is dangerous and not purposeful. Its always been a way for me to exhale, help me unpack and let go of something. Writing poetry is almost like a way of trying to resolve things or just live with them better. Imagery and metaphor lend an added dimension to experiences and help me make connections in creative ways. Poetry on paper also allows me a fluency I don't naturally have because I'm a stutterer.
ES: Which artist or poet most inspires you and why?
Nina: My first artist love was Amedeo Modigliani. I grew up with a huge print of his in our house. The subtle tones and lines were peaceful and seductive yet the almost vacant eyes so haunting. The painting used to scare and attract me all at the same time and make me wonder about the muse's life. It’s that combination that I love about some art. Frieda Kahlo's vulnerability was a shock when I first discovered her, as was the quantum nature of the surrealists. I fell in love instantly. One of my favorite poets is Walt Whitman because he's transcendent by being so grounded...and like me, seems like he fell in love a little with someone almost every day.
ES: If there's one boundary or misconception you could knock down about being a poet and writer, what would it be?
Nina: A misconception is that writing or poetry always needs to be clever and sharp, and dazzle with the finest executions of semantic gymnastics. Simple, honest and heartfelt really works for me.