Poet Interview: Emily Perkovich
So, I know that I always say this but this poet that I’m about to introduce to you is amazing! Her unique style will draw you in and make you fall in love; she gives me goosebumps…honestly. She writes in such a raw and moving way that you can feel her emotions so fully and don’t even get me started on her live readings because…wow. So, without anymore rambling from me, let’s jump right in!
ReBecca: Did you always want to write? – If yes, when did you know?
Emily: I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I was in “Accelerated Reading programs” from the time I learned how to read, and as soon as I started reading, I wanted to make my own stories. I was probably around 8 when I wrote my first “book” I use that term loosely as it involved one of those blank books you can buy from school supply stores and a lot of really poorly executed drawings. I was writing little stories before that, but I remember being really proud of that book. It was about a horse that survived on candy and turned into a unicorn. I didn’t start writing poetry until I was 18 and pregnant. I was in an abusive relationship that I knew I needed to end, and I was hurting mentally and physically. Reading poetry helped a lot, and at some point during those nine months, I started writing my own.
R: That’s amazing!! I was about 8 as well and I remember my first real “book” which I wrote everyday on a website my mom had made as apart of my homeschooling was about faeries.. haha! I started writing poetry at about 14/15, honestly to deal with childhood abuse.. Funny how poetry comes in at times of sadness/pain/etc.
R: What inspires you?
E: I feel like I can be inspired by anything. The times when I am most creative have usually come from trauma or calm moments of silence. I mostly draw from my own life, but I also love reading and taking in art and culture. The majority of my fiction ends up coming from small things that jump out at me in different types of media and art or seeing every day objects that seem out of place wherever they are.
R: What are your favorite topics to write about? Why?
E: I mostly write about trauma and depression and a bit about love. But…my favorite thing to write would either be horror or fantasy. Both of them are an escape for me and far more challenging than the writing that just pops into my head without invitation. I love building up the images and worlds that come with writing horror or fantasy.
R: I love writing that helps you escape.. I’d love to read some of your fantasy work!
R: You write about a lot of important topics, eating disorders, drug abuse, mental health, etc…I love that you are so open! Do you ever feel afraid or insecure when it comes to being so open?
E: I may have felt some hesitance when I first started sharing my writing a few years ago, but now I never do. I have always wanted to be a published writer, but social media has really helped me to realize why I want that. I think there are far too many people that think because of what the majority of media and culture states that we are all going to heal one day and stop being broken. I want people to heal obviously, but I also think it is more important to learn how to be self-aware and sit with yourself even in the darkness. If I am not willing to share my darker parts with people than how could I ever expect to teach anyone else to be ok with their own?
R: I love this and I totally agree.
R: How do you feel about being apart of ending the stigma around these important issues?
E: If I can help even one person feel better about this type of stuff, then that is more important to me than publishing will ever be. To me the whole point of creating art is to heal and help others heal.
R: You say in your bio that you’re a professional trigger warning…how do you feel about trigger warnings? For them? Against them? Indifferent?
E: This is an incredibly hard question. I personally have had moments where I have felt extremely triggered by things that snuck up on me. In the same breath, however, I think it is so important to expose yourself to your triggers. I have been to so much therapy in my life, and anything that I have healed from has started with my learning to face it. It’s important to not put someone in a position that they are not ready to deal with (i.e. self harm videos, especially scarification, send my anxiety soaring, I would rather not have them sneak up on me), but I also believe that people need to start being more open to proceeding with caution rather than not proceeding at all. I don’t put them on my work because I think that people need to learn that they can handle more than they think that they can. Even if you are triggered in that moment, you can learn how to push through it. You cannot avoid all triggers, all day, every day. We should be striving to end the triggers not avoid them.
R: What does your creative process look like? When you’re writing…Music? Silence? Night? Day?
E: I have never been good about getting into a routine for writing. It usually just barges into my head like Kramer from Seinfeld and I have no option but to let it out. That being said, the environments that foster the most of this explosion of thought are usually either when I am outdoors and it is quiet except for nature or when I am driving/flying and have the music loud. I also tend to get up to grab my phone or a journal about 5 to 6 times before I fall asleep so I can dump out random thoughts spinning around in my head. I’m really bad about talking on the phone because about 70% of the time I am not listening; my mind is running wild and I am trying to decide between completely ignoring the person and writing down what I am thinking or trying to find a way to remember my thoughts for later. Basically, if I’m not talking my mind is racing with creativity.
