"There Are No Rules": An Interview with Lauren Poole
When I started this project of transitioning my Instagram Poetry to a full-blown blog, my goal was to promote the authenticity and transparency that sometimes gets lost through Social Media. I knew that I wanted to highlight writers I've read and met along this journey whose work holds similar values.
My mind immediately went to Lauren Poole. I discovered Lauren's poetry on Instagram in 2019 and was instantly drawn to everything she shared. So, it was no surprise that when she announced she was releasing her debut poetry collection, The Language of Ghosts, I wanted to read and review it (you can read that here, spoiler: it's great).
Half-way through writing the review, I decided to reach out to Lauren Poole and ask if she'd be willing to be interviewed on what it's like being an Instagram Poet and her debut collection. She agreed! So we set up a time to meet over Zoom and on the day of, I embraced all that is this global pandemic and rolled out of bed in my full-quarantine attire, water-bottle and a messy bun to call her and discuss everything that is poetry.
I often like to ask poets I meet via Instagram, 'why do you write?' As simple as the question may seem, I am a sucker for any origin story, and I feel it allows me to read their work through a different lens. So obviously, I had to ask Lauren why she writes and how it all started.
"I don't know how to not; as cringey as that sounds, I'm always thinking about it in some way - it helps me make sense of what's going on in my brain. I have so many thoughts all at once, and trying to separate my thoughts is not easy so sitting down to write helps me." She said as she began to recall memories of her original writing aspirations.
"When I was little, I wrote my first ever short story, a little mermaid fanfiction. Stories progressed to songs, and I had a phase where I thought I was going to be a songwriter and live in Nashville like Taylor Swift, and then I moved to poetry because it felt a lot less restrictive than music; with poetry, I can write what I want, in whichever way I want to."
After a few minutes of discussing the differences between writing lyrics and poems, I asked her what she believes makes a good poet.
"There are no rules. It's about writing something important to you."
She said, "don't write to push your platform or look 'woke' because that's ugly. Being a poet is about more than that; it's about writing something genuine." Stating that as cliche as it might seem, good poetry comes from "being in the moment when you're writing and not worrying about anything else."
Lauren began sharing her poetry on Instagram, explaining how it was less about gaining readership and more about creating a digital portfolio where she could keep everything she was working on and track her progress.
In this fast-paced digital era, writers have created a space where they can share their work from anywhere around the world and get instant feedback. However, anyone who has used Instagram to any extent understands that this comes with its pros and cons.
Lauren discussed how she actively distances herself from Instagram when writing to avoid any intrusive thoughts from influencing her about who might see her work and what they would think. Overall, she believes Instagram has had a more positive effect on her development as a writer. She credits Instagram and other poets for giving her a safe space to experiment with different themes and writing styles that were once out of her comfort zone.
"Before I joined, I was good at writing about heartbreak, and that was my one topic, and having the exposure to different writers, I've been able to branch out and write about my sexuality and happy poems. Before, I thought I couldn't do that."
What initially drew me to Lauren's poetry was her ability to write in an honest and vulnerable way. Especially with more personal and, at times, stigmatized themes.
"I want people to know that there are other people who are going through the same thing they are and feeling the same thing they are. Writing about bisexuality is important because I think it is very misunderstood and misrepresented. There is still a lot of exclusivity to bisexuals, so creating any fair and positive representation is my goal. It means a lot to me when I receive messages saying 'thank you for writing this' and 'reading this made me feel validated.' "
Lauren continued to explore these themes by never shying away from vulnerability as she began to compile her debut poetry collection.
The Language of Ghosts
After dedicating an entire post to how much I loved her collection and spending a significant portion of the Zoom call gushing over it, I had to ask her about her writing process and why she decided to release it amid this pandemic.
"I've tried to put it together before, but it felt like I didn't have everything. Then basically one night in July I had a mental breakdown, you know when you have a big cry, and then you have an even bigger boost of energy, well I had that, and then I was like 'I guess I'm making a book now.'
I started compiling everything in a document, and I didn't think anything would come of it because I've started putting poems in documents before and left them to rot, but then it started to come together, and I was like 'wait - is this a thing?' It felt like I had everything this time, and it had come to a natural end.
This collection is filled with poems that were written over the past two years, so when it was finally complete, it felt like a chapter closing. Publishing this book was less about people buying it and more about letting go of everything I've been holding onto and getting the closure I needed."
As she explained the significance of this collection in her healing journey, I began to reflect on my favourite poems within The Language of Ghosts (referenced in the review). I asked when looking at the collection if she had any favourite poems.
"You know when someone says 'show me a picture of them,' and you have a go-to picture, 'Alternative Names' For, after Danez Smith, is my go-to poem when people ask to read my work. It's just special to me." Lauren said she was also proud of the pacing in 'His Hands' saying, "when I read back over it, it's a poem I can go back to read when I doubt myself."
Before ending the interview, I asked Lauren Poole about her upcoming projects. Unfortunately, she said a second book is not in the works (yet), but she has been working on a Literary Magazine. In early October, Lauren created Honeyfire Literary Magazine and has been busy working on several online editions.
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Lauren is currently based in Manchester, where she is studying for her degree in French and Spanish. She is the creator and editor of My Body As A Ghost Town You Won't Stop Haunting, and has been featured in publications such as War Crimes Against the Uterus, She Will Speak: Gender-Based Violence, Peach Velvet Literary magazine, and more (check out her LinkTree for a full list!). You can also find more of her work on Instagram @laurenapoetry.