Photo by: Olivia Paez
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Amanda Lovelace, the author of the award-winning poetry collection the princess saves herself in this one.
In the interview we talked about publishing, poetry, sisterhood, and more.
When I read the princess saves herself in this one, a lot of the poems resonated with me, and it has had the same effect on many people. How has the response from readers changed your life?
AMANDA LOVELACE: Thank you! This type of response has impacted me in only the best way imaginable. One of my goals with publishing the princess saves herself in this one was to have the opportunity not just for my voice and story to be heard but also to connect with others—especially young women—who feel they carry the same struggles I do. And that’s exactly what happened. I’m drowning in messages of thanks daily, even with the self-published edition of my book being off sale for weeks. (As I’m writing this, the traditionally published edition is less than two weeks away!)
Ever since making the decision to self-publish the princess saves herself in this one, I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of community and sisterhood. There are times I even receive e-mails from men who have enjoyed my work and said that it helped to open their eyes to women’s issues, which was not something I was expecting, but it’s definitely something I welcome! Not knowing who is bound to pick up my book and the effect my words will have is a daily amazement.
Was it hard to put such personal poems into the world?
AMANDA: Poetry has always been my sole emotional outlet. With poetry I feel as though there is no topic too controversial to touch upon (barring unjustifiable things such as bigotry). In the poetry community, no one ever judges you for feeling the way you do, for laying it as bare as you possibly can, even if they can’t relate to your words or experiences. They understand what it’s like to feel as though you have to get the words out of you no matter what type of reaction it causes—positive, negative, or simply indifferent. Poetry just has so much freedom. Sharing it and getting feedback has always made me feel like I’m less alone and that my feelings are valid, and as an introvert who rarely tells her true feelings to the people she’s closest to, that’s a vital thing to have at my disposal.
Although it was certainly scary to put myself out there with the princess saves herself in this one, I wasn’t so scared that I ever second-guessed my plan to publish it. Having my family and friends read it was a bit nerve-racking, and my sister always wants to know if I’ve written a negative poem about her (never!), but there is nothing that will ever make me regret it. It was something that I knew in my bones had to be done to help myself and others. Luckily, I’ve been gifted with some very understanding friends and family, but I know not everyone is as lucky as I’ve been.
What was your first reaction when your collection won the Goodreads Choice Award?
AMANDA: UM, ABSOLUTE GLEE. Until someone brought the nomination to my attention, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would be there. (I was fast asleep when voting went live.) During the voting rounds, I had no idea I even had the slightest chance of winning—not even when I made it to the finals. I mean, I was alongside so many poets that I admire, so I was ecstatic just to be included among them.
Honestly, I consider my win to be one of my biggest life achievements thus far. Not many people realize how extremely personal Goodreads is to me. I’ve been a member there since I was a young teen (15/16), and it’s been invaluable on my journey to becoming a better reader in terms of reading regularly and diversely. Next to being a writer, I consider books to be the biggest part of who I am. Basically, Goodreads had a major hand in shaping my identity, and I’m humbled and honoured to have been celebrated by them in any way!
Here at Mimp Mag we are all about sisterhood, and the idea of girls and women empowering each other. How has sisterhood played a role in your life?
AMANDA: Sisterhood impacts every area of my life, especially since I have two lovely sisters of my own, but I really want to talk about the incredible show of sisterhood—sistership, if you will—that has been impacting me the most in recent months. Even just within the poetry community, there is so much solidarity among women. Poets such as Alicia Cook, McKayla Robbin, K.Y. Robinson, Jennae Cecelia, Trista Mateer, Lang Leav, and J.R. Rogue have constantly supported me and raised awareness for my work. YA authors like Alexandra Bracken, Courtney Summers, Aisha Saeed, Danika Stone, Kelly Jensen, and Leigh Bardugo, supported me even while I was a self-published baby still figuring out the ropes—no questions asked, no thinking that I was too small a voice for them to raise up.
And I do everything within my power to help all of these women authors right back. I often say I love when poets support other poets, and that’s certainly true, but when it’s women supporting women in general, the comfort level is equivalent to putting on a warm sweater during a winter storm. There are no feelings of jealousy or competition, only raw love and pride. Women are amazing.
Do you have any role models that have impacted your life or your work?
AMANDA: Oh, absolutely! I could make a list of hundreds, but I would say my biggest creative influences have been Tahereh Mafi (author of the Shatter Me series and Furthermore), Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak and Wintergirls), and Sharon den Adel (lead singer of Within Temptation).
Why do you think poetry is important?
AMANDA: Poetry is essential right now, especially for women writers. We are absolutely shining there and saying so many things that often get ignored in conversation and media for the sake of male comfort. But when we make entire books of our thoughts, passions, and concerns, we’re no longer so easily pushed off to the side.
Poetry used to be dominated by white/cis/straight male writers, but Rupi Kaur now dominates all the lists with her book milk and honey, a highly female-centric and political book. And you can see the hostility about her success everywhere you go, which means she’s done something revolutionary for the genre.
People hate change, especially when it’s done at the hands of a woman, and even more so when it’s a woman of colour. Poetry is the means by which the pain of women can finally be shown for what it is—normalized, male-created ugliness.
Finally, do you have any advice for our readers about pursuing art through poetry or a different medium?
AMANDA: Don’t ever tell yourself that your voice isn’t needed or that you don’t have anything to say that hasn’t already been said. The world needs your art, especially in dire times such as these. Your art—whether it’s a poem, a drawing, a sculpture, a song, or something else—is going to save someone, and in turn, you will be saved too. You are good enough. Come be part of our revolution.