Tanya Markul

Poet Tanya Markul Talks Process, Passion, and Healing

With a focus on understanding and healing the pain within, Tanya Markul’s work is equal parts poetry, magic, and medicine. Her first collection, The She Book, was released in 2017. Praised as both tender and fierce, the collection encourages readers to embrace peace, acceptance, creativity, and a deeper connection with life. Markul builds on those themes in her forthcoming collection, The She Book v.2, available June 30, 2020. 


Thea Voutiritsas: What are you currently reading?

Tayna Markul: I’m reading my six-year-old The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. And I have a pile of books at my bedside that includes Becoming by Michelle Obama, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life by Ali Wong, The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish, Dream Work by Mary Oliver, and A Witch Alone by Marian Green. 


TV: Who are a few of your favorite poets and how did you discover them?

TM: I discovered Dr. Seuss as a child and immediately fell in love and still love his work to this day. Time, friends, and social media have introduced me to the work of Rupi Kaur, Cleo Wade, Nayyirah Waheed, and Alexandra Elle. I also love the feminine energy of Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Marion Woodman, and Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I find solace when I’m down with Sylvia Plath, and I absolutely love Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hafiz, and Khalil Gibran.


TV: How did you find the process of writing The She Book v.2 different from the 2017 The She Book

TM: The first collection was a purge—a release of what I had been holding captive for a decade or more. The second collection I wrote for survival. I wrote to soften the sharp edges of emotional pain and to create a net and a safe space to pause and assess the depth of my depression. It was my way out of the Underworld.


TV: What made you want to pick up at passage one hundred fifteen for volume two, rather than starting at one again? 

TM: It felt natural to create a continuation rather than a full stop. I feel that way about poetry and prose—that it’s never really an ending, but an opening, a door, an ongoing story of the evolution of the writer’s life and the life around them.


TV: Tell us about your process . . . do you favor the pen or the keyboard?

TM: I use my laptop, a 1975 Brother typewriter, and paper and pen. I use what feels like the medium that can get my message through with the most clarity, and I typically always have a notebook and a Sharpie with me. 


TV: Do you read your reviews?

TM: I have. It depends. It can be scary to read the more negative and critical comments from people who I don’t know and never met. I don’t usually go there unless I’m feeling super detached. I’m also still working on my ‘issues’ of receiving amazing praise. 


TV: Did publishing your first book change anything about your writing process? If so, how?

TM: Yes! It’s made me want to get closer to my truths and authentic expression. It’s made me humble, passionate, and more committed to the path of feeling, healing, and revealing my true self. And what I mean by ‘true self’ is the me that is less constricted by fear, my inner narrative, victimhood, shame, and pain.


TV: What is the strangest thing you know to be true about the art of poetry?

TM: That it’s alchemy, and a safe place to transform painful stories and strong emotions into metaphors, flavors, color, and landscapes. It’s a way to see your reflection in nature.


TV: “I used to define myself by all that is narrowing.” Can you elaborate on what that means?

TM: By narrowing I mean my self-limiting beliefs—beliefs about myself that hold me back, that are usually rooted in fear, pain, little to no self-worth, and learned superficiality. 


TV: What do you think it means to end the legacy of pain?

TM: Taking compassionate, meaningful, and empowered responsibility for where you are right now in your life and where you are going in the name of inner freedom, beauty, and peace.


TV: What role has poetry played in your journey of self-understanding? 

TM: It’s been like water—a place of reflection and introspection. 


TV: What does literary success look like to you?

TM: Being published by an amazing publisher like Andrews McMeel! And being on the New York Times bestseller list one day!