We are honored to announce Liza Sparks as our new Dirt Media editor! Read a bit about what Liza has been up to recently, inspirations, and her vision as a writer and editor...
You recently taught a really beautiful (free, virtual) creativity workshop, what were some of the takeaways?
Whenever I “teach” I am reminded that I am also learning. I am not an expert on creativity or poetry or writing; but I am someone who cares deeply, who reflects, who wants to explore all of the ways we can resist and transform oppressive systems—collectively. The act of sharing knowledge feels liberatory and radical in itself.
I am reminded of an art piece by Molly Costello, with the words—
“We have been given all the tools.”
Or the end of The Wizard of Oz when Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy,
“You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
white supremacy and hetero patriarchy want us to feel small and worthless, want to silo us from one another—and we must always be combating this within ourselves and for each other—
We are Powerful. We are Enough.
What book would you recommend we all read and why?
The Body is not an Apology, by Sonya Renee Taylor
“Liberation is the opportunity for every human, no matter their body, to have unobstructed access to their highest self; for every human to live in radical self-love.”
This book changed me as a human.
Sonya Renee Taylor is brilliant.
She is one of the most important voices of our time and we should all be paying attention.
“Creating a world of justice for all bodies demands that we be radical and intersectional.”
Start by watching Sonya Renee Taylor perform her poem, “The Body is not an Apology.”
What's one thing you wouldn't want to live without?
How does daily life effect your writing?
There are so many miracles that happen in a day and there are some days that are fucking difficult. I work. I sleep. I fuck. I eat. I shit (not always in that order). I carry a notebook. I write down ideas all the time. I make notes in my phone. I read. I listen to podcasts. I listen to music. I try to be present. I find the ways things are connected. I listen for stories. The mountains talk to me…a dragonfly…shadows. I write down my dreams. I keep a gratitude journal. I connect / collaborate / dream with friends. I tell old stories—I cross them out and start again. I remember. I forget. I do human things—I worry, I clean, I brush my teeth. I do poet things—I stop, I wonder, I am taken by the world and its complexities & contradictions. I cry. This is to say, that sometimes, I manage to get words down in between / in spite of / because of the living.
What is one value you hold that inspires your work?
I was raised in a really restrictive religious household and it is no exaggeration to say that books freed me. Books freed my mind, allowed me to imagine other possibilities for my life. I think about this when I am writing—how can my work open pathways for others?
Growing up, I didn’t know I could be powerful (I’m still growing into this, by the way).
Naming myself has been really important for me—I am a brown-multiracial-pansexual-woman (among many, many other things). Growing up, I was taught I could (and would) only be a wife, a mother, and a servant of god. Books opened portals—possibilities for another, more authentic life.
I think about this quote from Toni Morrison—“if you are free, you need to free somebody else.”
If you created your own framework/model (or metaphor) for the world you want to live in, what would it be?
Something about love. Something about respect. Something about abundance and community and care. Something about resiliency. Something about trust. Something about empathy. Something about understanding. Something about justice. Something about naming ourselves. Something about communities knowing what they need. Something we are creating. Yes, something we have been / and are / and will continue working towards.
What is your goal as an editor?
What I want from an editor:
I want to know when something is falling flat, I want to know what resonates, and when I haven’t done enough research.
I want an editor who will notice a spelling error of lighting when I meant lightning. I want an editor to be kind, but honest.
It’s vulnerable to send your work out—you want someone who can honor this process; you want to feel like a human at the end of it and you want your voice to not be completely lost.
After the editorial process—you want to feel like you can keep writing…continue creating; and maybe you’re a little better because of it.
Black Lives Matter.
Transwomen are women.
Nonbinary people not only exist, but need their mother fucking rights.
Disability justice is intersectionality.
There’s a reason for the + in LGBQTIA+ (pansexuality does not erase bisexuality).
“...there is room enough for everyone.”
“Calling for recognition of nonbinary people is not the same thing as requiring everyone to be nonbinary. Drawing attention to issues facing nonbinary people does not erase the struggles women face. This is not a zero-sum game and there is room enough for everyone.” Alok Vaid-Menon, Beyond the Gender Binary
Liza Sparks (she/her/hers) is an intersectional feminist writer, poet, early childhood educator, and creative. She is a brown-multiracial-pansexual-woman living and writing in Colorado.
Liza holds her BA in poetry from Colorado College and attended on an El Pomar Scholarship for leadership and civic engagement; she also holds an MA from Goddard College in community education (with a concentration in early childhood). Liza was a finalist for Denver Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop Emerging Writer Fellowship in Poetry in 2020 and 2019; and was a semifinalist for Button Poetry’s Chapbook Contest in 2018. She has been published with Cosmonauts Avenue, Dirt Media, Tiny Spoon, Suspect Press, Stain'd Arts, and has a forthcoming publication with Spit Poet Zine.