What’s up, folks? I’m here to bring you an amazing post I’m so very happy about! My wonderful friend and penpal, Allison has just published her second poetry book, AND OH MY PLEASE HELP ME. I’m going to be fangirling the whole entire post. Which doesn’t make a good review post, but you know….
When the book is as good as Allison’s, it’s okay. XD
So, to begin, I am interviewing the lovely and talented Allison herself. *is very honored* Let’s dive in!
Why did you name this book “Spark”?
Well, my wonderful beta readers and I stewed over title ideas for quite some time, trying to pick out a single word or phrase from one of my poems that would serve well as the name of the book. My friend Aria thought of “catching sparks,” and then I shortened it to “Spark” to parallel the single-word title of “Unfurling.” I felt like the actual poem, “Spark,” encapsulates one of the themes of the book: intentionally chasing wonder and light in a dark world.
What inspired you to write “Love, Assorted”?
A writing contest, actually! I forget what it was called, but I believe the challenge was to write a poem or story around the theme of “waste” in something like 50 words. I didn’t win the contest, but I liked the concept enough to expand on it a bit and turn it into a more finished poem.
Did you have a certain person you were writing “Tears” to, or no?
Yes, I did. I often have one person or another in mind when I write poetry about people or people’s experiences. This poem was inspired by one of my friends, but also by the general fact that people prefer to wear a fake smile than cry real tears, even in front of their friends.
How long did it take you to write “Blind Colors”?
I wrote the first three color poems in a letter to my friend Charis. I’m not sure when I added the rest of them, but it didn’t take overly long to come up with each one. I enjoyed composing those!
What inspired the poem “Spark”?
1) The memory of catching fireflies at our old farm with some of our dear friends, running around under the stars in our big yard while the adults sat and chatted together. 2) More personally, the desire I have to be always full of wonder – grateful and in awe of the beauty God blesses me with each day. I think the older we get and the more “mature” and busy we are, the more likely we are to discard wonder for skepticism, beauty for practicality, and awe for indifference. If that’s what growing up means, I don’t want to do it!
“Falling Behind” has such a strong story. What does the poem mean to you?
It has such a strong story because, again, it was inspired by the true story of a friend. Any time I write about one person, though, it makes me more empathetic to people at large; when I focus on a trait or characteristic in one person, I begin to see it as a pattern woven through humans in general. So this poem, to me, conveys the tension between independence or being self-sufficient, and needing people, needing love. I believe women especially are made for relationship, and therefore loneliness or being deserted can be one of our biggest fears. I purposely didn’t resolve the story or give “answers” in the poem, because it’s meant to make you think for yourself, to remind you that everyone longs to be loved, whether they seem fine on their own or not.
“Oxygen” is a strong and touching poem. Is there a story behind it?
Actually, that is one of the few poems not necessarily inspired by a real story or person. I just made it up. But of course, writers never just “make up” stories out of nothing, unless the writer is God! “Oxygen” comes from a thousand stories of parents, grandparents, and friends who lived through it themselves.
Who are the “wendys” in “Shadow Girl”?
The term “wendys” in this poem is obviously a nod to Peter Pan. The wendys in the poem are the bright lights, the life of the party, the girls and boys who sparkle in the spotlight as opposed the shy “shadow girl” narrating the poem. I can relate to both sides. One kind of person is not more valuable than the other: God has made people beautifully different for a reason, and the quiet, compassionate ones are sometimes the people who help “anchor down” the wendys of the world.
The pain in “Ephemeral” is evident. Is it written from experience in your own life, or from observing someone else’s?
It’s… sort of from my own experience? The narrator is imagined, but I can definitely relate to the person he’s addressing because she’s a lot like me. I think, like her, I would be a confusing person to love because sometimes I’m more “laughing and reckless,” and sometimes I’m
a solemn, quiet girl
who gazes at invisibility
with starry eyes
and grasps with a terrible hunger
for things she cannot reach.
Sometimes I’m the narrator and the girl at once…
When you wrote this book, did you have a certain reader in mind?
Well, I wrote this book for my grandmother’s birthday, like I did with Unfurling. But this year, with a little more experience in selling books to other people, I had more than one reader in mind. I want to touch the ones who are searching for something more than the skin of things. Some people are just not going to like this book – and that’s perfectly fine! Really. But at the same time, I hope I can encourage people to give poetry another chance and show them that it doesn’t have to be weird or confusing, but rather that it’s a beautiful art of authenticity and restraint that often goes deeper than prose can. I want to encourage my readers that going deeper might be scary, yes, but it is worth it.
What is your favorite poem in the book?
Oh goodness. Do I have to pick one? XD There are so many different kinds and “genres” of poems in this book that it’s hard to single one out from the rest, but one that’s really important to me is “tears.” I hate crying because I do it way too often, usually for no good reason. But the Lord says in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” That’s one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible because I am so, so weak – and that makes me all the more grateful that my Savior is so, so strong! When God washes away “the rainbow sand / under your feet,” we have to realize that He’s given us another chance to show the world the Rock we cling to, high above the waves.
Like I said before, this poem book is about chasing wonder; it is also about having the courage to be weak, to unlock your heart, and to love others in our best imitation of the overwhelming love the King of the world has for us, a love that knows us better than we know ourselves, and one that will never desert us or leave us alone.
Allison Beery is a Christian teen with a passion for creating and capturing beauty, whether it’s through writing, art, photography, or taking a walk in the woods. She lives on a big farm in Central Virginia with her parents, four siblings, and a multitude of pets. She strives to glorify God in everything and love people genuinely. Learn more about her at her blog, A Farm Girl’s Life, or stalk her art Instagram @thecolorboxstudio.
Now for the review. *takes a moment to calm down so that I’m not just fangirling this whole time* I’ll be honest, I don’t enjoy reading poetry on blogs, and so I hadn’t read very many of Allison’s poems before getting her book. But goodness! Her style is superb, her poems profound, and yet at the same time, easy to read and understand.
And the illustrations? Adorable, sweet, and whimsical, they add to the poems instead of subtract to them, and have their own type of charm.
Also, for all of those poetry haters, Allison’s poems remind me more of someone’s thoughts instead of an actual poem. It’s personal and beautiful, full of truth and integrity. All together, this book is 100% something that you should ask for as a Christmas gift, or splurge and get for yourself.
Allison @ A Farm Girl’s Life – Blog Tour Kickoff, Author’s Intro, + Giveaway Begins
October 26 (Saturday)
Aria @ Aria Lisette – Book Review
October 27 (Sunday)
Amie @ Crazy A – Book Review, Author Interview, Poem Snippets
October 28 (Monday)
Jo @ Pananaw – Review, Snippets, and Author Interview with a slight twist 😉
October 29 (Tuesday)
Sam @ The Chocolate Box – Book Review & Poem Snippets
October 30 (Wednesday)
Megan @ A Barefoot Gal – Mini Book Review
November 1 (Friday)
Hannah @ The Striped Plaid – Book Review & Poem Snippets
November 2 (Saturday)
Charis @ Charis Rae – Mini Book Review & Instagram Q&A
November 3 (Sunday)
Heather @ The Frozen Library – Author Interview
November 4 (Monday)
Clara @ Clara & Co – Book Review & Author Interview
November 5 (Tuesday)
Allison @ A Farm Girl’s Life – Blog Tour Wrap-Up + Giveaway Winners!
*lets out a deep breath* SEE? Now, please leave this post, enter the giveaway that Allison is hosting on her blog, and if you don’t win, BUY HER BOOK.
Comment down below your favorite type of poetry. I love poets and different kinds of things to read.