In Their Words: Tammy Robacker on indie lit chick lessons

By Tammy Robacker on July 26, 2010


Not to be morbid, but I always wanted to write book before I died.

So I did.

The year before I turned 40, I committed to write poetry for a year straight until I had enough poems to make up a manuscript. Then, last November, I published that first collection of poetry, The Vicissitudes (Pearle Publications 2009) with funding made possible by a TAIP grant I won through the Tacoma Arts Commission.

Since being awarded Urban Grace's 2010 Soul of the City Poet Laureate of Tacoma title, I'm learning that I'm not the only writer that dreams of this achievement. I have found, in my own literary circles of friends in Tacoma - by volunteering for several local poetry organizations, and as serving as poet laureate this year - that there are writers and poets of all skill levels who always come up to me after a reading and tell me how bad they want to write a book.

As poet laureate, it is a very important task for me to share the world of poetry and writing with Tacoma from many angles. In addition to poetry readings and literary events, one of the goals of the poet laureate program for me is to outreach not just to poets but also to all people in our community who want to write or who do write and support and encourage them to reach their own personal literary goals.

In addition to the hunger many people have to publish their collection of poems, or write their first novel, they simply do not know where to start once the manuscript takes shape. It is daunting for writers and poets to consider the overwhelming world of publication options. Can you self-publish? Should you get an agent? What is the benefit of working with small presses?

To help answer these questions and offer publishing inspiration to Tacoma's writers and poets, I will be offering a class called, Indie Lit Chicks on Publishing: A Writers Workshop on Sunday, Aug. 1 from 2-4:30 p.m. at Urban Grace Church. Joining me to co-teach and host a Q&A session on topics such as self-publication, literary agents, funding, marketing and independent press publication will be two guest authors, Gina Frangello and Zoe Zolbrod. The authors will also read from their latest novels and books will be available for purchase and signing.

Gina Frangello is the author of the books My Sister's Continent (Chiasmus 2006) and Slut Lullabies (Emergency Press 2010.)  The long-time editor of Other Voices magazine, she co-founded its book imprint, Other Voices Books ( in 2005, where she serves as executive editor.  Frangello is also the fiction editor at the popular online literary collective The Nervous Breakdown ( Visit the author at:

Following her debut novel, My Sister's Continent, which delved "fearlessly into questions of identity, abuse ... trust, trespass, and delusion" (Booklist), Frangello continues her exploration of the power dynamics of gender, class, and sexuality in this collection of diverse, vibrant short fiction. Slut Lullabies is unsettling. Like the experience of reading a private diary, these stories leave one feeling slightly traitorous while also imprinting a deep recognition of truths you did not know you felt (Emergency Press).

Other Voices Books 2010 recently released Zoe Zolbrod's new novel, Currency. Inspired by her personal experiences backpacking in Asia in the mid-'90s, itis a literary thriller set in Thailand that tells about a Thai man and an American woman backpacker who get involved with each other and an endangered animal smuggling ring. Ladette Randolph, author of A Sandhills Ballad and editor-in-chief at Ploughshares, writes, "Currency is an impressive debut, a spellbinding novel of international intrigue and a heartbreaking love story between a naive young American woman and a sweetly ambitious Thai man. Zoe Zolbrod writes with authority about little known parts of Thailand in prose so beautiful I found myself conflicted between savoring every word and rushing to see what would happen next."

Zolbrod has published short stories and some of her essays appeared in Maxine, a zine she co-published in the 1990s. Born in Meadville, Penn., Zolbrod attended college in Oberlin, Ohio, and received a MA from University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, Zolbrod works in educational publishing and lives in Evanston, Ill., with her husband, the artist Mark DeBernardi, and their son and daughter. Visit the author's blog:

Indie Lit Chicks on Publishing: A Writers Workshop

Sunday, Aug. 1, 2-4:30 p.m., $10 suggested donation
Urban Grace Church, 902 Market St., Tacoma
Cost: $10 suggested donation
To RSVP, email:

LINK: Tammy Robacker knows this blog