Today we’re joined by Karina Suzanne. Karina is a talented poet who is also a photographer. Her true passion in life is poetry and she’s very active in her local poetry community. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
My name is Karina Suzanne. I’m a poet from Orlando, Florida. I mainly write spoken word pieces. My most honest poem (and the one I’m most proud of) is titled “Keep On My Pants and Jacket,” which is about my asexuality. I perform my spoken word poems onstage every Wednesday night at a local coffee shop that I love.
What inspires you?
People. Other artists or someone I run into while getting coffee. I like having a good conversation with someone, no small talk, and taking in everything they say. Their beliefs, how they see the world, the way they talk. I can create infinite stories just from who I meet and talk to in everyday life and I think that that’s amazing.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
Growing up, I’d been told multiple times that I was very creative. I’ve always had an appreciation for art. I started off writing really cliché, crappy love songs in high school that eventually turned into decent poetry. By the time I was an extremely naïve freshman in college, I had so many feelings and so much going on, that writing poetry was second nature to me. I actually have Bipolar Disorder, but I wasn’t diagnosed until around early June of 2014. So from all the time before that, my emotions confused me and I was so off the walls with depression, mania, anxiety, etc. that I literally thought I was going crazy. Weirdly enough, that made some great poetry. Slightly off topic, but that’s what molded me into the poet I am today.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I don’t use set rhyme schemes or patterns in my work. I like to create my own flow and just do what sounds right to me. There are no rules to writing poetry and I think a lot of writers forget that sometimes.
What advice would you give to young aspiring artists?
Don’t let others judgments change how you create your art. Be raw, create what you feel. Don’t hold back. Never let someone tell you that your art is wrong, because they are wrong.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
I have. I went on a date with a good friend at the time and when he found out, he asked the usual, “Are you a plant?” “Do you reproduce on your own?” “Oh, that means you only masturbate.” Then he started laughing at me. Ignorance blows my mind sometimes. Needless to say, we’re not friends anymore.
I’ve also been…I guess you can say broken up with? I don’t consider this ignorance or prejudice, but it’s an experience that I know a lot of aces might have dealt with that caused some emotional pain. I had been seeing someone and we mutually really liked each other. But I told him I was asexual because that time had come, and he felt that we wouldn’t work out because sex was important to him in a relationship, and I completely respect that. It really sucked for me. It hurt pretty badly, not because things ended, but because of the reason. I had never dealt with that before (being a newly found ace), so it was so new to me and I hadn’t felt that pain. Like I said though, I respect that he did that and stayed true to himself and I know that he respected that I was honest with him.
Then there’s what I like to call “the booty call boys.” One of my favorite aspects of being ace is the reactions of some men. They’ll talk to me and flirt with me, texting me all the time. Then I drop the ace bomb and all of a sudden I don’t exist. Zero responses. It’s nice to know that I’m just a sex object to so many people! But it’s fine, because why would I want prejudice jerks in my life?
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
Asexuality has so many different branches. But a lot of people are uneducated about asexuality, so they fit it all under one stereotype. Since I identify as panromantic, I’m a fan of intimacy. When I tell someone I’m ace, the first thing they usually say is along the lines of, “So you don’t kiss anyone?” “You aren’t attracted to anyone?” “Does that mean you’re gay?”
Au contraire. I love making out, I love cuddling, I love being close with the person I’m interested in. It’s just sexual interaction that I have zero desire for what-so-ever. Also, there are many straight aces out there, too, everyone. (But I do fancy ladies as well. It’s very rare for me, though.)
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I encourage you to only do what you’re comfortable with. Don’t have sex to convince yourself otherwise. Only have sex if you want to and you feel that it’s right. Peer pressure is stupid. It can be very difficult, especially at first, but the more research you do, the better. Go through the #asexual tag on tumblr. Follow ace twitter accounts. Reddit even has an asexual sub-reddit, which is full of forums about every topic regarding asexuality that you can think of. Once you realize that you’re not alone and that you can live a normal life as an ace (despite what anyone tells you), you’ll feel comforted and accepted.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I post my best work to my Flink page. Be sure to check out my poem “Keep On My Pants and Jacket,” which was written about my asexuality. I also have a poetry tumblr. You can check the links below to reach my work!
Thank you so much, Karina, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.