I’m so happy to welcome our next poet Shelby, who released her latest collection Goddess of the Hunt this February. Shelby is really blazing her own path in poetry with this collection as she reimagines greek goddess Artemis’ navigation through her own aromanticism and asexuality. Aside from her great writing, Shelby’s honest, funny, and sweet personality shines through in this interview so take a look!
Is one of your books your favourite and why?
Depends on my mood, honestly! I feel like my books are on rotation for which one’s my
favourite at any given time. Sometimes I love them all and sometimes I hate them all. This is a wishy washy answer but IT’S THE TRUTH!!! I think it’s hard to choose because I truly put the same amount of effort and emotion and courage into all of them to make them real and to make them available so their value is completely equal to me.
Can you tell us more about the importance of representing aromanticism and asexuality in Goddess of The Hunt for the poetry community?
Yes! It was really important to me, and I hope to other people, that I represented aromanticism and asexuality so unapologetically in GoTH for many reasons. As a poet, I want to push the boundaries of what I’m writing, what’s being consumed in the modern poetic canon, and what embodies “poetry”. I don’t want people to believe that the only poetry that comes from modern poets is love and heartbreak poetry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of thematic poetry! I’ve written it in the past, and I’m going to write more of it in the future, but it’s so important to me that we explore different types of narratives and relationships in poetry (and other genres) in an effort to normalize such experiences outside of the standard heteronormative alloromantic and allosexual experience.
I wrote an aroace Artemis because I’m an aroace person who craves representation in strong, central roles, not just in side characters or characters who are mistreated and discarded in a narrative and are shown no respect for their identity. Marginalized people have very little media to consume that’s actually safe and authentic. I wanted GoTH to be a safe, powerful, uplifting book for aro/ace spec people in the poetry community, but also one that didn’t pretend that aro/ace spec people don’t face ignorance because that’s not reality. I wrote what I find to be the most comforting rep when I read it in other stories; a character who comes up against obstacles but ultimately overcomes them by knowing their own self-worth, and gaining confidence to be who they truly are, and encourage others to do the same.
Can you take us through your publishing process?
Self-publishing is such a unique process that probably looks different for everyone who does it, and my own process is far from perfected, even though I’ve gone through it 3+ times. Basically, I write the thing first. Once I have a complete manuscript (or at least approx. 80% complete manuscript- minus editing!), I reach out to an artist for a cover commission (shoutout to my most favourtie cover artist, Izza Thapa- @iz_draws on insta). The cover is super important to me because the complete freedom to make the cover exactly what you want it to be is a major privilege in publishing as a whole. Once I get the ball rolling on the cover, or maybe even at the same time as I’m doing that, I set up my new book on KDP and Goodreads (KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing- the platform I use to publish my paperbacks and ebooks). After my manuscript is written and I have the basic technical aspects set up, then I usually do a deep dive into editing.
Then I get a critique partner (or a few) involved so that I can do another round of edits based on an outside perspective because at this point, I’m probably so tired of my own manuscript and think it’s trash. After all the editing, I write the dedication and acknowledgements (always I do this last, I find these two things really hard to write!). Last thing I do (usually with the help of my sweet fellow author friend, M Hollis- @mhollis on twitter) is format my manuscript for kindle compatibility. When I first started self-publishing, the kindle aspect confused the hell out of me and it’s still the thing I’m least competent with so it’s become habit for me to leave it to the very last.
And after all that (that which doesn’t much feel like a “process” more like a jumbled mess of writing, rereading what I wrote, editing, tinkering on KDP, and leaning on the kindness and competence of my artist/publishing/author friends) I have a book ready for the world. Input all the remaining info necessary on KDP and Goodreads, and hit publish!
What makes a poem good in your opinion?
In my very own specific opinion (which is unimportant in the grand scheme of things), a poem is good if it comes from the heart and survives editing with the same vibe and intention that it began with. It’s a good poem if it expresses an emotion or relays a circumstance that I can’t personally relate to but feel moved by anyway. It’s a good poem if having gotten the words out of you gives you a sense of both peace and pride.