Poet Interview Series: Amelia Musselman
We are super proud to bring you this interview with the very talented Amelia Musselman. Amelia lives in St. Albert, Canada and not only is she a very popular Instagram poet, but she is also a psychology graduate, currently studying for a Masters in Counselling. Her background in psychology and her love for writing can be witnessed in her beautiful works which are full of depth and wisdom. Amelia has completed writing her debut book titled “ All of me” which is being released next month. In this interview she shares with us her motivation and her story on becoming a rising Instagram poet and her plans for the future. See the full interview with Amelia below.
Where do you live and how does it influence your writing?
I live in a community called St. Albert, just outside of Edmonton AB in Canada. To answer skilfully as to how the place I live influences my writing is tricky. I only know the perspective I have, so I suppose only understanding a North American view of the world influences what I write about and how I write it. I live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, and I feel so blessed to say that I have the freedom to speak my mind and be heard, and put my work out there. There are so many places where women are silenced, and I have always vowed to not take my voice for granted, and speak on behalf of those who cannot.
When did you first become passionate about poetry and what attracted you to it?
When I was in elementary school, either grade 4 or 5, we read a bit of poetry as a class. I remember reading Robert Frost and falling in love with nature poetry. As I aged into adolescence my love for poetry fell by the wayside and what I was wearing and whom my friends were triumphed over my love for words.
Grade 11 rolled around, and in my English class I was re-introduced to poetry with the weight of my grade falling on the shoulders of what I wrote. I was in a lot of emotional pain during my years in school, as many teenagers are, and poetry became an outlet. But as the semester ended, poetry, once again, stopped becoming a prominent part of my life.
It wasn’t until my twentieth year of life, where poetry became a constant that never left me. I fell into a dark place, a state of profound sadness that turned to numbness. The world fell grey, and the only way I knew how to process my feelings, was to write them down.
When I was twenty-two I enrolled in my first ever poetry class. I had a few electives I was allowed to take throughout my psychology degree, so I chose poetry. My professor shaped me into a much better writer with his brutal honesty, and best intentions. I freed myself from the restrictions I subconsciously laid out for myself, and began writing exactly what was in my heart.
I am attracted to poetry because I find safety in writing. There is romance, comfort, and honesty wrapped up in words to a page, that many of us couldn’t articulate when we speak.
What inspires you to write?
My biggest inspiration is the state I’m in. I would say I write the best when I’m experiencing some sort of hardship or adversity in my life. I use poetry as an outlet to take the pain I’m in and create beautiful art. Music helps me get into the right headspace to be able to write. Specifically, music that speaks to heartbreak, and anything with an abundance of emotion. Other poetry as well. I’ll often read a poem and it’ll spark creativity within my own thoughts to write something.
Do you publish your poetry on other channels but Instagram?
I do have a website www.amwords.net, but that is more a platform for my self-love projects and a podcast my dear friend Carlie and I have called two peas in a podcast. I have a FB page as well, but I don’t post much on it, Instagram is my primary platform to publish my words.
Who is your favorite Instapoet and why?
Oh gosh it’s tough because I have a couple! The first Instapoet I came across was Atticus poetry. I love the element of secrecy he invites with not revealing who he is to the public. I love how he keeps his readers guessing, and I respect his privacy and him wanting the world to see his words without associating them with whom he is on an every day basis. Also, as a woman, I find his work empowering and encouraging. He has such talent, and respect for women.
Rupi Kaur provides a voice for taboo topics, by shedding light on the realities of abuse, trauma, and healing. I find her work to be both inspirational and honest to who she is.
Both these poets are published authors, but I still consider them Instapoets as well because they use Instagram as a platform to reach many of their readers and introduce new content.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process? How do you come up with poems and how do you edit them?
I don’t have a specific process. I don’t write in the conventional way of “sit down, write what you feel.” It has to come to me, and the state I’m in needs to be right. I wish I could write whenever I wanted, but it’s more about whenever my mind and heart catch up to one another and share what’s going on within them.
Poems just come to me. Sometimes I’ll be staring up at the sky, and think of something randomly. Or be listening to a song, reading, watching a powerful movie, or having a discussion with a friend. My mind wanders often, and much of that wander is me subconsciously thinking of words to write.
The editing process is simple for me. I just tweak the poem until I feel like the flow works. Sometimes the poem isn’t edited at all because the first draft feels right to me.
Do you support yourself through writing financially, or do you have a day job and what is it?
I graduated from the University of Alberta June 2018 with a degree in psychology. At the present moment, I work as a receptionist at a medical clinic. I am enrolled in a master of counselling program beginning in October of this year, 2019. My dream has always been to be a psychologist, however I do wish I could find financial success in writing as well. I am currently finalizing my self-published debut book, All of Me, set to come out September 2019, so we’ll see what happens with that.
How many hours a day do you spend writing and what helps you to get into the writing mood?
It depends on the day! Sometimes I’ll get lost in writing and hours will go by, and other days I don't get so much as 5 minutes to write. I prioritize writing, but life has a tendency to get in the way, so I write as much as I can. And as I stated above, music helps, but it’s really dependent on the mood I’m in and what I’m currently working through interpersonally.
And what’s the best moment you’ve had with your poetry so far?
I can narrow my answer down to four moments.
The first is when a girl messaged me and said my words were what got her through the desperation she felt after she attempted to end her life. To hear that words I wrote carried her to feel loved in the darkest moment in her life made me feel success in ways money never could.
The other moments were when three separate women came to me on different occasions and surprised me with tattoos they inked on their bodies of words I wrote. To have three women out there with my words tattooed on their bodies, is both a beautiful and validating feeling.
How do you respond to writer’s block or not knowing what to write?
I don’t try to force anything, because forced poetry doesn’t have the same emotion as authentic free poetry. I just learn to accept that I need to take a break and focus on other things. I find discussing poetry with other like-minded individuals, or reading others work can spark creativity.
What are you working on next?
Most of my creative energy is focused on my debut book, All of Me.
Where would you like to see yourself in three years time?
In three years time, if I successfully make it through, I’ll be graduating from my masters in counselling. But I also would like to have a second book out by that time. I don’t like to plan too rigidly, but those are my goals right now, and I hope they go according to plan. But I have learned that plans change, and goals shift, so I’m learning to be okay with that.
What is your strategy you to grow your audience?
I will continue to promote my work on Instagram, my website, and connect with other authors. Keep speaking truth and hope my words resonate with the readers. Educate myself in marketing, and seek advice from those who know more than I do.
What advice would you give young poets just starting out?
I still feel like I’m staring out so I’m not sure I’m in a position to give advice from the place of a seasoned writer. But I will say this. Don’t allow others to shape you and your writing into something that doesn’t feel right to you. Stay true to what’s in your heart, and stay honest. The moment we value being relatable over being honest, we lose who we are, and essentially our voice.
Do you think poetry has a greater purpose?
Yes. I believe there is so much purpose and value wrapped in words to a page. To me, I find poetry to be healing, and it gives a sense that we aren't alone in our struggles. Poetry gives voice to feelings we may be too afraid to speak aloud, and there is power in that.
Thank you Amelia for this super interesting interview. We can’t wait to see more of your powerful work and are really looking forward to the release of your book “All of me”. To follow this rising poet and see more of her wonderful work follow @amwords on Instagram or visit her website here…