Interview By: Kaitlyn Tarallo
April is National Poetry Month, so naturally we’ve been excited to dive into a good collection. One book in particular always seems to get a lot of buzz: the princess saves herself in this one. This raw collection dives into love, loss, grief, and other healing themes. Dying to know more, we got the behind-the-scenes scoop from the poet herself—Amanda Lovelace. Keep reading to see what she had to say, and find out how you could win a signed copy of her book!
What first sparked your interest in creating poetry?
AL: As someone who’s always been introverted and bookish, poetry was the first means by which I felt I could fully express myself without having to physically speak my pain. Too often, being the victim of abuse means finding comfort in the silences, even if you know those silences will eventually destroy you. Poetry was the first place where I was allowed to be as loud as I wanted to be, and it was so therapeutic that I’ve stayed loyal to it for over half my life. I remember writing poetry as young as eleven years old, but a childhood friend recently told me she remembers me writing poetry when we were just eight years old. Eventually, I shared pieces online and took part in spoken word performances at my local café, Espresso Joe’s. Now I’m lucky enough to be a published poet. I’m pretty sure poetry has always just been in my bones.
Tell us a little bit about the title of your book. It’s pretty empowering!
AL: Thank you! Going into the collection, I knew I was going to be writing the story of my life. I also knew that the story of my life wouldn’t be complete without including my love for one thing: books. There are some years where I read close to two hundred books. Stories have always been my coping mechanism for when things become too overwhelming to handle, and over the course of my life I’ve found myself wishing that I could be the strong woman protagonist of my own epic story. I needed a title that encompassed that delicate blend of fantasy and reality, and the princess saves herself in this one immediately came to mind. It was meant to be; I never questioned it once.
Is there a certain reaction that you hope to get from your readers?
AL: While I was writing princess, the target audience I had in mind was always composed of young girls and women. Through my story, I hoped that they would become empowered enough to realize that they didn’t have to wait around for someone to come and conquer their dragons and whisk them away afterwards. Well, that dream came true. Girls and young women are constantly reaching out to me to tell me how much princess inspires them. I never once expected men to be interested in my book, not because I didn’t think they should be reading a blatantly woman-driven story, but because society tells them they aren’t supposed to be. Much to my surprise, I’m frequently getting feedback from boys and men who have read my book, thanking me for opening their eyes to the grim truth of what women go through, some of them even sharing that they, too, have experienced the same traumas I write about in princess. The solidarity of people who are haunted by the same thing is something extraordinary—a magic all its own. Over time, I’ve come to realize that my reader base is composed of many different genders, and what I hope for is the same: that they draw strength from my words and learn that they are resilient enough to survive it all.
Do you have a favorite poem in this collection?
AL: Yes! Personally, my favorite poem is the one titled “i’ll be there with matches.” This poem pays homage to some of my favorite deceased women writers, including Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf. In this poem, I wonder if they’re hanging out together in the afterlife, and if they have any advice for the women who are still living.
Are there any more projects currently in the works that we can get excited about?
AL: At the present, I’m working on my second poetry collection. It’s titled the witch doesn’t burn in this one and, as of right now, it’s set to be released in early 2018. I consider it to be a companion to my first collection, the princess saves herself in this one, and #2 in the women are some kind of magic series. Like princess, witch has a mix of reality and fantasy elements. However, while princess conveys the story of my life and ends with light touches of my feminist beliefs, witch delves much deeper, exploring what it means to be a woman living in a patriarchal society where women are (figuratively) burned at the stake from the time they are born. I hope that sounds exciting!
We’ve read that you’re about to graduate college in May! As a fellow student, what advice would you give to our readers about finding their passion?
AL: Yes—I’ll be graduating from Kean University with my BA in English with a minor in sociology! My advice to students is to do the thing you’re the most passionate about, even if it’s the thing you’re the most afraid to do. THAT is the thing you were meant to do. Go chase it before it gets too far. This, right here, is your official sign.
POETRY MONTH INSTAGRAM SWEEPSTAKES
You could win a signed copy of “a princess saves herself in this one” and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card! Check out our Instagram and follow the on-screen entry instructions.
Official rules here.