Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

Writer Thoughts Thursday: Poetry Chapbook

This post isn’t advice on how to create a poetry chapbook. Heck, I just completed my first one with 36 poems, and I’m not a heavy writer of poetry, though I tend to write poetically in my novels in some cases; however, I will be submitting it after some serious revisions. Rather, this is me discussing what this poetry chapbook means to me and why I wrote it. In fact, the logo on this blog is the title of what I want to be the first poem in it.

My life has been a snowball effect. At times I have been deeply happy, and other times I have been deeply depressed because I think too much and sometimes too little. If you’ve ever read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you’ll know what I’m talking about in relations to Charlie’s character, because his past is similar to what happened to me in September.These two binaries are so conflicting. I want to be deeply happy. My loving, incredible parents want that for me as well. I’ve never really praised my parents on my blog, just because what I write on here never warranted it. They do read it. Sometimes they express concern over what I’ve written, but oftentimes I am highly aware they will read it. Writing is the best way for me to speak about what I feel, so some of write I write IS a message to them so we can sit and talk.

I am aware of how other parents take care of their children, just from simple Facebook statuses. My best friend’s mother is incredible when caring for her two autistic sons. She doesn’t define them by their autism. My best Canadian friend is raising her children to love the world and everyone in it–or so I get from her. I couldn’t ask for more incredible parents. They arguably spoil me. I soak in their wisdom and aspire to be like the both of them–chill and satisfied–and they’re my everything. They still give me birthday and Christmas presents, but I don’t need those things from them, though I appreciate them. All I need is them in my life. I don’t know if they know these things, how deeply my appreciation and love for them goes. They can’t unless they are me. They’re wonderful parents, and I hope those reading this have parents as wonderful as mine. I’m tearing up just writing this.

I’ll speak about my fiance in another post, hopefully soon. He’s another, incredibly important person in my life whom I love with the very depths of my heart.

In any case, I want to talk about my chapbook. I do plan to write a preface for it. Mariah is writing a foreward. I also want to write an essay that will take place at the end of the chapbook. There are so many things I want to say that poetry alone won’t convey. I also want to see about writing a short story for it. I want to add stock photo pictures. Rachel Thompson’s book Broken Pieces was an enormous inspiration for this chapbook because she suffered sexual abuse as a child. Though I didn’t suffer as a child, I might as well been a child, as this man was old enough to be my father, even though I saw him as a brother I needed in my life. I have my real brother back, though. We may not talk much, but for the first time in my life, I can say I’ve truly connected with him in ways I am unable to express. To be honest, I’m just shy around him because he’s been out of my life for so long. But this doesn’t mean I won’t do things with him and his wife and son, who is a beautiful boy whom I can’t wait to see grow into an incredible young man. And he will because my brother is an excellent father. He makes mistakes, but what parent doesn’t?

I’ve titled this chapbook Pretty Girl, Unravel Me. There are poems speaking about beauty and how I often feel it is more of a hindrance than society realizes. There are poems speaking about sexual abuse. There are poems about suicide and self-harm. Then there are poems I’m not ready to mention, but poems I hope will be relevant when it comes time for me to cry out. I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to be rushed.

Oh, yes, Mariah says they need a lot of work, but they were drafts I sent her. I simply changed a few things before tossing it out there, but once she re-reads it and my best poet friend reads it and I make more changes, I plan to submit it to Gnome on Pig Productions. I hope they’ll enjoy it despite the dark material. There will be no hard feelings otherwise. They’re brand new, and I’ve been, *ahem,* essentially stalking them. I can tell they know what they are doing. In fact, they went to a convention to help sell an author’s book, and I think that’s great. I’ve always wanted a publisher that does this. It shows they know how to extend their reach. I’m impressed. They’re growing fast.

Yeah, yeah, you should sit back and wait to see how a publisher does, but a publisher ALWAYS needs a first book to take off. Poetry is a hard sell anyway, but I hope through them it will flourish. Even if it doesn’t for whatever reason, I think it’s easier to deal with a self-published poetry chapbook than a novel anyway.

When Stars Die is also with Pandamoon Publishing. I didn’t want to mention anything, but I was able to bypass the entire process and send the book straight to the publisher. That’s all I’m going to mention for now. They’ve been on my list for quite some time. They’ve had their skin in the game for slightly more than two years, and they don’t seem like they’ll be closing their doors any time soon. I’ve stalked them as well and LOVE what I see. I’ve bought two books from them.

I wrote this chapbook because I knew it was time for me to get my feelings out there that a memoir can’t express. I believe poetry is the most expressive, most hard-hitting form of writing out there. Because a poem is short, the feelings it evokes hit you a lot faster than something like a novel will. This isn’t putting down novels at all. After all, I will ALWAYS be a novelist first and foremost.

This chapbook is my first, true experience with delving into poetry. Oh, certainly I’ve written poetry before, but I never sought publication with them. I know with a lot of chapbooks the poetry contained within has been published with other places, which gives these writers a leg up, but I care not to wait ten million years for the 36 poems I’ve written to be published elsewhere, especially because a lot of journals want full rights for about three months. No, no, and no. All of these poems have a cohesive theme that can be divided up into three parts. The connecting theme is about women who have been abused in some way, whether by their own minds or some external forces. They are thoughts coming primarily from me.

