Kim Bailey Spradlin is a 2016 Pushcart Prize Nominee, published poet and writer, and was a columnist for Five 2 One Literary Magazine from 2016-2017. Kim teaches writing courses online and works as a freelance editor. She lives in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., with her husband, poet S. Liam Spradlin.
It's gratifying to see we're on a similar path of empowering women and getting to truth, demanding that it hold a central place in our lives, communities and government. How do you feel as a writer who is a woman on this journey nearly one year into this terrifying roller coaster ride with 45 at the helm? In what ways do you feel most affected by the beliefs and actions of this regime?
I love this question, because it validates that the current administration, as we are learning, includes Republicans in Donald Trump’s regime, and has and does affect so many of us, especially women.
It’s been a hard year, but I’ve written more to controversy, politics, and truth than ever before.
The stress has, however taken a toll on my life and writing. It takes more effort to write anything, but I have learned to persist and persevere. I don’t want to write unless it has a chance to illuminate our current situation as a community and nation. I suppose my writing has become more invective, and my poetry, more political.
I’m freaking tired, though.
As a woman, writer and mother, you wear many hats and have encountered diverse obstacles and circumstances. What have been the greatest obstacles you've encountered as a mother of trans kids? How has this shifted your focus as a writer?
My greatest obstacle has been to be out of relationship with one of my trans kids because he felt I “dead named” him and outed his former self. I’ve stopped writing to his journey and mine specifically related to his, while I ask my other son’s permission when I write about the trans journey as his mom. I’ve learned that my story often intersects with theirs and to write anything about them may encroach on their privacy.
I suppose my focus has shifted on me and my relationship with self, how I experience the world, and what I hope for in this life.
Empowering women and girls, a long-held mission of Hillary Clinton's, is one that desperately needs to be embraced by as many people as possible for us to change the present course of the planet, which seems to be toward self-destruction. And for Americans, an end to gun violence--gun control. What specific steps do you envision women need to take to create a safer future for themselves and their children?
We need to be heard and believed by all other men and women. With the #MeToo stories, women are beginning to find their voices, share their experiences more openly and, what I think is most important, we are being heard by more than our best friends or therapists.
That being said, our safe futures will never be fully realized until we have more women in key roles of government, business, religion, the arts, and education who are independent and free from expected patriarchal norms.
This means we must write about, interview, sing of, make movies with and for, hire, and vote for these strong women.
It’s time we truly smash the patriarchy and have an enlightenment of equality and respect. This starts at the grassroots and moves up, while we use the leadership we work for to move outward.
I also believe we need to educate women and girls about the importance of self-empowerment and self-protection. Not enough of us know the hard side of boys and men until it hits us in family and community. There should be zero tolerance of abuse, supported by law enforcement and the legal system. If we are attacked and hurt, we need to know we can tell someone and be believed.
Writing about our experiences is an important step towards this transformation. The more we break our silence, the more we are heard, and ignorance is no longer perpetuated. The taboo of speaking about domestic and sexual abuse must be eradicated, and we women who write are the ones to do it.
Effective gun control is vital. The installment of women who support women and peace is critical for this to happen. Again, women writers can affect change and movement in policy too.
What sorts of risks do you see yourself taking and have you encountered as a woman writing about her life at this time?
I’ve risked and lost relationships, been targeted by men and women who hate anyone different, and I’ve effectively branded myself and my writing as rebellious, outspoken, and unwelcome in my family and community.
I began writing about my experiences years ago. My truths were an embarrassment to the men in my life, and sometimes to my children.
None of that has stopped me.
How has your literary focus shifted? What are you most fired up to write about? What are your current hot topics?
Ahh, great question. I find I’m extremely passionate about women’s rights, women’s voices, and women’s ability to reveal the abuse and neglect suffered in childhood and adulthood to listening audiences so the revolution of humane treatment becomes more desirable and imperative that any wealth or power.
I am ready to dig deep, to excavate the bones, clean the grounds, and raise up alms for love and peace. I am fired up about opening the windows and doors of the petrified patriarchy and eradicating its stench and existence from our world.
I continue to get a lot of push back from some people in my life. Although my husband Shan is supportive, there are some men and women in our lives who are sick of my platform and voice. Such rebukes used to bother me. What they don’t realize is their attempts to silence or shame me become more fuel for my words and passion for telling my story.
As we transition through the holidays and upcoming new year, I have a long list of writerly tasks to continue working on.
The more prominent topics are:
- Breaking the Legacy of Silence (continued but somewhat softened and more refined): women’s voices.
- How to support and install women in politics, leadership roles, and the arts (writing, publishing, poetry)
- Teaching women and men healthy boundaries, how to recognize abuse, and resource management. This comes from self-awareness, which is an individual job, but one that writing to my own experiences will help facilitate and start meaningful conversations. A group of women doing this could amplify such a mission.
- I’m focused on getting my memoir, poetry collection, and my novels published this next year.
KIM BAILEY SPRADLIN