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S.L Gray is a poet and author. Her book is on Amazon at Skin, Bones, and Too Much Love.
Her honesty in her answers is something to be admired in an artist and in a human being. I asked her to let me interview her after reading her poetry and following her for a few weeks. I had to know more about her words, where they came from, what her spark was, and what makes her wheels go round and what breaks her.
Each interview I do, I come back with some piece of a puzzle I have been looking for, and this one was no exception.
Belle Denke: Why do you write poetry as opposed to other art forms?
S. L. Gray: I've always described myself as someone who lets feelings in and won't let them back out. I found that through writing poetry, whatever feelings I didn't want to feel anymore would go on their own.
Has there ever been a time or instance where you felt that you couldn't get your feelings out through writing?
Absolutely. My Dad passed away when I was 15 and when I started I tried to write about how it's affected me but the poems always come up short and unfinished. I'm 22 now and I don't think I will finish any of those poems.
What was probably the thing you have written most about?
I've written the most about heartbreak even though I am rarely heartbroken. I just find that there is multiple ways to express and write about that emotion. Whenever I share a poem about it, someone will comment or message me and say they relate to it and it's helped them in a way. It isn't true for me, but it is for someone else.
Have you ever written a poem specifically for someone you know, such as a friend or lover? If so, which one?
Yes, the poem is "I have not forgotten you. I can still feel everything that I've ever felt for you, but it breathes easier in me as if it has all gone into quiet slumber to rest until you return to wake them." Whenever I come across it or decide to share it again, I see that person's face.
Was there any obstacle or event that kind of hindered your writing besides your father?
I doubt myself a lot. Every now and then I'll feel like what I'm writing isn't good and it always keeps any good ideas out of reach. I always go back and read some of my favorites that I've written or read another poet that gives me inspiration to snap myself out of it.
Do you have a favorite moment or something that happened regarding your poetry that just really touched you. If you do, what is it?
So far I've had two women get my poem, "I have late night conversations with the moon, he tells me about the sun and I tell him about you," tattooed on them and I'm still blown away by that. It's touching to know that they've connected with it in a way that they want to remember it forever.
Advice for young poets?
Write about what you love. Don't let what others think determine what you should be writing. Your writing may not be understood by everyone but that is completely okay.
Advice for your young poet self?
I would give my younger self the same advice.
What has been your greatest inspiration?
My own personal experiences are my greatest inspiration. I never try and write something I haven't experienced.
Was there an event or someone that discouraged you from writing ever?
No, I'm lucky to have an incredible family that will support anything I do. I haven't shared anything that I have written with them but I know they would be supportive. I've only had a couple of people that didn't agree with something that I had written but I haven't let that discourage me.
What is your favorite piece and why?
My favorite piece that I have written is called "If You're Going To Call Me Beautiful." It's about wanting what I am on the inside to be known over what I am over what I am on the outside. I don't want someone to want me because they find me attractive. I think personality and kindness is what matters most.
If you could give a piece to your father specifically, which one would it be?
There is a simple poem I wrote a while ago that says I think about the time I've lost with him and how I pray that one day we can pick up where we left off. I would give that one to him.
What is your goal for writing business wise and creative wise?
I haven't looked at my writing business wise, I try not to take it too seriously because for me it takes the pleasure out of it. Creative wise though, I don't think my writing is the best it can be yet so my goal is to keep learning about poetry so I can better my own.
Has there been a person or thing or experience that just really shaped your writing in this style?
There was a person that did steer me into the style that I write in. I couldn't write about heartbreak and love if I hadn't felt it before.
If you could leave a poem to a young poet, which one would it be?
There's nothing of my own yet that I would leave them but there is a great Andy Warhol quote that says, "Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide whether it's good or bad. Whether they hate or love it. While they are deciding, make even more art." I come back to that one every now and then so I would suggest that one.