An Interview with Rebecca Strait

Author of "The Gaze," "Ode To Grace," "The Beautiful One" and more.

How did you choose your pen name (and/or what does your pen name mean)?
My first name is really Rebecca. But I chose my pen name about eight years ago when I first started writing erotic poetry and fiction while I was an undergrad at Bennett College in Durham, NC. I am originally from Ohio. I like the last name "Strait." I just thought the two went together considering the content that I write about.

Why (and how) did you begin writing erotic fiction?
I only started it writing it really after going into Kuma. Isn't that strange?? *smile* I think Kuma pulled something out of me and made me want to write and submit too. After all, there are places all over the web saying "Submit! Submit! Submit!" How could I not do so? Usually, you have to ask to write for another site.
Erotic poetry is really more 'experimental foreplay' for me. It's a way for me to write down what I'm feelin'. I've always been curious and Kuma lets me explore all of the characters featured in my poetry.

How long have you been writing?
I have been writing seriously for about five years now. I've always loved writing but it wasn't until recently, after browsing the web and entering Kuma did I really decide to start submitting my work for publication. I saw some other poems on the website which really inspired me to share and write more of my own. Kuma was the first place on the web where I felt totally accepted and uninhibited with my writing. It was a 'safe' place for me to explore all kinds of different writings and styles. I write science fiction too.

How do you get ideas for your work?
I get my ideas from reading other books and poems, hearing about other people's stories and experieces as human beings. And then especially from talking to other girlfriends who have been in similar situations. I've written whole poems based off of stuff relayed to me or that I heard from other people. So I decided to take that experience, those feelings, and turn it into poetry. I like to sometimes "write back" to another poem; someone on this site talked about that. That' a good idea!! I think that's a great way to experiment with your poetry as well.

How long does it typically take to write a piece?
It doesn't take me that long at all, especially when the mood strikes and jumps in my bones. My poems come from desire, seeing the way people react and relate in relationships. If you really study and look at my poems you will see that love runs throughout the pieces. That's my biggest concern. I try not to write poems that are just about "flesh." But rather I try to go deeper than that, into our spirit and souls. I'm still working on it!!

How does your work reflect (or compare to) your real life experiences?
Actually most of them are stories that were relayed to me through other people who have been directly or indirectly involved in those experiences. I have a way of taking someone's personal experience and then making it sound as if it is my own so that I can then turn it into something universal so that all people can feel it--regardless of age, rage, sex, gender, preferance. Again, I am a just a new poet but I like to explore deeper issues and things, the psychology of love and attraction, what motivates us to do the things that we do, to love the ones that we love. And so because I consider myself a new poet, I like to explore all different issues and themes. It's a wonderful thing! I am just seeing how far I can go with my own writing and etc., how believable they can be and come across to other readers. I think I do a good job. Although I don't feel as though I am as good of a poet as many others on the website--which is growing by the way! The poems about heartbreak have some of me in them. And everyone else who emails me about them!

What poetry (or creative projects) are you working on right now?
I am actually not working on any poetry or creative projects right now. I have this short story I wrote a while ago about this encounter in a library. I don't know what I did with it! I started it at the library after someone caught my eye and I developed this whole scene in my mind. One day, I will find out which piece of scrap paper I wrote that on.

Has your work been published anywhere else? If yes, where?
I did get a request from the Role Call editors to be featured in their anthology. I submitted a poem which was revised but I haven't got the book yet so I don't even know if I am in it!! If I am, that will be my first published poem--ever!!
Editor's Note: Rebecca's poem I Hate Your Guts has been published in Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art

When can we look forward to reading something else by you on Kuma?
I have some poems that are supposed to be featured on the site in May.

If you had to choose, which one of your own stories or poems published with Kuma would you say is your favorite?
I like "The Gaze." It sums up all of my other poems.

Which stories and/or poetry on Kuma do you like that were NOT written by you?
I like Mysteree and Soul Trinity (among numerous others) because their experiences seem closer to mine. They seem much more in touch with the depths and psychology of love. I frequently email poets who I admire so if they are reading this now--they know who they are! And thanks to whomever has ever written me to say "thank you....that was just what I was feeling...." There was another poet, Beach Water, and Najaah Child's and I started communicating before she ever got published on the site. She emailed me and said she liked me poetry and we chatted and I encouraged her to submit and since then, she's blown up. Everyone who emails me I tell them to submit. There are lots of poems that I like on the site, I don't have a favorite. It would be hard and unfair to choose becuase the poets are really good, the stories, everything! It's such a great site. I come to it often and read about love.....

Please tell us one thing you do for fun.
Hmmmm......what do I like doing for fun? I like movies. I read Kuma for fun. Hang out with friends in NC. Like reading, writing and listening to other poets. Experimenting with my hair. It's in a cute huge natural Afro now, kinda' like Jill Scott. It'll be totally different next week. I really like reading and writing. NOW THAT IS FUN.

Read The Gaze, Ode To Grace, or The Beautiful One.

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