Editor’s Note: Atticus is the internationally bestselling author of Love Her Wild, his first collection of poetry. In The Dark Between Stars, Atticus delves into the dualities of life experiences and the connections between life’s highs and lows. In this poignant collection, he captures the need for both beauty and pain, for light-heartedness and deep revelations. This collection is a glimpse into the human soul, full of tragedy and promise. We had the opportunity to catch up with Atticus recently. Read on to discover his answers to our questions!
When did you first start writing poetry? What was your inspiration?
I began about 5 years ago. I was in Paris at the time and was moved by the way the city looked after it rained. I took out my phone and started writing. I decided to post what I had written on Instagram, but I knew that I wanted to do it anonymously so I could always remember to write what I feel and tell the truth.
Do you have any recommendations for people who are just starting to write poetry for the first time?
Bukowski said, “don’t try,” which, to me, means: don’t set out to write the best poem. Just write something, period, and the good will come. I believe that.
Do you have any rituals or anything special that you do while writing to get into the right mindset?
I have a little back-house/writing shack filled with things that inspire me: old books, typewriters, candles, photos, records, tobacco pipes, anything that gets me in the headspace to write. Sometimes I go back there and don’t even write, I just sit and look at pictures and read. For me, half of writing is sitting, staring at a candle, watching the flame dance, and waiting for it to tell me something profound.
While reading THE DARK BETWEEN STARS, I found myself smiling and taking great joy from the words, particularly in the stars section. How do you inject so much joy and feeling into such a short stanza?
I love writing short-form: epigrams, aphorisms, turns of phrase. I’ve always enjoyed trying to say a lot with a little. I’ll mess around with a sentence for hours, playing around with the words like a puzzle. You can change one word and completely alter the feeling the poem evokes. I love that.
The photos throughout THE DARK BETWEEN STARS are so perfect for the poetry they accompany. Did you take or pick those photos out yourself? If you picked them out, what was that process like?
Thank you. This was a long process. I really wanted the words and photos to be complimentary, to make each other more powerful. It took a lot of swapping and trading to find that synergy. The photos were done by some of my favorite photographers: Poppet Penn, Callum Gunn, Bryan Adam Castillo and Sofia Ajram, who did the cover for The Dark Between Stars.
Is there a woman in your life that is your muse?
I’ve had many muses, some real, some in my head, but Love Her Wild was largely about one person. The Dark Between Stars is about a few people who were special people in my life. I dedicated this one to my mother – she introduced to me to poetry by hiding it where I’d find it.
Do you already have your next book in the works? Can you tell us anything about it?
I have been thinking a lot about book three. Without saying too much, I want it to be completely different from the first two- a graduation. Something big. I’ve been taking poetry courses at Oxford, which has been both a humbling and exciting experience: I am humbled to be learning just how little I know and excited by how much further I can take this.
Who are some of your favorite poets?
Fitzgerald still makes me say “wow” out loud. I also love Bukowski, Frost, Plath, Thompson, Byron, Poe and Kerouac. I LOVE Kerouac.
It says in your bio that you love the ocean, the desert and whiskey. What are your favorites? (of each of those)
– Swimming in little fishing towns on the coast of Spain. I’m never really happier than I am when I’m there. It’s so salt; you can just float and look at the sky for hours.
– I love Joshua Tree. I like riding motorcycles and staying up under the stars.
– Johnnie Walker Black is called the Scotch of Kings, and it’s my favorite. My grandfather called it his Scottish wine- I love that. But a good American whiskey in the desert is incredible, too.
Atticus is a Canadian Instagram poet who keeps his identity under wraps, showing up for readings in a mask and maintaining anonymity via the internet. The Dark Between Stars is his second collection of poetry, following on the success of Love Her Wild. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram. His latest, moving collection of poems, The Dark Between Stars is available on September 4 in Half Price Books stores and online at HPB.com while supplies last.