Our interview correspondent, Fatemeh Mirjalili, interviewed popular teen poet Adriana Agallo. Adriana is from Canada, and has been a Tumblr poet for a while now. She has some inspiring advice for fellow readers and writers! You can read the conversation below:
Fatemeh: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Adriana: Hello! My name is Adriana Gallo or Ade, for short. I am 18 years old and live in Ontario, Canada! I’m currently studying Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, and I’m going into my second year in the fall. As you already know, I have a passion for writing, specifically poetry. It is my way of keeping certain moments alive. It also acts as a release in times of need. I like to think of it as a healthy coping mechanism. All I ever want to do is help people, and I believe kind words have the power to impact others greatly, so I try my best to reach out when I can. All in all, I’m simply a human being trying my best to find my way in this crazy, wonderful world!
Fatemeh: What books/magazines/newspapers of you enjoy reading? And why?
Adriana: Honestly, I’ll read anything I can get my hands on. Lately, I’ve been more into poetry and have been reading poetry books. I recently read Our Numbered Days by Neil Hilborn and it spoke to me on so many levels. Another one that I love is Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson. It is a series of short poems and they are all absolutely beautiful! Poetry books, and reading other people’s poetry inspires me to write more! I enjoy reading whenever I can because I believe it strengthens my vocabulary and expands my mind, allowing me to become an even better writer!
Fatemeh: If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
Adriana: There’s one thing in particular that I wish I had done when I was little and I’m going to try to implement it in my life now because I think it will help me as a writer regardless. When I was younger I wish I kept a dream journal. When you wake up from a dream, you tend to forget the majority of that dream. Since I’m fascinated with minds, I wish I had kept a dream journal when I was younger and wrote down all of the details from the weird dreams that I had, that way I could turn it into creative writing! I think it would be interesting because I could bring subconscious thoughts to life!
Fatemeh: Do you think someone can be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Adriana: From my writing experience, the ability to feel emotions strongly plays a huge factor. I don’t think I would be able to be a writer if I didn’t. However, I’m not going to firmly say no because I’m sure there are people who can write, even without this trait. I’m not sure, so I’ll speak from what I know. What I know is that writing, specifically poetry, comes from a deep place within the writer’s heart and mind, and even deeper into the soul. Personally, I contain empathy that allows me to feel other people’s pain as if it were my own. This trait allows me to write from others’ perspectives because I deeply feel their emotions. A lot of my writing is a result of darker times when I felt a deep form of sadness. Sometimes though, I am overwhelmed with a sense of happiness and I write about that too because I am able to feel both extremes powerfully. I couldn’t be a writer without this, but I’m curious to know if others can. I’m not going to be completely close-minded and say no without being fully aware, but I believe for the most part this trait is common within writers, for it is what leads people to write initially.
Fatemeh: How has the Tumblr poet experience been?
Adriana: I’ve only sent in a short poem and then some quotes from some of my other poems to WNQ writers on tumblr and they’ve posted them. I remember the first poem I ever sent in received over 5000 notes. It was a really humbling experience. At that time too, no one, not even my best friends knew I was a writer, so I had to sit in my room to myself and take in the feeling that other people read my writing and it spoke to that many people.
The most recent quote that I sent in to WNQ is currently at about 15,000 notes which is mind blowing to me. I’m thankful to have a space where I can send writing if I feel the need to, and I’m very blessed for the responses that I have received. There is a comforting feeling that comes with being a poet on Tumblr too. People that I know probably have tumblr but none follow me, so it is complete strangers reading my writing and relating to it, which gives me a great sense of happiness and allows me to be my real self.
Fatemeh: Do you believe in writer’s block? Do you experience it often?
Adriana: Yes, I do believe in it, and unfortunately it happens sometimes. I wouldn’t say often but sometimes when I feel like writing, I can’t get an idea of what to write about. Other times, I have an idea but the words just don’t flow like I’d want them to. It can be frustrating at times, but I usually just take a break and when I try again a bit later, all is well!
Fatemeh: What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel? Why?
Adriana: One of my favourite novels is Looking for Alaska by John Green. It isn’t necessarily under-appreciated, but it doesn’t have as much recognition as The Fault In Our Stars and Paper Towns since they have been turned into movies. It teaches about spreading love. One of my favourite quotes from this novel is “The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive”. It teaches to allow your heart the peace that accompanies forgiveness to move on and not be stuck in a dead end. I think everyone should read this novel. It is written beautifully and has so many key messages. I’m very thankful for it.
Fatemeh: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Adriana: I would tell my younger self to not be afraid. I’m only 18, so I still live in fear sometimes but I believe it is so important to not let it hold you back. Writing was the one thing I had to myself. I never told anyone that I wrote poetry. I was scared. Poetry is so raw and sacred and makes you feel vulnerable and exposed. I was worried about people knowing me like that. In short, I’d tell my younger self to be proud of who I am and not let the fear overpower the real me and my passions.
Fatemeh: What does literary success look like to you?
Adriana: Literary success is having my words speak to people on a level that helps them. It doesn’t even have to be a large number of people. If I can impact one person with my words, that is success to me. I write from my heart, so my writing is a huge part of who I am and if other people are able to relate to and understand this, it will make me extremely happy and at peace. I want to inspire people. I want to lift people’s spirits and give them different perspectives. I can only hope my writing will do that for people.
Fatemeh: Do you have any advice for young, aspiring writers?
Adriana: Don’t give up. If writing is something you’re passionate about, keep working at it. Writing will help you understand yourself in a way you didn’t think you could. If you’re struggling with self-doubt, remember that who you are is something no one can take from you. It is so important to stay true to who you are, and if writing is a big part of you then letting it go for the fear of being judged by others will be a huge regret. If you’re struggling with what to write about, go somewhere different. Change scenery. Explore different places and you will be exploring yourself at the same time. Sometimes a new place can give you even the slightest bit of inspiration to write something new. Create experiences and special moments not only with other people but with yourself. Allow yourself some time to just think and reflect on who you are and what you’re thankful for. Finally, always be thankful and appreciate this life that you were given because you are important and your words mean everything. Don’t keep them hidden. If you can’t speak them, write them down. Let people read them.