What are you working on right now?
I plan on releasing my second collection of poetry in early 2019; I'm also currently working on a concept for a YA novel.
How would you describe your style?
My style is...sad. Haha. I've always joked that I'm not very good at writing about things that make me happy.
What do you think the most well-written poems have in common? The least?
The most well-written poems are made with passion. You don't need to break out a thesaurus. Just write from the heart, about things that make you feel something. I guarantee there are others that feel the same way.
Faulkner is often attributed with saying that in writing you must “kill your darlings.” Do you find that to be sound writing advice, especially when you craft a line or stanza that you love?
I certainly have a problem with that. My co-writer often suggests I scrap phrases and lines that I get attached to, but it is necessary sometimes. Just because YOU like it, doesn't mean it's good.
Do you think the reader should have to work hard to “translate” a poem, or do you think meaning should be more matter-of-fact? What are your thoughts on accessibility of meaning?
Sometimes. I like to put a lot of double meanings in my work. One is typically easy to detect, where the other might take some work. I think it's fun to give something extra to those who look deeper.
Are there poets who influence you? Any poems or lines that have had an impact on you as a poet?
I am constantly encouraged by our current generation of poets, such as Neil Hilborn, Savannah Brown, and Rudy Francisco. Several of their poems offer a very real representation of mental illness, adolescence, and sexism--topics I tend to hit on myself.
I see you published Pencil Shavings – And Other Things From My Garbage Can with Lulu.com. What qualities are you looking for in a publisher?
LuLu has been wonderful. I discovered them when I was in high school, and used them to print a personal project I was working on. As I began to enter my local poetry scene, I remembered them as I was looking to release my debut collection. They walked me through everything I needed to do to publish. Great company.
This is more of a procedure question, but how did you go about arranging your poems in your collection? By theme? By arc? What was your proces in deciding how you wanted to lead readers through your book?
I think "An Open Letter" was always going to be the opening piece of the book. It sets the tone so well, expressing the pain that is still felt, but the decision to carry on without it. Beyind, is a book of reminiscence.
Your biography says you are an activist for mental health and anti-rape culture. How would you describe the impact of poetry/literature on activism?
Locally, I'm known for my spoken word performances. I try to articulate feelings that people typically keep inside, such as things regarding their mental health, or abuse that has happened to them. For me personally, nothing hurts worse than not being able to explain it. I aim to be the voice shouts it from rooftops, until people understand.
Do you have any advice for aspiring poets and writers?
You are your own worst critic, but you also know yourself best. If you aren't happy with your work, fix it. If you ARE happy with your work, don't doubt it.
Is there additional you'd like readers to know?
So many readers have sent me photos of their books, and given me lovely feedback. I love knowing this book meant something to you. Thank you to everyone who has picked it up.