I want men to read it. This chapbook may seem like an attack on them–at least I hope it isn’t. But I WANT them to think, “Not all men are like this.” I truly do. This is a valid thought. Their feelings are valid, and I want them to have that response so I can listen to them and why they feel that way. Heck, it could create a poetry chapbook celebrating men from a woman’s perspective! I think a lot of men would appreciate that, I hope. From what I’ve seen of feminism, SOME feminists tend to ignore men’s concerns. Men say that for a reason, and that reason ALWAYS goes unanswered. That thought is painted as selfish, as “this isn’t about you!” How can it be, though? We’re being selfish by brushing it off as a selfish thought. So this chapbook is written for them as well. It’s a stretch, but I want their responses in blog posts, in book reviews, and so on and so forth.

I’ll admit to being afraid of men I sense–maybe wrongly–don’t have good intentions. Unfortunately, this is a lot of them, but this doesn’t mean I’m going to avoid a well-intentioned, intellectual conversation with them. After all, I have an incredible man I am friends with at work. He’s a weekend warrior, always wandering the mall, and we have wonderful conversations. He’ll comment on how pretty I am, which I appreciate, but that isn’t the only thing about me he’s interested in–as a person, nothing beyond that. Same with my fiance and other men I personally know in my life. It’s just strangers I’m wary of, especially older men who don’t have filters when “complimenting” women they deem beautiful.

This chapbook expresses all of me, conveys that I can be deeply unhappy–but I’m not bitter. I’m grappling with this unhappiness I can’t even paint with words. It’s not bipolar depression. It’s situational depression about the direction my life has taken. Oftentimes I wonder if I’ll get that life back, the old me–and that is what is saddest. I feel I’ve been changed for the worst. Nighttime strikes me the hardest for unexplainable reasons. I may have to buy a nightlight. That might help.

The dream I’ve had for my job no longer exists, though I do plan to stay. My degree means little to me now, though I still try hard and want those A’s. This isn’t to say my classes are unfulfilling. They’re very fulfilling. I feel like I’ll never be able to hold down a normal, “adult” job anyway. My body, no matter what chemicals are being injected into me, simply can’t handle the stress of jobs my college-graduated friends have. This is why I’ve dropped being a teacher, working at a publishing house, even just working at a magazine or a newspaper.

I will tell you I’m not better. I’m really not as far as my existence goes, I guess. Yet, I’m not always depressed. I am simply easily triggered now. I’ve been beaten down. Sometimes I wonder if things will ever get better, or if things will just keep snowballing. Sometimes I wonder if I should just jump off this train called life and say, “Well, I’ve lived long enough. I’ve met my dreams. This life is just no longer for me.” It’s so sad to say this: unfortunately, I must keep plowing through, if not for myself, then for others. Yet, it is exhausting to live for others. Even so, if my existence changes people’s lives, then I’ll know my deep unhappiness isn’t a waste of space. I suppose it exists for a reason. Somebody has to live a sad existence, I guess. The chronically saddest people seem to create the most wonderful of things.

I hope people can grasp a sense of my true self from this chapbook, though a lot of the poems are very dark. It isn’t until you get to the last poem that there’s a little slice of hope and beauty when you’re not ready to turn on the light or see the sunrise.

The darkness isn’t innately frightening. It isn’t innately sad. One of the things I hate the most is when people think you can’t know the light without knowing the dark. Not everyone fights hard battles that follow them and warp them for the rest of their lives. We do lose loved ones to death, and that pain is incredibly real, but not everyone is burdened with a thing that can’t be fixed. To say so is a complete injustice for those who TRULY need help to get through life, people who can fully never be independent. Full independence frightens me, makes me sick to my stomach. But people know what happiness feels like. Our brain chemicals dictate so. We don’t need sadness to understand happiness. We will experience sadness, of course. It’s unavoidable. Yet, it’s silly to say, “I wouldn’t know true happiness without the sadness in my life.” I don’t like the sadness in my life. I don’t appreciate it at all. I’m not grateful for it. I’m grateful for all of my happy times, because I can fully give myself to the world. I can’t when I’m in pain. Again, I’m not bitter about my pain. I’m simply being real.

I do experiences happiness. Yet, I’ve lately experience more pain than anything else. In fact, while scrolling through my Facebook feed, I wish the worst thing I could complain about was horrendous cravings that kept me up all night, and that I went out and bought cake to sate them (true status).

I simply have no more control in my life. It seems it will never come back. No amount of soothing words will change this. And I love myself, but not life itself.

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2 comments on “Writer Thoughts Thursday: Poetry Chapbook

  1. TB2L
    April 17, 2015

    Dare I comment quickly on that interesting post ?

    we need to learn
    how not to drown
    in the ever changing
    flow
    of that vast ocean
    that is
    life.

    All the best with that project (also I really like the idea of the essay as a closure to your chapbook, poetry sometimes cannot express certain things) !

    • amberskyef
      April 17, 2015

      I’m actually doing it as a series of short essays. I’ll probably intersperse them throughout the poetry. One thing I REALLY want to do though is put a short story at the very beginning.

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