In May of 2010, I sat down with my good friend Shelby and we had a Q&A session specifically regarding my poetry. At the time this is being published on my site, I have had two poems published, the most recent in August 2011 for Nashville newspaper The Contributor.
1. Who inspired you to write ‘In Love and Lust’?
It was actually not inspired by anyone.
2. How much/often is your poetry based on an experience or a relationship?
Maybe half the time. I like to write about situations that could, and have, happened to other people, rather than just pull from things I’ve gone through. But if I do use an experience of my own, I generally change a lot of the little details or blow it out of proportion, the way I did in 'Romantic Charades.'
3. How long does it take for you to write a poem?
It takes me about two to three hours, depending on the poem.
4. What is the longest you’ve ever spent on a poem?
Roughly three hours.
5. How long does it take you to edit a poem before you release it?
I don’t really do a lot of editing, to anything I write, because I don’t just jot down everything that comes to mind when writing. I really think about what I want I want to express before I put my pencil to paper.
6. Of all of your poems, which is your favorite?
That is such a tough question! I don’t think I could ever pick a favorite. I love them all! That’s like asking a mother to choose which of her kids she likes best, and a good mother won’t be able to choose. Each one is so unique and special to me, I don’t think I could ever truly decide which one I like most.
7. Which poem are you most proud of and why?
Oh, wow. Um… let’s see. Another tough one. I think 'Ballerina,' because I actually had to research for that one and figure out how I could insert the lingo that they use for the movements and etc. So that was something different that I’ve only had to do for that poem. It was also one of those that I had to get lost in the story in order to be able to write it, because I’ve never been, or had anyone close to me, in a car crash like that, and I had to get into the mindset of, 'how would I feel if that was really me?' It would be life changing and of course you’d feel bitter. There’s a lot of bitterness in that poem and hopelessness and not knowing how to move on when the dream you’ve wished and worked for basically your whole life is suddenly unattainable.
8. How did you develop your style of poetry?
I fell upon internal rhyme by accident. I’d tried just about every kind of poetry by then, and none of them felt right or like I was any good at them. I was to the point of giving up and saying, ‘Oh, I’ll just never be good at poetry so I might as well forget it and quit trying’ when some of the lines popped into my mind for 'Lost Searching.' I gave it another try and realized, ‘Hey, I can actually do this!’
9. What influences you the most in your poetry?
Strong emotions that I’ve had or experiences other people go through that I find touching. That touch me personally, even if I can only sympathize.
10. Does your surroundings/feelings/relationships play a part in what/how you write?
I’m going to have to dissect this question because I have more than one answer. My surroundings don’t, because I try to imagine myself in that place or predicament that I’m writing about. So if I’m successful at that, I don’t even notice where I am or who’s there. My feelings and experiences definitely do, but in different ways. Sometimes it’s bringing how I felt to the table and trying to encompass all of it in a poem. Other times, it’s attempting to portray and do justice to an experience someone else has had.
11. How does poetry help you as a person?
It’s kind of like a creative relief. I absolutely love being creative, and writing, whether poetry or novels, allows me to step outside of my everyday life into someone else’s or even back into my own past and re-create that moment, those feelings. It also feels really good to have other people read my poems and find that they can relate and connect or simply smile because they like it. That makes my day every time.
12. Growing up, how have things changed in the way you write? Do you think you’ve grown as a writer? Why?
I started writing regularly at fifteen [I was eighteen at the time of this interview], and I don’t think my writing style has changed much since, only the span of my vocabulary. But anyone can see the difference between my first poem and the most recent. I’ve definitely developed as a poet.
13. You’ve currently written fourteen poems, are you working on a collection?
You know, someone suggested that a few months back and before then it had never occurred to me. I was just writing poetry for me and so other people can sympathize if they can’t empathize. But I think it’s a good idea. Maybe someday I will. I don’t see any reason not to, haha. But if I do, I think I would like to also illustrate it, so people can kind of have an idea of what image I had in my head when I was writing each poem.