R: I totally relate to this, haha! #writerlife…
R: Laptop, pen and paper, typewriter, phone?
E: I still prefer pen and paper to everything else, but with modern life being the busy mess that it is, most of my writing happens on my phone. I hate writing on my laptop, unless it is to organize idea (sort of like doing this interview). My phone knows my quirks and goes back and fixes my errors but leaves the strange wording that is typical in a lot of my writing which makes much less work for me when I go back through to edit.
R: What would you say is your most interesting quirk?
E: Are we talking writing or in general? Writing wise – I love marrying words. Adding hyphens to create some strange word that creates a strong mental image. In general – that list could get lengthy. I am a weird person. But something I did not realize was so rare until I was older, is that I love surprises. Most people are constantly trying to guess at things. What the end of a movie or book is going to be, where they are being taken for dinner, who their best friend or their kid is going to fall in love with. I just want to enjoy the ride. I work much better under pressure, and I think that this is probably why. I don’t like obsessing over things before hand. Just if you are going to surprise me with something be careful not to choose something I hate. Like please don’t take me to a karaoke bar. I will not be happy with you.
R: Marrying words is amazing, I love that! I’m with you on the ‘no karaoke bar’ rule!
R: Writing a book? Tell us a little about it!
E: I am always writing a book…haha. I have a few things I am working on, but the one that I think will actually be complete in the near future is a novella. The book is done, and I am about 85% through with editing. It is mostly written in prose and letters and reads like a memoir. It’s about love, and it has a realistic ending instead of a happy one or a sad one, because let’s face it, that’s my deal. I will probably end up self-publishing, but I do have a few publishers in mind to submit to.
R: Wow! That’s so exciting! I can’t wait to get my hands on that! Good luck with whatever route you go down!
R: How have your personal experiences shaped your poetry?
E: Definitely. I would say 99% of my poetry comes from personal experience. The parts that don’t come from experiences I’ve witnessed. I have had so much trauma in my life. I feel like even when I write happy (which is honestly rare) there is still something dark about it. I try to bring some sort of beauty to that darkness. I hope that I do.
R: I definitely think that you do. I truly admire your writing; I think that you are one of the realest poets I’ve read in a long time.
R: What does writing bring to you? An escape? Healing? A sense of joy and happiness?
E: Writing can definitely be an escape or a healing experience for me. I would say the best way I can describe it is that it brings me focus. I don’t always feel better after I am done. I don’t always feel like there is an end. Or like I have learned something from it. But it does always give my mind a space to dwell and organize. It’s like a forced restart.
R: When did you start doing spoken words? Is it a new thing? An always thing? You always do such an amazing job!
E: Ahhh, thank you! Honestly, I started spoken words to get more followers. I don’t use hashtags or do the whole follow for follow and like for like game. I heard other people reading my work, and it made me feel really excited, but there were also times where it fell flat for me. I wanted to be able to convey when I felt which emotions in my writing. I have had a few people say that I sound more timid when I am doing spoken word for my own writing than when I am doing my live readings for others. I have thought about that a lot because I don’t ever feel self-conscious while I am reading. I think that my writing is about all of the angsty, achy, confidence destroying things going on inside of me. So when I’m doing a spoken I want you to be able to feel that and come with me to move through that moment. Outside of all of that though, I want to reach as much of an audience as I can. If I have to show my face and read my work directly to you to do that, then that is what I am going to do.
R: Same!! I really don’t want to attract tons of people who don’t genuinely like my writing and so I don’t do follow for follow, etc.. I think that you do such an amazing job with each spoken word, you can definitely feel your emotion in the writing standing on its own but when you read it, it adds a whole never level.
R: What are some of your passions outside of writing/poetry?
E: I love photography, reading, painting, and drawing. I also started doing Tarot about 4 years ago, and that really centers me.
R: I just bought my first tarot deck and I really like it so far (as a totally newbie..haha!)
R: Any tips for new writers?
