#PoeticPerspective With Author Shaye Baker

The Smart Cookie: Shaye, thanks for joining me today. What was the moment you realized you should use poetry to share your story?

S Baker: Thank you. I was in the process of writing a full-length horror novel when my life became its own horror story. I received a world-shattering phone call that my brother died in a car accident. It was sudden, like the snap-of-the-finger. The only platform I had to share my thoughts was, sadly, a journal. I’m an introvert, and don’t do well with a lot of social activity. Poetry allowed me to express everything I was feeling, processing.

The Smart Cookie: What inspires the ideas behind the poems you write?

S.Baker: My brother lived and worked as a musician; he’s a brilliant pianist. He travelled the world, playing for Holland Airlines B. B. King band. When he passed away, I realized how great his impact on this earth was, and wrote my poems to leave my own legacy. He may be physically gone, but his presence, art, photos, memories, are very much alive, fossilized within the people he loved.

The Smart Cookie: Outside of poetry, would you ever consider writing a memoir to share your full story? 

I toyed with the idea, in my full-length horror novel there are striking resemblances. I would consider it. 

The Smart Cookie: Has writing this collection helped you find peace despite the tragedy?

S. Baker: It has, you couldn’t imagine what this collection has meant to my family and I. So. Yes, it has been cathartic. Great question, by the way

The Smart Cookie: What is a Cerebral Fossil?

S. Baker: Another great question. So. A fossil is any trace or remains of any once living thing. Cerebral Fossil is the memories, art, thoughts, poetry, books, text messages, love notes, social media posts etc. left behind by any once living being. It’s deeper than that, but I’m okay with my concept inspiring personal interpretations for others. 

The Smart Cookie: Any advice for anyone who resonates with this collection?

S. Baker: Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel and don’t stop yourself from seeing where those feelings take you.  If your feelings lead to calling your brother or sister in the middle of night and saying “I love you,” then do it. I’m an introvert, and I don’t always pick up the phone or reach out to people because social settings drain me. Still, I wish I could go back and do more. I am doing more now.

#PoeticPerspective With Best-Selling Poet Molly S. Hillery

Today, my guest of this new series is Molly S. Hillery Best-Selling Author of Bare Roots and Recently Released Follow-up collection The Medicine That Burns.

The Smart Cookie: Molly, Thank you for joining me today. Any writer would definitely agree that the act and art of writing is in itself very cathartic. What was the moment you realized you should write poetry to share your story?

Molly: That’s a great question! I have always wanted to become an author and I always loved journaling and writing as a child. After what I went through in my teen years, I really felt like sharing my perspective. I didn’t write for fame or fortune, it was just special to me to be able to share my story and fulfill my dream of publishing.

The Smart Cookie: You write about real human struggles related to trauma and mental illness. What inspires your ideas for poems?

Molly: All of my poems come from my own experience and perspective. A lot of the poems I wrote in bare roots were inspired by blogs I had published in early 2015, that I fit together into a cohesive narrative. Many of the poems in The Medicine That Burns were written in first-person perspective from journals and many were written following therapy sessions.

The Smart Cookie: Outside of poetry, would you ever consider writing a memoir to share your full story?

Molly: I think in their own way, both of my collections are a memoir. They are just more stylized and easier to digest, in my opinion. Readers who have read both books will have a pretty solid idea on what I have been through throughout my life!

The Smart Cookie: I think in their own way, both of my collections are a memoir. They are just more stylized and easier to digest, in my opinion. Readers who have read both books will have a pretty solid idea on what I have been through throughout my life!

Molly: On the good days, I feel creative and enjoy writing and being artistic, like painting and collaging. I love to just relax and unwind after a full workday, so the normal Netflix, snuggling with my dog, and talking to friends on the internet works for me! I also spend a lot of time with my family these days, which has been a nice change of pace. My nephew will be three this summer!

The Smart Cookie: Bare Roots and your upcoming release Medicine That Burns share similar truths about the after effects of trauma and traumatic experiences but Bare Roots uses a resilient view while Medicine that Burns is darker, raw, and emotive. What was the writing process like for each book, and which one to you felt like more of a release than anything?

Molly: The writing processes for both books were very, very different. I wrote, edited, and published bare roots in four months. I worked on it almost addictively; my husband and I were going through a rough time and I almost used writing the book as a safe haven/escape. My perspective on life really changed after my divorce; Four years passed between the two books and I lived a lot of life in between then. I started writing The Medicine That Burns in quarantine last year when I was on furlough from work. This process was a lot slower, and I took my time with it. 

The Smart Cookie: What are your final words to those who are broken and bruised, and resonate with your poetry?

Molly: It sounds cliche but, that you are not alone, and that there is hope. I also really encourage people with trauma to continue to seek out appropriate treatment, because seeking the wrong kind of care can make things worse. At the end of The Medicine That Burns, I share some modalities of therapy that have helped me– I even had a medical procedure done to aid in symptoms. I want to share these with people in hopes that they can find relief in some of their symptoms, too. Trauma informed care is essential to recovery.

To find out more about Molly and her poetry, visit mollyhillery.com