Following the release of our anthology,?We Run Through The Dark Together, we?decided to interview a handful of its featured writers in order to get to know them and their?work better. In this interview, we speak to Kaitlyn Crow, author?of Thoughts for the Sick Boy, from the Sick Girl, about the universe and more.
What made you decide to use cosmic imagery throughout Thoughts for the Sick Boy, from the Sick Girl?
Thoughts for the Sick Boy, from the Sick Girl touches on a lot of uncertainties and concerns that people experience when they’re going through hard times. I feel like the universe helps define those uncertainties through metaphor – the universe is so big, and we are so small; when we relate our issues to qualities of the universe, it helps to make them real to other people who don’t know exactly what we’re going through. It is often hard for people to understand things they don’t experience themselves, but relating issues like mental health to topics that everyone understands the context of helps people relate to them. Often, cosmic imagery is used to touch on topics of mortality – I feel like everyone has had that moment when they’ve looked up at the stars and thought about how small they are. I love using cosmic imagery in my poetry because it is a way to give the topic I’m writing about universal meaning.
Everyone interprets poetry differently, but is there a particular message about mental health that you hope readers take away from your poem?
Poetry, like all forms of writing, belongs to the reader. I place whatever meaning I want on my poems while I’m writing them, but as soon as they’re out there in the world, my readers will interpret them in whatever way is most helpful to them.?I purposefully left the relationship between the girl and the boy in my poem ambiguous; it could be between lovers, and it could be between friends. The lines “…we make dying young / a team effort…” come from a direct quote my friend said to me, while we were both going through some health problems, but I want anyone who reads this poem to be able to match the sentiments to any relationship they have in their lives. In regards to that relationship, I hope my readers take from this poem the idea of compassion: the speaker in the poem obviously feels an intense amount of compassion for this boy she’s speaking to. However, I also want my readers to recognise that it’s okay to let people go. At the end of Thoughts for the Sick Boy, from the Sick Girl, the speaker talks about how she wonders how long it will be before she and the boy find other ways to spend their time – in other words, how long before they grow apart and don’t need each other anymore. I’ve found that this happens, sometimes – the people you go through hell and back with are not always the people who stay close to you in the end. I want my readers to know that this is normal, and that it’s okay to look at that relationship wistfully, but I also want them to know that they will always have a special bond with that person, even if they are not fully in each other’s lives anymore.
Free verse poetry is a brilliant form for conveying the uncertainty and chaos that mental health problems can cause. Is this the form you prefer to write in?
I definitely prefer to write free verse poetry over anything else. There’s a lot of opportunity to use white space to show the emotion around the words – most of the time, the positioning and breaks of a line of poetry are just as important as the words the line is comprised of. For example, the third line in my poem Thoughts for the Sick Boy, from the Sick Girl is simply “No,” and putting that word on its own makes it stand out from the rest of the poem – it is meant to be read like a hammer coming down before the rest of the poem.
Has writing about your experiences with your mental health been a cathartic experience?
I’ve been a storyteller since I was able to tell stories – even when I was a toddler, I would draw pictures and narrate them to my family members. However, I didn’t start writing about mental health until I was in high school. I spent a few months in a mental health facility when I was a freshman, and they encouraged journaling as a way to express our emotions in a constructive way. Eventually, that grew to writing poems and stories. Not only is writing about my mental health cathartic to me, but I enjoy, and am incredibly grateful for, the opportunity to share my words with others, in the hope they will realise, as I did, that we are not alone in this world.
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