Create a style that’s all your own. In today’s age, you might think that all of the “styles” have already been taken. But, just like certain locales are cultural melting pots, your poetry can follow suit. Learn from modern slam poets or jump back into the beat generation, and embrace the parts that feel right for you until you actually have a unique, recognizable style.
Poetry is growing in popularity and millions of people spanning the globe have a renewed passion for embracing the creativity, beauty, and art of poetry. Poetry has the power to heal and we make sense of the world through the human expression of writing and reading. Are you wondering: What does it take to become a successful poet? What is the best medium and venue to release your poetry? What are some techniques to improve or sharpen your skills? In this interview series about how to write powerful and evocative poetry, we are interviewing people who have a love for poetry and want to share their insights, and we will speak with emerging poets who want to learn more about poetry either to improve their own skills or learn how to read and interpret better. Here, we will also meet rising and successful poets who want to share their work or broaden their audience, as well as poetry and literature instructors.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angela Ash.
Angela Ash has been writing poetry since she could manage to put together a few words, escaping regularly to a fantasy-filled world that required no key, except for her own imagination. With lines of poetry scribbled on cocktail napkins, receipts and anything that faintly resembled paper, Angela gathered some of her favorites and has been published in several literary magazines over the years. She is inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, Jack Kerouac, Emily Dickinson and every word from Hamilton. She also has her own travel blog, Destination Diaries.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share a story about what first drew you to poetry?
When I was a child, I was fascinated by words. I was drawn to the idea that they could express how I was feeling or, better yet, how I hoped to feel. It was like a magical connection… a voice that could speak between my mind and the outside world. I can remember coming across Edgar Allan Poe in 6th Grade Literature, and I could barely breathe. The rhythm, the cadence of his words… it was just intoxicating.
Can you tell us a bit about the interesting or exciting projects you are working on or wish to create? What are your goals for these projects?
Ultimately, I’ll eventually put together a collection of poetry in book form, but it may take some time to get it “just right.” I was first published in print as part of a beautiful dark poetry collection, curated by the super-talented Andrea Dean Van Scoyok. I still have that first acceptance letter, as a reminder to finish what I started. I am still published in multiple magazines or collections, and that keeps my connection to writing poetry alive.
Wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition so that all of us are on the same page. What is your definition of poetry? Can you please share with us what poetry means to you?
To me, poetry isn’t just describing a moonlit forest. Rather, it is making the reader feel the mist on their skin or the way the light hits a leaf on a tree in just the most perfect way. It’s not about words on paper. It’s about feelings on paper.
What can writing poetry teach us about ourselves?
Poetry can show us parts of ourselves that we never even knew existed. We can be happier than we ever thought… or even sadder. It can bring out emotions that actually set us free, in a sense. Stuffing your feelings down can be detrimental on a number of levels, and poetry can provide an outlet for these emotions that we aren’t quite ready to allow to spill out into the “real world.”
Who are your favorite poets? Is it their style, the content or something else that resonates with you?
As mentioned, I discovered Poe when I was 11 years old. Reading those words completely changed me. He was so dedicated to perfection in his writing style… drawing in the reader with the story, but also the intricate way in which he revealed it. Poe is graceful and sophisticated, and can easily set the stage for a beautiful thing somewhere at the junction of tragedy and unadulterated happiness.
But then, I found Jack Kerouac in my late 20s. Wow, I wasted so much time, right? I’ve always been an avid traveler, and I just fell in love with his words, his experiences, his passion, and his general outlook on life. Where Poe is very dedicated to the presentation of his words, Kerouac is exactly the opposite. We’ve heard the stories about him banging away at a typewriter with ferocity, using rolls of paper as his parchment, as if he were afraid, for even a moment, to break his flow of creativity with a paper change. That, in itself, has always been beautiful to me.
And, as I very often live in a world between two extremes, it makes sense that, for me, it will always be Poe and Kerouac.
If you could ask your favourite poet a question, what would it be?
My question would go to Jack Kerouac, as I relate more to his love for life and passion for all things writing and travel. I would ask, “Does the poetry inspire the travel, or is it the travel that inspires the poetry?”’ I’m sure the explanation would probably become a grandiose conversation that may never provide a direct answer, but it would be fascinating, all the same.
Poetry can be transformational. Is there a particular poem that spoke to you and changed your life or altered a perspective you held in some way? Can you share the story?
A poem that changed my life was “Alone,” by Edgar Allan Poe. First, let me preface this with the fact that I wasn’t alone, or even feeling alone. It just struck me that it was okay to feel that way… to be unique… and to share those emotions so openly. Plus, it was the rhythm of the verses. It was the first time I had ever seen it so eloquently done.
