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Hi, I'm Jen Landis, founder of Pincurl Girls and this is the GIRLBRAVE podcast. Today. I'm excited to talk to Emily, a slam poet from Utah. Emily started writing poetry as a way to get her feelings out. She competes in local slam poetry competitions and has learned so many life lessons because of it. Let's hop on and meet Emily.
Hi, Emily, how are you today?
I'm doing well. How are you?
Really good. Thank you. Thanks so much for being here.
How old are you and what grade are you going to be in next year?
I am 16 and, and I'm going to be in 11th grade a junior. So pretty exciting.
That it's very exciting. I read on your Instagram post a while back, maybe a few months, maybe six months, a poem that you wrote. And if I remember correctly, you weren't sure if you wanted to post it or not. How long have you been writing poetry?
I think it's been now since, maybe since eighth grade, when I started writing, getting more into the slam poetry scene, like, well, you know, as kids, right, those haikus that they make us do in like classes and stuff. But I think in eighth grade I started writing for fun and that's where it really just,you know, kickstarted and started developing into more of a hobby or interest of mine than just a little thing.
For those of us who don't know, what's the difference between slam poetry and just regular poetry?
So slam poetry is performance poetry. At least there's a few different types of poetry, but the two main types are what I call paper poetry or paper poems, which is poem poetry. That's mostly made for paper, meant to stay on paper and then slam poetry and performance poetry, which is meant to be spoken out loud and performed instead of just read.
So you do slam poetry?
I do. I also do some paper poetry, but slam poetry is my my focus, my main focus.
Do you have a poem right now? Just off the top of your head that you could share?
Yes, actually. Let me, let me open up my documents and find what I have. I do think I have something that'd be great.
I would love that this poem is about kind of figuring out who you are, in terms of what you like and how you feel. And I'm kind of feeling pressure. If you've ever felt pressured to conform or like shifts to a mold of what you should be wearing or how you should be acting or what you should look like. And it's it's a very personal poem for me and it's but I think it's something that really needs to be heard. So this poem is called Fit In:
Her pale skin
Her curly hair
Her fat uncontainable body at which everyone seems to stare
Her squirrel like cheeks
The way her breath smells when she speaks
The hair on her legs
And her untamable personality that absolutely no one needs.
That's what they would say about me
My personal style was controlled by those who wanted nothing about it what I wanted to own
The pink took over my closet my floors and my room
The makeup stains of yesterday covered my bedsheets in doom
A gallery of things I didn't want to be covered my arms, my skin, my everything
And I felt the gloom permeate into my heart and it left a scar an ugly wound a big old mark
And I learned to fear the mirror andI got used to the feeling of a different skin
A different style
And I learned to try to fit in
But fitting in was no longer enough
It changed everyday the trends seemed to fade and were replaced with new ones for only a day.
And I learned to take the teasing the hurting and the words
I learned to take the new way how my skin felt on my now hollowed bones
And I tried what I could and I tried to be thin like all the other girls
But I could never win
Because my genetics never changed and my hair never straightened
And I learned to hate the way of how my heart felt in my chest
And I learned that I was valued on the size of my breasts
And I gave up and It hurt and I tried to let them winI let myself be tossed into that painful lions denBut I don't wanna live like that.
So I tossed out all my makeup and wore the clothes
I won't let myself be valued on what the others thought
I let my hair be wild and my squirrel fat cheeks stay
And I threw my stupid attitude and everyone else's out the way
I wore vintage and stained tee shirts
I wore hoodies and suit coats
And I forgot about the words that all the others wrote
I learned how to say "screw you" to the critics they had to say
I learned how to be beautiful in my own entire way
Because everyone is beautiful it comes from within
But there are all was gonna be those who wanna push us in the lion's den
But we are stronger than diamonds we can learn this everyday
When we push the poison words of others out of the way
Because what they say isn't important you will soon come to find
Because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
Thank you so much for sharing that. That is beautiful. Very, very, very, very beautiful.
How long does it take to write something like that and where do you, I mean, their inspiration is personal, but yeah, where's that on average?
I find that I tend to write some of my best poems under pressure. So some of my best poems were written actually right before poetry slams right as I was about to go on stage and I actually had to improv the end on stage. So in that regard, like 20 minutes, some of my longer poems had taken three weeks to get perfectly down at it. It really differs. And my inspiration, it just comes from everywhere. It comes from my personal experience. Sometimes the experiences of my friends I think poetry is a really safe space to feel your emotions.
And so it's a really safe place to be really sad or really angry, upset, really excited about something really happy, really confused. And it's just a great place to put any of your emotions there. And it is totally safe. It is, you can share it with others, you can keep it just to yourself. And that's one of the things I love most about it.
Not a lot of people have an outlet like that, where they feel so safe to express their feelings. That's pretty amazing.
What would you tell another girl similar to yourself that would like to start writing poetry or doing slam poetry, but is completely afraid and doesn't want to start cause she doesn't think she's going to be good at it?
It doesn't matter if you're good. What matters is that you like it and that you're having fun and it can be really difficult. But my advice is take a deep breath and start writing. It doesn't matter if it's good. It doesn't matter if it's bad, it just matters that you're trying. And once you feel confident enough that you want to enter in a competition, look up local competitions or find a local slam poetry group here. Where I live, we have one called Wasatch wordsmiths that puts on a poetry slams every month. And that's how I got started. So you can look it up and just try your best.