E: Yes! SO many! This is my favorite part of every interview I have ever done. If I could stress one thing to anyone doing any form of art it would be to do it every day. It isn’t always going to be good or worthy of showing to other people. You aren’t always going to write a lot or write something that you want to post. But you should do it everyday. The more you do something the better you get at it. Next would be reading. So many people write non-stop but never read anyone else’s work. Or they don’t read new types of work. Reading the classics over and over again can only teach you so much. I found my voice quite awhile ago, but I still learn and employ new techniques and styles frequently. Another huge thing is to edit. I have read soooooooo many pieces that would be amazing if the writer had just edited. When I write I read what I wrote (and I said read, not skim) multiple times. I fix spelling and grammar issues and kill my darlings. Sometimes that means I end up with something much shorter or longer than what I started with, but it is always better. And on that same thread of thought, kill your darlings. Sometimes I write something that I want to use so badly, but it is just not working. If it doesn’t work, save it for later. Don’t sacrifice the piece as a whole by overworking it. As far as if you are trying to succeed on a platform goes, I have two rules for myself. Be kind and be active. That doesn’t necessarily mean posting every day either. That means posting quality work when you have it and interacting with your community and audience regardless of if you are posting that day.
R: This is amazing advice! I agree that writing everyday is everything.
R: What you think about the Instagram Writing/Poetry community? How did you get started on Instagram?
E: There are negatives and positives. I love supporting everyone else. I love being able to show people they are not alone. It is nice to have somewhere to go to receive feedback and know that you aren’t just writing to yourself. It is also deeply flawed because so many people are not good at receiving any type of criticism and therefore it is rare to get genuine feedback. But if I rated it as a whole – I love it. I actually started writing on Prose. I only ended up posting my writing on IG because I wanted a larger audience. I know I am not going to randomly be picked up by a publisher by being on IG, but my mindset was that networking will help in the sales department if I ever am published.
R: I agree with all of this, entirely. I started writing on Tumblr and although my audience is bigger there (like insanely bigger…), there community is just not what is once was which is why I love Instagram…
R: Do you believe in writer’s block? – If yes, what would you say is the best way to work through writer’s block?
E: I believe that we all have days where the words don’t sound as good as they do on other days. They don’t fall into place as easily. But. I also think that you should write through it. I write every day even when it isn’t good. Don’t force yourself to write something you aren’t ready to write in that moment, just make sure you are writing something. I have an alarm on my phone to write at lunch time, but most of the time I have already written something by that point. I also have an alarm for bedtime to write down five things that I was grateful for throughout the day. It may not always be profound (a lot of them have to do with food or with the temperature being just right) but it always makes me feel a tiny bit more creative to use my head for that type of thinking and to write it down.
R: I love this! I do the same thing at the end of the day before bed – gratitude list…
R: Favorite book?
E: This is constantly evolving for me, but I always come back to the Harry Potter series. There are plenty of things that I think are more polished and well-written or deeper and more meaningful. But reading Harry Potter always makes me feel good.
R: Yes! I agree.. Harry Potter is special.
R: Favorite author?
E: I don’t have a good answer for this because I have such varied taste in writing. I love Chuck Palahniuk, EE Cummings, Stephen King, Michael Faudet, David Almond, and Rainbow Rowell – just to give you some variety. I honestly enjoy lyrics in music more than a lot of writers, oops. I love Jordan Dreyer of La Dispute, Laura Stevenson, Damien Wong of Set to Stun, Jesse Lacey of Brand New, and Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years and Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties.
R: A book that made you cry?
E: Oh jeez, I am not someone who cries easily at books or movies. I think most of my crying during reading has actually happened when on Instagram because there is so much raw work floating around on there. Not to mention that when you start to get to know someone it is so hard to not feel for them when they are pouring their soul out. That being said, if you want to make me cry, anything to do with kids. It doesn’t even have to be sad. If it is overly happy and to do with kids, that’ll make me cry too.
R: What is your mission?
E: I want to be a big enough voice that I can not only help people heal, but inspire people to do the same. I also really want to support other writers/artists as much as possible. I mostly just want people to know that it is ok to not be ok, and that we can all be there for each other.
R: This is a beautiful mission, truly. I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you, Emily for working with me on this interview. I truly enjoyed getting to know you better!! I think you’re amazing and I can’t wait to see what you do in the coming months/years.