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20 Questions with... Thasia Anne Lunger

Poetess/author/social worker/social advocate

Thasia Anne is a poet from Erie, Pa, who has been writing professionally and sincerely since the 1990s. She is a happily married great-grandmother and retired social worker.

She produces an annual live poetry project performed during Women’s History Month in March. Named Women of Word featuring a Few Man Made Words, nicknamed WOW, it showcases each poet’s original works woven into conversations on tough subjects ripped from headlines. Their scenes featured topics such as disability, rape, homelessness, domestic violence, PTSD, suicide, and many more. Thasia Anne is the producer, director, and participating poet.

Thasia Anne also produces a cable access program, Poetry, Prose, and Personalities. The goal is to bring the arts and artists to those who are homebound or without transportation. Due to Covid, she had to revamp from live interactions to a Zoom format. That enables Thasia Anne to reach a much larger audience and interact with those from across the entire blue marble on which we live.

Poetry collections published by Alien Buddha Press

The Past is Calling, Broken Branches, Poetography, Subtle Shade of Bruise and

Still Standin

Pam’s Jacket, published by Guerilla Genesis

Angel & Captain: Five Acre Press

Novels published by Alien Buddha Press

Horse Sense, Check Mates, and Sea Escapes

Two professional women anthologies

Women of Courage V, Professional Woman’s Network

20 Lives Ignited; How 20 Women Over 60 Are Creating Success on Their Own Terms, Curated by Linda Laird Staszewski/ Aurora Corialis Publishing

Poetry anthologies of merit

Pratik, a magazine of contemporary writing: Yuyutsu Sharma

Delirious (Prince Tribute): Night Ballet Press

Hard Rain (Bob Dylan Tribute): Fevers of the Mind Press

Rastaman (Bob Marley Tribute): Alien Buddha Press (ABP)

Masks Still Aren’t Enough: W/Artist Marcel Herms (ABP)

The Picture This Anthology: Erie County Poet Laureate Project

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What was your life like growing up?

Hello I am Thasia Anne, I hail from Erie Pennsylvania. I have never lived farther than fifty miles from Lake Erie, which I refer to as my lake, and I share her with everyone. She is my true North. I can always figure out where I am, as long as I know where she is. My father abandoned my disabled mother, brother, and I when I was 6. Thank God, as my stepfather came around when I was 10 and he was a Saint. I married at 16 (Not something I recommend!)

Did you always want to be a writer? If you also work, what do you do / did you do?

In seventh grade, a lady carrying a clip board came into our English class and told us to write a poem! I believe I was prepared for that moment by the fact that our mother was a voracious reader and had read all of Rudyard Kipling’s great stories out loud to us. So I understood language could be beautiful. Our teacher said to think about something happy or sad and write about it. A neighbor boy from across the street had just been notified his older brother had been killed in Vietnam. My first poem was titled; WAR. It was the 7th grade level poetry representative for all of Erie! When you get those kinds of accolades early on, you never stop trying for some more kudos! So to me, I was supposed to be a writer. However I have held an enormous array of wild jobs to feed my kids. Mop maker, mink pelt preparer, horse trainer, aerobics instructor, maid, and finally a social worker.

Tell us about your most recently published work in a sentence.

Sea Escapes is a novel describing a journey from lost to found, forgiveness and redemption.

What are you working on right now?

The launch for the latest story anthology; 20 Lives Ignited; How 20 Women Over 60 Are Creating Success on Their Own Terms, is taking place September 22 at the Erie Art Museum. 20 powerhouse successful women over 60 still working hard and reaching for the stars.

I am editing my longest novel yet, Beach Front Property, which is based on the shores of Lake Erie. Another story about a strong women holding it together after yet one more failed attempt at love, when she steps in to save the day for a nice-looking guy in trouble. Building trust when all you have ever known is deceit is an arduous journey.

Do you have a writing routine, and if so what is it?

Anytime that new stuff is not flowing I just jump in and edit my next chosen release. I believe because I am writing in some form all the time, I never really have a true dry spell. Routinely, I write something nearly every day. I still write poetry for important events. I just headed up the Erie, PA. version of 100 Thousand Poets for Change. The following week participated in PACAPALOOZA to celebrate the arts at Erie’s historic arts center PACA, Performing Arts Collective Alliance.

Where do you write – always in the same space, or different places? Can you write ‘on the move’?

I have a home office, which I am in nearly every day. One place I like to go for inspiration is a local coffee shop called Tipsy Bean. I hold a lot of my meetings there. If I am waiting for someone to arrive I often get a poem from overheard conversations, the music playing, the scents of coffee, or all the art on the walls. I have become friends with the owner; she is a participant in my WOW show as a singer/song writer.

What advice do you have for other authors who are starting out? What is the best advice you’ve heard?

I teach journaling and channeling for women who are survivors of abuse. I tell them get the pen to paper, or fingers on the keyboard and just start. Not everything will be award-winning, but, I liken it to taking out the trash. Write the bad stuff out, crumple it and throw away if you choose. Or save it and get a collection like my book, Subtle Shade of Bruise, which is about domestic violence. I am a survivor turned thriver and educator. I also painted the cover as I couldn’t find anything that told the story; I feel the cover is perfect.

