Slam poet Olivia Gatwood has carved words in the shape of her resilience. With performances such as Ode To My Bitch Face and Alternate Universe in Which I Am Unfazed by the Men Who Do Not Love Me exemplifying the lithe movement of her tone, there is an extraordinary approach to the way she expresses the nuances of poetry. I had the phenomenal opportunity of interviewing her regarding the manners in which she embodies the elements of writing and how it has allowed her to flourish as both a poet and educator.
B: What made you delve into the craft of poetry?
O: “I had a lot of rage when I was young, and poetry allowed me to express that.”
B: How has being a slam poet allowed you to grow as a writer?
O: “Being on a slam team means that often you have to write poetry because you’re competing. You view poetry as a strategy and it pushes you in ways you might not have imagined. It also teaches you to hold yourself accountable towards your writing.”
B: What did you learn about yourself while writing New American Best Friend?
O: “It was really fun. A lot of people ask me if it was hard to write; it was hard in the sense that I worked on it and produced it. But I learned that my memories and stories are my best friends when I’m a writer. And I also learned that they are other people’s memories and stories.”
B: What is your creative process?
O: “Reading goes hand in hand with writing poems. I like to surround myself with books and focus on what I’m gravitating towards, paying mind to my own story. I like to work off really simplistic storytelling in the beginning and then worry about craft later. Sometimes I get stuff from a singular word an author used or different entry lines and phrasing. And when memory really nags me and I find myself thinking about it a lot, I assume there’s a poem to be made out of it so I just write.”
B: How do you communicate with your work?
O: “This is a really interesting question. I write a lot of narratives and do a lot of storytelling and work on being really simple at first and then trusting myself.”
B: What does being a poet mean to you?
O: “Being a poet, I think, has something to do with illuminating both the beauty of the mundane and enormously huge.”
Olivia’s book, New American Best Friend, is available at bookstores and online. To explore more of her biography, work, and events, you can visit her website or follow her on Twitter.