In the spirit of July’s Interdependence theme, this week’s Featured Creative is the inspiringly prolific poet, Meggie Royer. Looking through Tumblr’s “writing” tag sometime in 2013, I came across her blog, Writings for Winter, and have since fallen for her heart-on-your-sleeves-style writing that still manages to connect with cynical millennials. Meggie is a poet who’s fearlessly honest when tackling life’s most difficult emotional challenges. We thought her work perfectly captures a variety of intermingling alliances. Her third book, The No You Never Listened To, is now available via Words Dance Publishing, and her brand new online literary magazine, Persephone’s Daughters is accepting poetry, prose, and artwork focused on empowering female victims of abuse and degradation until July 8th (writers of all gender identities are welcome to submit). Throughout the week, we will feature some of our favorite poems from her blog, as well as her responses to questions about her work/creative process.
~Kim Kaletsky, Ideablog Managing Editor
In January my older brother Paul came out without even saying a single word;
I found him wrapped around the body of another boy in the kitchen
when he thought everyone else in the house was asleep,
the two of them slow dancing through the light of the open fridge,
a bag of nectarines rotting sweetly on the marble counter, leaking
dark red sludge like the inner contents of Paul’s heart.
In New York City last year a woman was killed while stargazing,
leaning out the window of her apartment to admire the deep pink sky
at the same time a young girl above her leapt from her apartment window,
hitting the woman beneath her, the two of them
plummeting to the earth below, limbs tangled in a lover’s embrace.
And that night as I watched Paul tap out a message on the other boy’s back
in Morse code at the rate of one letter every five seconds,
dash dot dash dash, dash dash dash, dot dot dash,
I realized that the act of falling in love is not so much a falling
as a desperate, terrifying leap off the highest building around,
the kind of jump that ends in not just a single casualty,
Buy Meggie’s latest book, The No You Never Listened To, here.
In your poetry, you fearlessly tackle a wide range of topics that people typically avoid, from suicide to same-sex relationships and terminal illness. How do you find the bravery to be so vulnerable when there could be consequences? What happens when you’re vulnerable and it goes wrong? What advice would you give to people afraid to face haters online or upsetting people in their real-world relationships?
I don’t like to think of them as consequences, but rather as learning experiences. If you make yourself vulnerable, you’re already brave. You’ve already done one thing right. If someone else doesn’t like your bravery, then maybe they’re showing a kind of cowardice right there; maybe they couldn’t open up the way you do. I can’t think of many specific times when I was vulnerable and it went wrong, although I have received a fair amount of criticism over the years from readers who argue that I spend too much time writing about mental illness, or have written about too many mental illnesses. Their criticism is almost laughable, because as you mentioned, many people avoid those topics. If you want to see fewer poems about mental illness, then become an activist who fights stigma and researches the best ways to promote mental health education and services in schools, for example–because when mental illness rates have been reduced, then so will the rates of poems corresponding to those topics.
To people who are afraid to face hate online or upset people in their real-world relationships, I would say this: You’re doing the real work here. Your work is valuable. Each letter you write is valuable. If someone sends you hate or insults your writing, most often they’re jealous of your talent and bravery; just remember they’re sitting behind a computer writing horrible things about someone they’ve never even met, while you’re writing beautiful and raw things about topics that matter. And the ones in the real world who truly care won’t abandon you for showing vulnerability.
See more of Meggie’s Featured Creative posts on our Ideablog
~~~Meggie Royer is a writer and photographer from the Midwest who is currently majoring in Psychology at Macalester College. Her poems have previously appeared in Words Dance Magazine, The Harpoon Review, Melancholy Hyperbole, and more. She has won national medals for her poetry and a writing portfolio in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, and was the Macalester Honorable Mention recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Student Poetry Prize.