Do you enjoy doing live readings or are they a necessary evil – or somewhere in between?

I love live readings. I feel people can never get your full intention by reading the flat piece of paper. I am a performer at heart, I entertain. The crowd always loves my poem 'Team Dodge Ball'! A fun poem about my youth.

Are there recurring themes in your work? Where do you feel these emanate from if so?

As a survivor, educator, and social worker, I have a lot of work on domestic violence and other traumatic life situations. I have volumes on Family, no matter what family is in your situation. Pam’s Jacket is about a trip I took to Florida with a borrowed Jacket and the antics Pam’s Jacket and I got into.

Should writers have a moral purpose? What is the purpose of a writer in today’s society?

I have a moral purpose so my works usually show that sometimes in depth, sometimes a tiny taste woven into the story. I write poetry, and novels, so it depends on how detailed the storylines are. Other writers are free to be who they are moral or otherwise, that is the beauty of writing.

Do you write between genres or not?

Yes, I write whatever gift flows into my brain. In 2008 I fell on ice and hit my head on a cement step. I remember being concerned that it would change things for me. I prayed “Please don’t take my creativity.” I am somewhat different, but understand what could have happened that day. My life is filled with daily gratitude. Aches, pains, and memory loss suck, but beats being dead!

Which living writers do you most admire?

Here in Erie we have twin brothers that are amazing and inspirational. Matt and Mark Borczon. One writes on PTSD as a retired navy sailor who spent time in Afghanistan, the other does amazing poems on family and his travels form work after 2nd shift. Craig Czury was originally from the other end of Pennsylvania, he encouraged me to continue writing and take classes back in 1990. He writes a lot about the coal industry in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania, and travels the world.

Which dead writers do you most admire?

Maya Angelou was my hero; if I have one regret it is that I never tried to go meet her. Her grace while under fire, and her way of helping others with her words, are amazing gifts for us all.

What’s the book you wish you’d written?

That is a good question, however, I just wish I had written and gotten published much sooner! I am so thankful to Matt Borczon for suggesting I write to Alien Buddha Press. He had a hunch!

What other external influences do you have: nature/place, music etc?

I love nature, in one chapter of my real-life story I was a horse trainer and lived on forty acres. A special time and experience in my life. I witnessed the births of horses, cows, puppies, and kittens. When writing a novel I play certain music continually to stay in the right mental space for that scene. The Bolero sound track was very significant in the newest novel Sea Escapes. Right now, I am playing the heck out of the Teddy Swims cover album.

Do you suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and how do you overcome it if so?

I may have periods where I don’t write new things every day, but stay surrounded by my words.

What’s been your favourite reaction to your writing?

My favourite reaction is bound to my live performance program that I produce yearly. We call it WOW, which stands for Women of Word with a few Man Made Words. We cover subjects ripped from the headlines and tackle them through poetry. It is not an open mic. I take three poets' poems on domestic violence and weave them into a conversation on the subject. I have a narrator then take us to a scene on PTSD with my two soldiers going through a pretend counseling session. We cover homelessness, PTSD, mental illness, domestic violence, and many more. Now going into year 12, it will be at PACA in 2023. My favourite reaction is after the show. People are crying, thanking us for giving voice to their trauma. They often accept help from the counselors I have available in the audience.

I always get a cheer and applause after Team Dodge Ball, it has to be my fan favorite.

How do your family and friends feel about your writing?

My parents passed away before I became successful, but were supportive. I am involved in an anthology of twenty extraordinary women; 20 Lives Ignited; How 20 Women over 60 Are Creating Success on Their Own Terms. On the first day available on Kindle it became a number one bestseller. My son wrote a very loving email about remembering all my hard work, and tenacity to never give up. When your adult son tells you how proud he is of you, it can’t get any better than that!

Do you have a favourite bookshop?

We had one called The Erie Bookstore which held poetry readings every Friday night. That is where I met my core group of WOWiers that are in WOW! It closed when Kathleen needed to retire. I now frequent Werner Books, which is gearing up to carry my books. That way local buyers can purchase local and have me on their bookshelves.

How do you see the future of writing? Will we become more or less dependent on Amazon?

What a great question. I am all about local and small businesses. However Amazon plays a big part of making sure that we writers from all over the blue marble have access to each other. I know that the transition from mailing bulky paper manuscripts to the tune of $10 a piece, to now clicking an email send button changed the whole landscape for me. I had stopped mailing out manuscripts for some years. And then! Alien Buddha Press and electronics. For the young writers who never dealt with snail mail, mailing costs, and never hearing back, are blessed. There are still trials and tribulations, but not as costly. I think there is a time and place that makes Amazon relevant for now. Who knows what the future holds. In twenty years we may just think our manuscript onto an ear piece and the person who puts it in will absorb our words! LOL

Thank you so much for your time and attention. This was a wonderful opportunity to pseudo-meet your fans. Love to all.

Today is a great day to have a Great Day!

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