The latest episode of The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast features an interview with Morgan Liphart. Morgan’s contemporary poetry has appeared in anthologies and journals across the United States and England, such as the University of Oxford’s Literary Imagination, The Comstock Review, and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her work reflects on experiences and circumstances that she believes can connect us all, no matter our differences. Morgan’s debut poetry chapbook, Barefoot and Running topped several bestselling lists and has brought healing and comfort to readers worldwide. The full interview is available on all major podcast streaming services and includes Morgan reading and discussing a poem.
James Morehead: When were you first introduced to poetry, and when did writing poetry no longer feel like a homework assignment and become a passion?
Morgan Liphart: “That’s a great question. First off, thank you for reading my book, I really appreciate it. Poetry has been a lifelong passion for me, it’s never felt like homework. As a little kid growing up in Byron. Illinois. I would write big stacks of notebooks, full of poetry. And of course, it was a little bit juvenile, like ‘roses are red, violets are blue’, trying to do rhyming schemes, and heavily influenced by Alanis Morissette! It’s just something that I’ve always felt compelled to create from a very young age. As I grew older, studied more of the classics, and really got into the culture of poetry, my writing style changed and matured.”
James: That’s terrific. A lot of students, unfortunately, are turned off poetry because of their initial experience. Getting a poem placed in a journal or published in a book, both of which you’ve accomplished, doesn’t happen without a lot of rejections along the way. What have you learned about managing rejection as a poet?
Morgan: “Rejection Is part of the industry. It’s an incredibly vulnerable act to create a poem, and even more vulnerable to submit it. It does sting a little every time you’re rejected, every time you get that letter back that says, we’re not going with your piece.
“It does sting a little even after it’s happened 200 times, but you just have to keep going, to keep searching for that yes. Being vulnerable can hurt, but without that vulnerability, there’s no beauty, there’s no joy, there’s no connection with others. When you’re writing something that’s true and that’s beautiful for you, and when it is eventually published, others will read it and they will feel less alone, and then you will feel less alone through that act of publishing.
“You just have to keep fighting for your dream of getting a poem in a certain magazine. You just have to keep trying and that’s the only trick to it. The only trick is to be tenacious and to just keep going for it.”
James: Your book Barefoot & Running is so personal and intimate. How did working through these memories and images affect you as you were writing them?
Morgani: “Oh, boy. It is very intimate, very vulnerable. I wrote the book with a story arc that mirrors my own life. I grew up in Illinois and then moved out to Colorado in my early 20s. I packed my bags and left everything behind and started completely fresh, completely new. I didn’t know anybody in Colorado.
“And through this move, I discovered that you’re able to heal your past and let go of it and start again. That’s why this book was so emotional and healing and therapeutic for me to write because I was able to create that story arc and work through, and acknowledge and process, the tough things in order to come out on the other side a more healed person.
“It was very intimate, very intense. I had a ‘vulnerability hangover’ the day after the book was published. I thought, ‘this was a huge mistake!’, but of course, it wasn’t. That was just a moment of panic because there is just so much truth packed into this book.
“I knew at the end of the day, the message that anything can be healed, and that there is beauty If you take a moment to stop and appreciate the beauty and how far you’ve come, that message was more important than me being scared that my friends and family would read this book.
James: How did you approach turning a selection of poems into a coherent book?
Morgan: “What I did was create a huge stack of all my poems that have ever been published, and the poems I really believed in, and printed them out and spread them all over my room.
“I shifted the pages around, plucked poems that had a certain theme, and then just whittled down to create a story arc. I have a huge body of work and poems with different themes, different styles, but for this chapbook I did want to tell a story and have a message.”
James: What have you learned about self-publishing a book that you wish you’d known before you started this journey?
Morgan: “It’s so much hard work, but it’s absolutely worth it. It is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done because you’re essentially going out and trying to do this thing and you have no idea how to do it. You don’t know how to sell the books, you have to Google everything, and every step of the way, it’s like you’re just walking through the dark because you don’t know what’s next. It’s so fulfilling that I self-published, and it’s so fulfilling that the finished product, the cover, the poem choices, the marketing message, everything is something that I created, and it’s something that I believe in.
“If you go with anything from a smaller press to a larger press, you don’t have control over all of those decisions. You’re giving your creative work up to somebody else. With self-publishing, the beauty is all of that is yours. But also the hard aspect is all of that is yours. You have to figure out how to do it all. So I wish I just knew going in how time-consuming and tough it would be, but I would still have done it.”
The rest of the interview with Morgan Liphart can be heard on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast.
Interested in appearing on The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast? Submit your poetry for consideration: https://viewlesswings.submittable.com/.