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Every Word She Writes Is a Breath of Beauty: An Interview with TNWU’s Own Poet Laureate, Tracy Diane Miller

1937418_213723385631361_3471022623028733370_nI met Tracy Miller through her short, sparkling poems on Twitter. She writes poems for the media that inspires her, people she admires, for her family, and best of all, for those she considers friends. Tracy seems to have the magic knack of sensing when someone is in need of her poetic medicine, and her Twitter verses come through like bits of stardust. I have been lucky enough to have received poems from Tracy, and it simply astonished me with the deep sentiment she was able to express in 140 characters of less.

I didn’t know at the time that Tracy and I would become co-writers for the same (and the best!) online pop culture zine Talk Nerdy With Us. It was wonderful to have Tracy at my side, showing me the ropes. I have been impressed with Tracy’s intelligence and diligence. Recently, Tracy started her own poetry website, My Life is A Walking Shadow, lifeisawalkingshadow.wordpress.com . I asked Tracy if I could interview her, certain she had an amazing story to tell about her journey to become a poet and I was right. I was so moved by Tracy’s words, my eyes welled up with tears. Her story is one of great strength, family bonding, hard work and determination.

I hope you find as much inspiration in Tracy’s story as I have.

Tell me about where you grew up?

I grew up in the 1970s in a very bad inner city neighborhood in Philadelphia, PA. We lost our father when we were four years old and my mother raised us with limited financial resources. So, we saw alot of crime in the neighborhood. Gang activity and drug dealers were always around. But inside our small apartment, my mother shielded us from the ugliness. She used to say that you can be poor in terms of money, but wealthy with your imagination. She fostered our love for reading. We used to watch host Alistair Cooke on Masterpiece Theatre and the marvelous British dramas that aired. My favorite was the original Poldark series starring Robin Ellis and the late Angharad Rees. I also loved Upstairs, Downstairs and The Duchess of Duke Street. These shows ignited my imagination.

In addition, my mother encouraged us to strive towards education as a way of rising above our circumstances. I remember that she used to say ‘if you do well in school, they’ll give you money.’ I didn’t know who ‘they’ were, but I was always blessed that my love for learning, hard work and great memory helped me do well in school. I attended Temple University on academic scholarships, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was fortunate to attend the University of Pennsylvania Law School on a full academic scholarship. I’ve been out of school for 25 years, but I will be forever grateful that I was able to attend both college and law school without taking out any student loans.

My mother is the primary reason that I achieved the successes I have in life. She instilled in me a desire to succeed and not to fall victim to the stereotypes that I saw around me. Every success that I have achieved in life was because of her.

When did your passion for poetry begin?

In 1973. I was eight years old and I told my mother that I wanted to be a Poet Laureate when I grew up. I remember watching the news on television and there was a report about Sir John Betjeman who was the Poet Laureate for Great Britain at the time appointed by Queen Elizabeth II. To write poetry for a living…I thought that had to be the best job ever. I figured the United States must have a Poet Laureate, too. In my eight year old mind, I didn’t consider all that would entail achieving this honor. I thought that all I had to do was write poetry and do well in school and I would be discovered. Clearly that didn’t happen.

When did you start writing poetry and or prose?

I was eight years old. Every year, I wrote poems for my mother and for Stacy as birthday and Christmas gifts as well as to celebrate other special occasions. My mother passed away in 2005. But I still write poetry for her in her memory.

Do you have a favorite poet? Has your taste changed over the years?

It’s hard for me selecting a favorite poet. As a child, I was enamored by Emily Dickinson. When I started high school, I fell in love with Shakespeare’s work. I named my website Life is a walking shadow, a spin on a famous quote from Macbeth. I enjoy Robert Frost and how his poetry honors the beauty in nature. Anne Sexton led a tortured life, but her poetry is so powerful. Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning are incredible. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese is a special favorite of mine. These poets are the foundation of my love for poetry. My tastes in poetry has not changed in forty years.

Do you have a “day job” in addition to your poetry/journalism? If so, what is your “secret ID?”

I graduated law school in 1990. I was somewhat idealistic thinking that I was going to rid the world of evil predators. I enjoyed trial advocacy in law school and figured I would be a career prosecutor. But I really didn’t have the talent or temperament. Subsequently, I spent over twenty years working in law firms. It afforded me a great lifestyle, but I was never really happy or passionate about it. I’ve suffered from depression for decades and the law firm environment was hazardous to my mental health. Plus, I’m too outspoken to be effective at office politics.

But I felt guilty about walking away from my profession after being so fortunate to attend law school in the first place. I wrestled with this for a very long time.

Today, I do legal research and writing for independent clients and I tutor college students in English, History and College Composition. It has been a significant salary downgrade, but I’m happier. I have more time now to focus on my writing.

When did you first get published?

Other than my website, my poetry hasn’t been published. I’ve written fan fiction that’s published on fanfiction.net

How did you discover Talk Nerdy With Us?

A friend saw TNWU’s tweet looking for writers and suggested that I submit some writing samples. I did and they took a chance on me. I’ve been a TNWU writer since June 14, 2015.

You have a twin sister. Is she a poet as well? How has being a twin influenced your work?

No, Stacy isn’t a poet. But she’s a great entertainment writer. Her TNWU television pieces are so well-written, analytical and humorous. She is so much better than I am when it comes to piercing the veil of her favorite television shows.

Stacy inspires me every day. She handles life so much better than I ever could and doesn’t cling to guilt or regret the way I do. She has an almost childlike innocence. She enjoys simple pleasures. The best thing that ever happened to me was being born a twin. I never succumbed to peer pressure because I had my best friend for life. I’m happy when she’s proud of me.

I entered this world with my best friend. How AWESOME is that!

