It is 2019, and culturally, we demand change. We crave diversity and new ideas. Boundaries of gender, sexuality, ethics, and power are being redrawn. And, within this redefining moment, there is a new vitality of women’s voices pushing forward with unstoppable force…
Anna Suarez is a debut visionary poet of empowerment. And for this poetic bruja, cannabis is her herb of choice—an essential step in her creative and spiritual processes.
“Papi Doesn’t Love Me No More,” is a meditation of feminist spirituality and confessionalism. In her new full-length volume from Clash Books, Suarez writes as both witness and warrior. On the surface-level, her work addresses sexuality, loss, sex work, and abuse. Suarez identifies with the pain of women—all women. Yet, these poems contain lifetimes of knowledge culled from far beyond the “multitudes,” and even beyond the current zeitgeist…
In “Papi Doesn’t Love Me No More,” WOMAN is elevated beyond just being a gender, trope, or a symbol. WOMAN is a history, a being, a place, a landscape. These are beautiful poems, but they address violence, too. Suarez stares-down evil and refuses to back away. There is softness within the harshness.
In “Salome,” Suarez recognizes the women, demoralized by patriarchy and capitalism.
“…I see myself in young women. Lonely, tired eyes… dejected./They wear the tight black dresses. Pray they are paid./I need to make the electric bill this month, fuck….”
Later, in the poem, she envisions a place where scarcity, poverty, and dejection does not exist. In this re-vision, abundance replaces pain, and there is rest.
“…I want to come home. Perform a ritual while the moon’s/bloody harvest rains all over me, sleeping on the altar you/built. I will be sleeping under the willow tree, the lilacs./Then burn the money that belongs to my darkest self./I want to come home…”
By the end of “Salome,” the speaker owns her inner-darkness, her experiences, and locates repose within her own “home”— a place of safety within her body and soul. Money does not provide her peace. Peace is found within her own boundaries and desires as she accepts all the facets of herself.
From beyond her twenty-five years, here is the story of women. Of joy. Survival. And, of love and damage. In her poem, “Magnolias,” Suarez writes “…they should have told you/the body weakens over time,/we blossom before the/rest of the tree &/those brought to/life in pieces/must break.” Suarez address pain like no other female poet.
I met Anna several years ago in a college women’s spirituality class— we were both searching. For love, inspiration, and the perfect shade of red lipstick.
As I learned about the history of the goddess alongside her quick mind and bright dark eyes, I felt her strength. Suarez’s sensitive intellectualism struck me intensely, but so did her down-to-earth Jersey-Girl ways. I was instantly won-over.
Anna Suarez is the hardest-working young woman I know, never one to deflect from her goals. It comes as no surprise to me that her first book will be released in June while she is at the precociously ripe age of twenty-five.
How do you identify?
Capricorn sun, Cancer rising, Virgo moon.
What communities are you a part of?
I’m a bit of a loner, but I have a wonderful community in Portland. We are all artists, witches, queers, stoners, and the kind of people who need to know your astrological sign before they can fuck with you. It’s diverse. I like having a lot of different cultural/social perspectives in my community.
How did this work find you?
I fell in love with fantasy: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and those weird dragon books you find at the Scholastic Book Fair in elementary school. I loved fairies and magical creatures. I began writing about that and often inserting myself in a fantastical narrative. I was an outcast, like the kids at Hogwarts. I felt at home in these stories. Kids in my class called me a spic, a weirdo, a satanist, a lesbian, ugly, poor… You name it. I was deeply depressed starting around age nine, and I found myself in my writing. Creating my own magical world was my safe space. I kept writing and it turned into a career goal, but even though my writing is deeply personal, there is still that little nerdy fantasy girl.
Your manuscript is confessional. Who are the writers that speak to you? Are you speaking back to them—or is your audience someone else?
I am speaking back to my favorite writers, but I speak to a lot of different people in my work. Anne Sexton and Anais Nin are my major influences. I speak to my spiritual guides, the artists who inspire me, my grandmother who showed me poetry, the outcasts, the weirdos, Latinas, sluts, stoner babes, witches, survivors.
Which writers/artists/musicians/creatives impact your worldview? Who influences you?
I started seriously writing poetry when I was sixteen. My grandma showed me Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. She told me they are her favorite poets. I felt a deep connection to Anne Sexton. My Grandma read me her poem, “Just Once” and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.
I found Anais Nin when I was 20 years old and I was never the same after reading Delta of Venus. I finally read Henry and June, which felt like I was reading my own thoughts. Anais taught me a lot about my erotic self and how to empower my sexuality.
How is cannabis part of your life?
Cannabis is one of the most important parts of my life. It’s how I wind down at the end of the day. When I practice my magic, cannabis inspires my spiritual practices and opens my chakras. My aura is smooth like honey. I love cannabis before and after sex. I feel connected to my body as well as my partner’s body. Sensations are maximized.
How do you use cannabis to access your spirituality?
I am a practicing witch/bruja. I like to smoke a little weed before my rituals because I feel opened to the spiritual realm. Sometimes I experience anxiety doing rituals because you never know what you’ll open up, cannabis helps with anxiety and calms me down.
What strain(s) help you and why?
I only use indicas or indica-dominant hybrids. My favorite strains are: Obama Kush and Purple Hindu Kush. I find that they are the most creative indicas. I can fall asleep and have beautiful dreams or I can mix them with my green tea and write.
What are your preferred methods of cannabis use?
How does cannabis use affect your mindset?
Cannabis is so multifaceted. I can be giggly, goofy, sexy, erotic, playful, creative, confident, and chill.
How do you use cannabis to access your poetry?
I find creative strains and take pleasure in smoking while I write. I develop a stronger imagination and connection to imagery.
Academically, you have a philosophy-based background. How does this interplay within your writing? What is this space like for you? What did you learn from this path?
My existentialism teacher gave a disclaimer that a lot of the texts we will read may trigger depression. He was very sweet about it and opened a space to confide in him about how the texts affected us. I had the opposite experience. I was empowered by the idea that “existence precedes essence.” I fell in love with semiotics and deconstructing language, specifically, how language is merely symbols. I wanted to decolonize and develop language in my work. I continued with philosophy, which had a lot of bumps in the road as far as studying in a department so devoted to analytical thinkers. I guess you could say that analytical thinkers are sexist, racist white men, trying to justify human experience with logic. What did I learn from studying philosophy? That human experience is much more than logic and deductive reasoning.
If your life was a T-shirt slogan / bumper sticker what would it say?
“I can’t wait to go home, smoke weed, and eat pasta.”
You’re a “Jersey Girl.” What’s your favorite Bruce Springsteen song?
“I’m on Fire.” Hands down. That’s my go-to karaoke song.
What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Tomorrow?
I’m only 25, so I’m trying to figure that out. All I can see in my future are lots of flowers, cats, books, love, and of course….cannabis.
Anna Suarez’s “Papi Doesn’t Love Me No More” is available for preorder from Clash Books. The book’s official release date is June 18th, 2019, though through preorder, the book ships-out in May.
Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.