We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Hanson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Danielle, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’m a strong believer in calculated risk. I’m a poet. I don’t think anyone in Western history has made a living just writing poetry. Some people teach; and some have grants/sponsors/patrons (in the old day) but rarely would that arrangement cover living expenses for a long period of time. Up until five years ago, I funded my art by working as a corporate marketing executive. Then I quit to write. But the risk was very calculated. I had saved money, had a spouse who could support us, and I had spent years building my resume and publication history so that I had connections and a reputation in my new field. I had spreadsheets mapping money flow for the family (with future projections), and schedules of how my time would be spent. I put together a presentation showing the pros/cons of my potential career move to each member of my family. Risk is amazingly freeing, if you’ve planned well. Apart from financial and time concerns, there’s also risk of failure. I’m much more of a risk-taker in that realm. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? I dream up lots of ways to fail, and am thrilled when I don’t. Unhappiness comes from the difference between expectation and reality. I try something, expect to learn from failure, and sometimes succeed. The rare successes add up, and I now have a fairly impressive resume, built on a mountain of rejections.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My mission is to create and facilitate wonder. I believe that art is at its peak when it allows you to see the world in a new way. I hope to create images that throw the reader off balance while delighting them. I think you can show truths that way–by surprise. Being an artist can be rough. You often have a huge rejection rate, and even for publications, there’s often a long delay between writing something and hearing an editor wants to share it with their audience. I deal with these challenges in a few ways: 1) I set goals every year and hold myself to them. The goals must be things in my control. So I don’t have a goal to publish x number of poems. I have a goal to send my work out to x number of journals. I can accomplish that on my own and feel good about the work I do. 2) I remind myself that art is about connecting to the audience. Sometimes it takes time for a piece to find its audience. That viewpoint takes the labels of good/bad away from the art. 3) I end most days cooking an elaborate meal. I like cooking. By ending my work day cooking, I create something that gets immediate positive feedback. Even if I make the same thing I did two weeks ago (and I do), the family is happy to see it. At least I get a win at the end of the day. Thanks for asking about my career. I’m the author of the poetry collections Fraying Edge of Sky (winner of the Codhill Poetry Prize) and Ambushing Water (finalist for Georgia Author of the Year Award.) My poetry has been the basis for Haunting the Wrong House, a puppet show at the Center for Puppetry Arts. I’m Artist-in-Residence at Arts Beacon, Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books, and am on the staff of the Atlanta Review.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
What a fun question to ask a year into quarantine! I love hiking and museums. We would go up to the mountains for a day and hike, maybe the Raven Cliff Falls Trail; have drinks on the back porch, because that’s what we do in Atlanta; go see a show at Shakespeare Tavern; go to the Atlanta Zoo and Georgia Aquarium; shop at Dekalb Farmer’s Market and cook something we haven’t tried before; take a class in something new, like glass blowing from Janke Glass Studio or painting from Arts Beacon; take a private aerial lesson from my kids at Challenge Aerial, because they’re awesome and I like to show them off and my best friend would love to see them at work; walk the Beltline and stop in for snacks along the way; go to Wild Animal Safari and feed the zebras and cows from a car. That place is the best and worst idea ever!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow! What a hard question. There are so many people that make a community of support and inspiration in which I thrive. My roboticist husband Magnus, of course, and my cirque-performing daughters Annika and Olivia (Circus Twins ATL). I have a group of women entrepreneurs in my neighborhood, Southeast Atlanta Lady MOB, who support and celebrate each other, and remind me to use the tools of small business to promote my art. My teachers and fellow students I learned to write with, especially Richard Jackson. My collaborators on projects ranging from puppeteers Annie Peterle, Tree Aun and Lorna Gentry; visual artist Mark Liebert; and Jena Dost at Arts Beacon who brought me into her studio as Poet-in-Residence. And of course, my neighbors in Grant Park.

Website: www.daniellejhanson.com

Instagram: daniellejhanson

Linkedin: Danielle Hanson

Twitter: daniellejhanson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danielle.hanson.986

Image Credits
Two headshots: Erin Brauer Picture at reading: Colin Potts, reading location: Little Yoga Coop Picture in front of mural: Danielle Hanson, mural by Olive47

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlana is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.