And it is really nerve wracking, especially the first time you do it. And for some poetry slams, you might be the only girl your age there. But let me say, once you bared your soul to a room full of adults, you know, it's like I can anything, you know, because it is initially really hard.
You're worried about what's going to happen. What if I mess up, if you mess up, they've all been there before. And what's important is you try. If you never, you miss a hundred percent of the shots you don't take. And if you never try, you're never going to get it. So it's always important to take that first step. And remember, once you are up on stage, the audience is putting it in your hands. You control them with your words, with what you're saying. They have no, they have nothing on you. It is all you and you can do ever, you want, and you are going to do amazing.
What do you tell yourself right before you get on stage to calm your nerves down?
Okay. Right before you get on stage, it's always really nerve wracking. But one thing I do is I try to take a deep breath and I say, you control the audience. You got this. It is okay if you mess up because everybody has been there before, at least once. And it's okay if you don't place, it's okay. If this is your first time and you don't get a good score or you don't end up moving on to the next ground, because you were still learning, everybody here is still learning and you are trying, and that is the best prize you could ever ask for.
Have you been able to learn or use what you've learned with your slam poetry and other parts of your life to give you confidence?
Yeah. I think when I'm scared, I try to remember like, Hey, do you remember that first time when you have, you'd never really, you were performing in front of a whole room of adults, competing, baring a really, really personal poem to every single person there, remind yourself how tough that was and that you did it and you succeeded and you tried your best. And even if it didn't work out the way you wanted it, you still did it. And you, you are so brave for doing that. And you were. So I think it helps build up your confidence. You, you learn how to be better on stage. And then you realize, you know, like everything that I've learned can be applied to everything. Like, you know, you have, you have control of your own life.
That's what I've learned that you have power to influence other people that you have power to influence yourself, that you are able to do whatever you think of, and that you are strong and capable of controlling your own life.
That's amazing, you are so wise.
So this podcast is called GIRLBRAVE, and you've touched on being brave quite a bit. I'd love to hear what your definition of brave is.
I know I've already said it a lot, but I think brave is trying, I think brave is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. And that is really hard. I have, I actually have severe anxiety, so I understand what it's like to be really, really, really scared and really anxious and afraid of trying.
But bravery is something you build. Bravery is not, you don't, it's a process. You don't learn to get up and walk all at once. When you're a baby, you try and you fail and you try and you fail and you fail and you fail and fail and then you succeed and you keep going. And soon enough, you're able to run and jump and do things that, you know, like it's, it's crazy. But you, you did that, like imagine you were born and you didn't know how to talk. You didn't know how to walk. You just ate and slept all day. And now you are a fully formed person with thoughts and opinions and a will to change the world, you know?
And, and just keep trying, even if you fail, that is okay, because you will get there eventually. And that's all that matters.
You are very positive, but despite your anxiety, you can move past that, which is great. And I'm sure sometimes are easier than others, but what do you do to stay positive? And how did you learn to stay so positive or be positive?
I will say it can be really hard, especially in the slam poetry circuit. There can be quite a bit of negativity because a lot of times when you air out all of your dirty laundry, there is a lot of emotions and emotions are difficult. And sometimes they will keep us stuck in an, in a negative space. But it is hard. I'm not going to pretend like it isn't, but I always, there's a few things that helped me feel a little bit more positive or helped me keep more upbeat. And that's the really simple things that make me feel happy. I have kind of a list, a little log of things that make me feel good. Like cherry Coca-Cola Lip Smackers it makes me, I like the smell a lot and it makes me go and I feel like I can face the world, you know, or I love flowers and I see a flower and I think, Oh, that that's just so beautiful. Or I think attaching positive memories and positive emotions to things really helps me out. I'm making a list of things that you love, things that make you happy and reminding yourself that even when you're negative, even when you're sad, angry, confused, upset, whatever, you can find a healthy way to make yourself feel better. And that it won't always be like that. And yeah, the sun will come out. Whether that be tomorrow, the next day or in just a few minutes, some sun will come out.
That's great advice. I do the same thing. Whenever I start to feel a negative emotion, I stop. And I think, all right, this isn't what I want to be feeling. What's something that I do want to be feeling. And is there a different thought, or can I write down a list of things that I really like right now in order to try to pivot a little bit and feel just a little bit better? Like I don't have to solve my problem necessarily right now, but what can I turn my thoughts to, to make myself feel better?
I send out a daily text message, a positive daily text message. And I would love to add you to the list. So after we're off interested, you can give me your cell number and I can add you to the list.
I actually was on it for awhile, but I got a new number and I, I forgot to redo it, but I love to give to them.
I just have absolutely cherished this time, talking with you today, Emily.
Thank you so much.
All right. Thanks so much. Have a great day.
Thanks for joining us on the GIRLBRAVE podcast.Go to Pincurl Girls.com to hear more interviews with inspiring girls. And if you want to get on our daily texts list, go ahead and click the encouraging text tab at the top. We'll see you next time. Bye.