What was “the” show that brought you into fandom? What fandoms do you support now?

The earliest fandom experiences I had were for the soap operas Another World and General Hospital. I attended fan club events for both shows in the 1980s and early 1990s. I loved the night time soap opera Dynasty. Gordon Thomson, the actor who played Adam Carrington, has been one of my favorites since he first appeared on the show on September 29, 1982. I actually met him at the Variety Club Telethon in Philadelphia on February 4, 1989. A great moment for me! Gordon was recently in an online web series called Winterthorne, created by Michael Caruso. I wrote several pieces about Winterthorne for TNWU. I would be ECSTATIC to interview Gordon Thomson (Can you make it happen TNWU? Lol).

I loved the shows Homefront and Early Edition starring Kyle Chandler. In fact, my 122 fan fiction stories are based on Kyle Chandler’s shows. He’s another actor I would love to interview!

The only fandom I really support now is Supernatural. I enjoy dissecting episodes with a few fans and writing poetry and articles about the show. But I stay away from the fandom drama. I was initially hesitant about joining social media because some fans have a tendency of turning passion about a show into lunacy. It’s so bizarre to me that warring factions with name calling and nastiness can arise over different interpretations of a television show. My solution to not becoming engulfed in the craziness is to keep the people I follow to a manageable level.

I watch other television shows like The 100, Sleepy Hollow, Crazy Ex Girlfriend, How To Get Away With Murder, Jane the Virgin and Reign but I don’t consider myself in the fandom.

Do you have a favorite book/movie/graphic novel/video game?

I’m not a fan of graphic novels or video games. I love writing book reviews for TNWU. Two writers I adore are Lisa N. Edwards and Tracie Banister. Lisa’s books Can’t Fight Fate and Chasing Butterflies are AMAZING. She’s working on the third book in the trilogy, Seed of A Sunflower, due out this year. Lisa writes about destiny. Her characters really connect emotionally with the reader. Tracie Banister has written Twin Piques, In Need of Therapy, and Blame It On The Fame. Tracie writes characters that are wonderfully accessible to readers. There is humor throughout her writing and I love that she has Shakespearean references. One of my highlights writing for TNWU was getting to interview both Lisa and Tracie. To fully engage them about their books and writing process was a wonderful experience.

What has been your most exciting “nerd” experience to date?

I have several, actually. I’ve been a fan of Nicki Aycox for over fifteen years ever since her appearance in The X Files. I used to watch the show with my mother. When Nicki first appeared in Supernatural, I was excited. As I expected, she consistently gave chilling and memorable performances as Meg Masters.

I joined Twitter last April. I wrote Nicki a small Twitter poem for her birthday in May. She responded back and I was THRILLED. This past June, Nicki requested entries for her blog about how art expression helps you through difficult times. I wrote about my life long love for writing poetry and how that helps me deal with my depression. Nicki published my piece on her blog.

When I started writing for TNWU, I knew that I wanted to interview Nicki. I suggested her as an interview possibility. TNWU reached out to her and thankfully, she agreed. I enjoyed talking to her about her acting and music. Since that time, I’ve developed a marvelous rapport with Nicki. She has supported and encouraged my poetry. Her EP Red Velvet Room is a tremendous inspiration for me and others. I started a Twitter group for her, @aycox_fans and have developed friendships with other fans who love Nicki’s music.

In addition, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Buckley, lead vocalist for the Brian Buckley Band. He’s an AMAZING talent and great guy.

I was so happy that I was able to interview Julie McNiven and Jim Beaver. I haven’t been fortunate enough to attend a Supernatural convention and although I want to, it may never happen. At least I was able to interview some of the actors I enjoy and talk to them about their work.

I wrote several book reviews for Megan Padalecki, author of Big Mo. She’s a talented and gracious lady. I interviewed her for TNWU. She recently said that I can do a follow-up interview with her when she releases her second book. I’m really looking forward to that.

In addition to TNWU, where else can readers find your work?

In addition to poetry, I have 122 stories published at fanfiction.net My author link is: https://www.fanfiction.net/u/267655/Tracy-Diane-Miller

I’m VERY excited because I’m self-publishing a book of poetry inspired by Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting campaign and Attitudes in Reverse with a portion of the proceeds going towards Attitudes in Reverse. I adore Trish Baker who started Attitudes in Reverse in honor of her son Kenny who lost his battle with depression. Trish is the definition of strength. She turned a tragedy to a way of helping others and honoring Kenny’s legacy.

Tell us about your new site for your poetry?

My website is lifeisawalkingshadow.wordpress.com The site is for my poetry, book reviews, or any other pieces that I feel inspired to write. I have a goal of writing a poem for every Supernatural episode that has ever aired by January 18, 2017. So far, I’ve written 8 Supernatural poems. I’ve written many poems for Jared Padalecki and inspired by his Always Keep Fighting campaign. I really wish that he would be able to read some of my poetry. I know the likelihood of him seeing my poetry isn’t that high and unfortunately, it isn’t likely that I will ever be able to go to a Supernatural convention and meet him. But it makes me happy to be able to express my gratitude through poetry. In addition, I’ve had other readers tell me that my words have brought them comfort. It’s satisfying that my words can give joy, strength or comfort to others as it has for me.

 

Written by Arlene Allen

Hello, my name is Arlene Allen, and I love all things nerd: genre tv and movies, books, loud rock and roll music, kittens, conventions, books, graphic novels and superheroes, RPG and tabletop games, and did I say books? Oh, yes. I spent 25 years as a librarian (nerd) mainly working with youth (creating nerds), a number of years as a teacher (more nerd indoctrination). I have my own spawn, leveled up to 22 and my partner in nerdiness. As a nerdy writer, I have found a home at Talk Nerdy With Us.

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