We are honored to have had the chance to interview poet Emily Adams-Aucoin. In this interview, Emily tells us about the writing community on Instagram and what poetry means to her. Read this interview to learn about the author and gain some writing knowledge. Be sure to check out Emily on Instagram at @emilyapoetry!
What do you love about poetry?
Poetry is so many different and necessary things. I began writing poetry first as an outlet for the emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with. Fear, pain, guilt- it was a way of reconciling the thoughts and feelings that clogged my head. It was therapy. I filled journals with poems and stories and for a long time, I only knew peace when I was writing. Still, when I am writing poetry, I feel most like myself. But poetry is more. Poetry can take an emotion and convey it in such a way that the reader can physically feel it. It’s almost tangible the way poetry can affect us. In this way, it is a form of connection, a reaching hand, a gift to anyone who reads the words and is moved by them. Poetry is also a way of remembering, of preserving a moment or a feeling, of pausing and exploring what might have otherwise been forgotten in the everyday obligations of life. It is a story, a snapshot.
What do you want to teach your students about poets?
I aim to teach my students that poetry isn’t one fixed box whose borders must be minded. It is an entity, an almost living, breathing thing. And most importantly, it is what they want it to be. Rules in poetry exist for a reason, but they can certainly be bent or broken. Sometimes, I’ll teach a student how to form a couplet or haiku and they’ll grasp the concept of rhyming or counting syllables right away. Other students grimace when I mention the word poetry, and often I find that it’s due to preconceived notions about what “poetry” is. When I introduce the concept of narrative free-verse, students are often surprised to learn that writing poetry is not nearly as difficult as they once imagined. I also want my students (and everyone) to know that they do not need to be published in order to be a poet or a writer. One needs only to have written (though that is often the most difficult part).
Why is poetry meant to be read aloud?
Though I adore the written word, and collect (probably too many, if there is such a thing) poetry chapbooks and anthologies, there is an undeniable power to spoken word. The human voice is a deeply potent and connecting thing. When a poem is read aloud, it’s often read as the poet intended; certain words and phrases are emphasized in a unique way that using italics or spacing simply cannot. What adds to the power of spoken word is that it’s not just poetry, it is performance. It is a combination of words, gestures, and tone. It’s like three-dimensional poetry. Additionally, I have seen spoken word engage my students where written word could not due to their reading levels. Hearing a poem spoken increased their comprehension drastically. There are pieces that are certainly meant to be read on paper, absorbed and interpreted privately by the reader, but I believe there are also pieces that are meant to be read, to be breathed into life.
What do you love about the Instagram writers community?
Since I began my poetry-based Instagram account in the summer of 2017, the Instagram writing community has been one of the most supportive, loving communities that I have ever been a part of. It’s a vulnerable thing- sharing what you’ve created. And to have so much love, so much positivity shown in response to my poetry means the world to me. When I began my account, my goal was not to gain thousands of followers or to get hundreds of likes. It was to encourage myself to be brave. As a naturally shy and introverted person, the idea of sharing my work was initially terrifying. But I received so much warmth from the Instagram poetry, and have made personal and professional connections due to the love and generosity of the writing community on Instagram. And it still is just that- a small act of bravery, to post parts of my heart for the world to see. But love is stronger than fear, and I trust Instagram writing community with the soft and vulnerable parts of myself.