14. Would you be up for collaborating on a poem?
Of course! But that’s something that’s hard to do, because everyone has a different style, and different tastes so it’s tough to find something that you both agree on. I’ve tried collaborating before and it hasn’t worked out yet, but I’m definitely still open to the idea.
15. Are all of your poems around the same viewpoint? What do you do to take yourself ‘outside the box’? Like outside of yourself?
Uh… I guess the best way I can describe this is by saying it’s like acting, for me, at least. When I am up on stage as a character, there is no Ameka. I am that character, 100%. And so when I’m not writing from experience I have to become that character, that person whose viewpoint I’m writing from. That goes for both my writing and poetry. I think that answers every question you asked…
16. Does ‘getting away’ help you in your poetry? Do you have a secret hideout to just think? What/where is it and why?
Not for my poetry, but when I was writing my last novel [A Silver Thorn] I would frequently “escape” to our RV where it’s really quiet. I have to have quiet to write. That’s the only thing for me. It allows me to… “get in the zone” I guess you could say.
17. Of all your poems, do you have any you regret? And why?
There was one, for a while. [Venom and Vengeance] is the most personal one I’ve ever written. Like, to the point where every word in every line is true. And writing something that personal and showing it to people is scary, you know? Because those were my deepest feelings in the moments I wrote that. It was written out of raw anger and hurt, and for a long time I didn’t know what I was going to do with it because I disliked it and feared it due to its honesty. But after a while, I moved on from that. It’s a beautiful poem and other people ought to be able to read it. I shouldn’t let any fear of being judged stand in its way.
18. Are all of your poems based on one thing/subject?
For anyone who hasn’t read my poems, no, definitely not. They’re very diverse. From love to hate to music to anorexia, I cover a lot of topics.
19. I’ve noticed in a few of your poems (i.e. anorexia in ‘Oh, Ana’ and ‘Short of Beauty’ or depression/suicide in ‘Lost Searching’) you speak of disorders, have you ever battled a disorder of any kind?
Yes. I am very open about the time of my life when I was suicidal. It’s something that a lot of stuff took place before I reached that point. I still battle depression. It’s not easy to deal with, especially when I don’t know why I’m depressed. But it’s something I fight and I’m going to keep fighting it.
20. In 'Romantic Charades' you mentioned a staged relationship, was it referring to something that has actually happened to you?
Yeah… in my poem the events are sort of blown out of proportion, but the underlying story is really what happened. I made a guy believe I liked him which, believe it or not, did not take much effort on my part. In all honesty it was fun but by the time he wanted more I was pretty tired of it and ready to move on.
21. What were you thinking of/about or feeling when writing ‘The Art of Being’?
This is a more recent poem that only a few people have read. I was trying to get in the mindset of a nonbeliever, or someone who was questioning faith and not finding the evidence they need to believe.
22. Do you feel your audience has to know you to understand what you write?
Not at all. But I think it’s easy to connect to my poetry because it’s so diverse and it’s not all based on my experiences. There are some that are more vague than others because I wanted to leave room for interpretation, so that others could more easily find a way to connect with them.
23. In ‘Rescued’ the protagonist was saved; in real life who do you think saves you from it all? (i.e. Who gives you the most normality or stability in life?)
I would have to say my friends.
24. In 'August Evening,' I noticed music was important to you; in your life, do you think your music plays a part in what/how you write? Why?
Totally. Music has inspired scenes for me. Like the first time I heard "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane I saw the entire final epilogue for The Zartia Series play out in my mind. The whole thing! So I grabbed a pencil and wrote it all out before I forgot any of it.
25. In ‘Ballerina’ there is a line that goes “my fate is sealed.” Do you think everything happens for a reason and we can’t choose our fate?
I think some things are meant to be, but I believe we are the ones who ultimately decide how things are going to turn out. It’s up to us whether we see life positively or negatively and what we make of this journey.