Interview by Katie Okhuysen
So you’re a St. Edward’s Alum!
I graduated from SEU in 2010 and majored in English Writing & Rhetoric.
When did you first begin writing?
I started writing in high school. At first, I just wrote in a journal to sort through all the emotions and thoughts racing through my head. I’d try to write songs and poems and really liked expressing myself that way, so I took a creative writing class and started to get into poetry. I’ve also always liked academic writing. It always came naturally, so I continued to pursue writing in college.
How do you approach writing?
As much as I want to be the writer who sits down at the same time everyday to write, no matter how good or how bad, I’m just not. I find that when I force myself to write, especially poetry, it always ends up being trash. My best poems just come naturally and when they do, I spend every day working on those until they’re finished. Since it’s currently National Poetry Writing Month, I actually am writing every day. I’m finding that it’s easier to write every day if I write late at night. Sometimes it’s worth less sleep, sometimes it’s not, but I never regret letting myself stay up to write if that’s what I need. It’s also kind of fun to see where my mind goes when I’m tired and loopy late at night.
What would you say drives you creatively?
My emotions drive me creatively. I’m not the best communicator, especially when it comes to emotions, so I use writing to express what I’m feeling when I can’t say it. Sometimes if I need a push, I’ll listen to music or scroll through my tumblr dashboard. I’ve been inspired by a lot of pictures, quotes, and poems I’ve found on there. Reading work by other poets also drives me. At the time I wrote “But If You Were To Stay,” I was reading Walt Whitman’s poetry. His work drove to me to break out of my comfort zone of writing short-and-sweet poems and write in a way that I never had before. In turn, that drove me to write about the topic of love and longing and heartbreak in a way I never had before.
Interesting that your comfort zone was initially short and sweet poems, whereas two of the poems you submitted were longer than average.
Yeah, the two longer poems are two of my favorite ones, especially “But…” Usually when I try to write long poems, I keep going longer than I need to just to give it length, and the whole point of the poem ends up getting lost. But these just sort of flowed. I didn’t try to add length. I was just done when I was done. I had to really know what I wanted to say and accomplish to do that. Not just sit down and let come what may (also my comfort zone).
I was drawn to your use of visceral imagery in both “Sacrifice” and “But..”, specifically the repeated use of body parts and violent verbs. Would you say that visceral imagery and violence are recurring themes in your work?
Visceral imagery/violence are definitely recurring themes in my work. I tend to think and act on raw emotion, and I also tend to feel emotions, especially strong ones like love, hurt, anger, anxiety etc., physically, so I guess that’s why I incorporate visceral imagery and body parts into my poems. But a lot of people feel things that way. I mean, we call it “heartbreak” for a reason. I certainly know I’ve hurt so much in that way that it literally felt like my heart was aching. To me, that’s pretty violent – to feel an emotion so strongly that you can feel it physically as well.
I also choose violent verbs for certain emotions and actions because I felt those things violently, and I want the reader to not only know how I felt but feel how I felt. Violent verbs have that strong impact.
Kaitlin Meilert holds a BA in English Writing & Rhetoric from St. Edward’s University. Her work has previously been published in theSorin Oak Review. Kaitlin currently works at a tech startup in Flagstaff, AZ but continues to explore her creative side by writing and sharing her poems on her blog, Lady in the Pines.
Photo in header by Cassidy Prince.