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.”