Amber Vittoria’s debut collection of poetry, These Are My Big Girl Pants, hit shelves last month. As a successful visual artist, Vittoria has been infusing her artwork with bold colors and whimsical designs for years. These Are My Big Girl Pants shows Vittoria bringing this same playful energy to poetry, while also using it to delve into unexpectedly deep themes about womanhood, sexism, and the body. We talked with Vittoria to discover what inspires her, how her art and poetry intersect, and how writers can use poetry to challenge societal norms.
Kara Lewis (KL): These Are My Big Girl Pants is your first collection of poetry. Where did the idea for it come from and how did you approach the process of writing it?
Amber Vittoria (AV): It developed as I shared my poetry on social media. I started to explore themes like relearning about myself and adulthood, allowing me to create a series of work that became this book.
KL: This collection combines poetry and painting in a really creative way. How did these two mediums inform each other, and what gave you the idea to combine them within this collection?
AV: My poetry and paintings always inspire each other, and placing them side-by-side in book format encourages readers to interpret each in their own ways.
KL: Women feeling free and empowered to express their emotions—including both joy and rage—stands out as a central theme of this collection. In what ways do you think the world discourages women from expressing themselves, and how can poetry push back against this?
AV: Societal storylines push women to live within the boundaries of pleasantries. Poetry is a way for us to share the nuances of emotion that live within us all.
KL: From the short, rhyming lines of the poetry in this book to the bright illustrations, most works are fun on the surface, even while sometimes speaking to darker themes. Why did you make this artistic choice?
AV: Oftentimes diving into complex themes can be off-putting for many, and inviting visual and written approaches soften that entry point for readers.
KL: Many poems in this collection consider the speaker’s dialogue with herself. How does the relationship with the self and the internal monologue play into your poetry?
AV: It plays a huge role; it’s a more intimate reflection on emotion and how emotion evolves in a person with time.
KL: This book has many positive, liberating messages about not abiding by society’s beauty standards for women. In one poem, for example, the speaker notes that a pimple and a grey hair stand close together, while in another she says she’s not shaped like an hourglass. How do art and poetry help you counter the image-conscious messages often aimed at women?
AV: It showcases there are several valid expressions and storylines of womanhood, not just the few we see in media and advertising.
KL: What’s next for you creatively?
AV: My hope is to continue writing and painting, and to make another book!
Order These Are My Big Girl Pants here.
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