From childhood’s hour, I have not been
As others were — I have not seen
As others saw — I could not bring
My passions from a common spring —
From the same source, I have not taken
My sorrow — I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone —
And all I lov’d — I lov’d alone —
Then — in my childhood — in the dawn
Of a most stormy life — was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still —
From the torrent, or the fountain —
From the red cliff of the mountain —
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold —
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by —
From the thunder, and the storm —
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view —
It builds up a rhythm that grows deeper and more noticeable as the poem progresses. And, at 11 years old, it was something I was determined to master.
Today’s world needs so much healing. Can you help articulate how poetry can help us heal?
Poetry draws us all together in an art form that expresses our innermost emotions. For example, so many lines from Hamilton are truly pieces of poetry:
“I am the one thing in life I can control.”
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”
“I am inimitable. I am an original.”
Those spoke to me as a human being, and as a writer. Plus, these words brought people together from all ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds. Really… how often does that happen in such an organic, seemingly effortless way?
We’d like to learn more about your poetry and writing. How would you describe yourself as a poet? Can you please share a specific passage that you think exemplifies your style or main message?
As a poet, I don’t know that I can really assign myself a label. I literally write about everything, while my main topics are internal freedom, escaping the norm, and things that go bump in the night. I want to be creative, innovative, self-reflective and make people feel something.
Or I could stay where I am,
Locked within the hollows of my own mind,
Dreading the sounds of morning,
But seeing what you never see.
In many ways, things are about give and take. In this short excerpt, it delves into that premise… that every experience is felt differently by every person on the planet. What might keep you awake at night, might be what lulls me to sleep. What makes you afraid of being alone, could be why I embrace it. Everything is a matter of perspective, which is why it’s ultimately SO exciting to consider what we can all share with and learn from each other.
What do you hope to achieve with your poetry?
I hope to leave someone with a new perspective, or perhaps even comfort during a difficult time. I want people to understand that it’s more than okay to be unique, and that we should embrace the differences that we are so lucky to discover in one another.
In your opinion and from your experience, what are 3 things everyone can learn from poetry?
- When it comes to poetry, everyone can learn patience. The words may come like a windfall, or you may have to give them a day or two to take on lives of their own. You can’t rush the process. So, this enables you to provide the same sort of patience to other areas of your life.
- Poetry can also teach us that there’s more to life than what’s inside our own backyards. There are places to explore, whether literally or figuratively. These travels can change our perspectives, and help us to appreciate different cultures, lifestyles and experiences.
- A poem can even teach us the value of words. Too often, we keep our innermost thoughts inside, rather than taking the chance that someone else may feel the same way or could benefit from this type of sharing. Words are eternal. And, they could impact someone centuries down the road. Isn’t that very idea something beautiful?
Based on your own experience and success, what are the “five things a poet needs to know to create beautiful and evocative poetry?” If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- A poet must be able to leave the real world behind. Even if your poetry is firmly rooted in reality, you have to remember that it’s not everyone’s reality. Just as you may be mesmerized and transported by song lyrics from your favorite band, poetry is no different.
- Don’t get inside of your own head. Poetry isn’t meant to be perfect. It’s meant to be real. If a word or a phrase won’t come, then it’s not the right word or phrase.
- You have to be inspired. Whether you draw your creativity from travel with someone you love, from visiting an art museum, or from watching your favorite muse play on the beach, find what flips your switch.
- Create a style that’s all your own. In today’s age, you might think that all of the “styles” have already been taken. But, just like certain locales are cultural melting pots, your poetry can follow suit. Learn from modern slam poets or jump back into the beat generation, and embrace the parts that feel right for you until you actually have a unique, recognizable style.
- Look for poetry… everywhere. It may not be in a book or on a website, but you can find poetry in some of the most unexpected places. It can be the lyrics of a metal band, the way a tree blows in the breeze, or that moment when you set foot in a completely new city or country. Poetry isn’t made up of moonbeams and rainbows. At its finest, it is piece of life portrayed in extraordinary ways. And real life is everywhere.
If you were to encourage others to write poetry, what would you tell them?
You have to be ready to lose all filters, distractions, or anything holding you back from baring your soul on paper. And write for yourself. If you write solely to be published or achieve worldwide stardom, you’re a content writer… not a poet.
How would you finish these three sentences:
Poetry teaches… how to express your emotions through words.
Poetry heals by… allowing you to escape your own reality, or embrace one that is very similar to your own.
To be a poet, you need to… be fearless. If you feel it, don’t be afraid to write your truth.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Entertainment , Business, VC funding, and Sports read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Most of my favorite poets have passed on, but I’d love to have tea with Philippa Gregory and discuss Elizabethan England… one of my oldest obsessions. Alternately, five minutes with a creative mind like Lin-Manuel Miranda would definitely inspire some great poetry.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent. We wish you continued success.