Poet Interview Series: S. M. Ashford
Today we are proud to chat to the wonderfully talented poet and graphic designer S. M. Ashford from the outskirts of Sydney, Australia, who has already built a rapidly growing Instagram following for herself with her beautifully written and designed poetry pieces. Her experience as a graphic designer is clear to see in her pieces, and shows how important branding is in Instagram poetry. Her debut book “Pieces of her” is being released on the 11th of August on Amazon, and we for one cannot wait to get our hands on it. S.M. Ashford is a rising Instagram poet to watch and we are eager to follow her poetry career that will take the world by storm. See below for the full interview.
Where do you live and how does it influence your writing?
On the gorgeous Hawkesbury River, near Sydney, Australia. It's a very beautiful, natural bush setting, and the tranquility offers the perfect space to concentrate on writing.
When did you first become passionate about poetry and what attracted you to it?
I first began writing poetry 6 years ago when I was living in Holland. I was attracted to the way you can share such a powerful message using so few words. I love minimalist poetry and the huge impact you can have with careful word selection.
What inspires you to write?
I am inspired by the complexity of the human psyche and am interested in connecting with my audience and finding a way to express the emotions that people sometimes can't voice themselves.
Do you publish your Poetry on any channels other than Instagram?
Instagram is the only channel I use at the moment. I prefer to focus my energy on using one medium effectively.
Who is your favorite Instapoet and why?
Rupi Kaur. She built her own name from nothing using the alluring power of her words.
Tell us about your new book.
My debut book, Pieces of Her, is being released on Amazon on August 11th 2019. It is a short poetry collection with quotes for every stage of a fast-burning relationship. There are three parts: the first represents the initial stages of excitement and intense infatuation for a person; the second captures the disintegration of a coupling and the lonely longing of un-reciprocated love; the third has messages for building yourself back up, growing stronger and moving on.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? How do you come up with poems and how do you edit them?
I always carry a notepad to jot down ideas and poems as they come to me. At the end of the day I'll polish and edit them so they are ready for publication. Sometimes I'll play with an idea for a few weeks, refining it until it is ready. Others are perfect (to me!) straight away.
Do you support yourself through writing financially, or do you have a day job and what is it?
I also work in graphic design and printing, but aim to move solely towards writing and freelance design. My graphic design background has helped me create a lovely visual aesthetic on my Instagram page.
How many hours a day do you spend writing and what helps you to get into the writing mood?
I spend about half an hour to an hour each day, scribbling down thoughts as they come to me throughout the day. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with lots of ideas, as this is when my mind is most peaceful.
And what’s the best moment you’ve had with your poetry so far?
Probably when I wrote my poem 'Soldier in the Sun' about war veterans struggling with PTSD. I was contacted by several war vets to tell me how perfectly I'd captured their feelings of estrangement, loss and sadness, and it felt really special to be able to connect with them like that.
How do you respond to writer’s block or not knowing what to write?
If I'm feeling uninspired I usually don't try to force it as I know it's not the right time and my head isn't in the right space. If I really need to write something, I will listen to music to help enhance the emotion I'm trying to channel.
What are you working on next?
My main focus is on my book's release in a few weeks. I also have a follow up book in the works.
Where would you like to see yourself in three years time.
Writing, with an audience who enjoy my work, however big or small. If you define your success through financial gain, it's very easy to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve or become discouraged. It's more important to build a good portfolio of work and a loyal following.
What is your strategy you to grow your audience?
Know your audience, have a theme and stick to it. Post once a day, at the same time every day. Make sure each post is visually gorgeous and the writing is polished. There's nothing that discourages readers more than a piece of writing that is rough around the edges.
What advice would you give young poets just starting out?
Keep trying and expressing yourself. Hard work really does pay off. It might take you a while, but the longer you stick at it, the more refined your work will become, and the more readers will begin to appreciate you.
Do you think poetry has a greater purpose?
Poetry is a very personal thing. I think people use it to feel something and to help them express their emotions. Like music, it can be very healing and a cathartic release for emotions that may not be easy to express in every day life.
Thank you S. M. Ashford for this wonderful interview. Please follow this rising poet on Instagram to see more of her amazing work and to keep up to date with the launch of her wonderful poetry collection “Pieces of her” on the 11th of August 2019. We for sure cannot wait to get our hands on the book.