I can't wait for you to meet Olivia Upham, a fabulous poet whose poetry will have you thinking and have you feeling. I love her light hearted, yet thought provoking words. I am thrilled you get to meet this awesome poet who is only 16 and see what makes her tick, as well as what draws her to writing poetry at such a young age.
Born and raised in Michigan, I’m 16 years old and am right now a Junior in high school. My greatest passions besides writing is running, ski racing, adventure, and music. I have two younger brothers, a dog named Tug and the newest addition to our family, my fish Adventure. He’s quite charismatic. Like a lot of teenagers, it’s quite frankly a shot in the dark for where I’d like to take my future; perhaps getting my Doctorate degree in Language Composition or joining the Peace Corps to teach around the world.
I had no idea you were only 16, that's incredible! When did you start creating poetry? Tell us about your journey?
I’ve had a tattered writer’s notebook since I was about 8 years old, and a lot of my earliest poems were about Tug since optimally, lots of things rhyme with ‘Tug’. I remember my first “real” accomplishment was getting an essay (unsurprisingly about my dog) I wrote selected for publication in a children’s anthology. I didn’t start writing true, authentic poetry until I was about 13. I’m an observer by nature, severely so. And so it was just a matter of learning the craft and documenting how someone grows up when you feel like you think like you’re quite a bit older than you are (all the while still being able to act like you’re quite a deal younger). Last year I read some poetry on field at my state’s MLB team stadium, and that experience showed me words are supposed to be shared. People will listen.
For someone so young, your poetry has a very mature tone to it. How would you describe your poetry?
I would say my poetry is adaptive. Since I’m still growing up and figuring things out for myself, my craft evolves as my ideals do. Some people have been writing longer than I’ve been alive, and although this is discouraging at times, I’ve developed a warmth towards inexperienced writing. I tend to see the world in a brighter perspective since I haven’t been around long enough for it to be dimmed, and a part of me wishes that it never will.
I love that, I believe that your poetry reflects that. It has a light hearted feel to them, but are very thought provoking. What inspires your poetry?
Authenticity. Whether it’s a feeling I had while watching the ravenous applause at an event or a sense of solitude I unearth in the middle of the night, anything that’s genuine inspires me. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to inspiration, only that it exists.
What is the process you take to write your poetry?
Maybe it’s because I haven’t developed one yet, but I don’t have one. It’s an itching I get in my skeleton that something vast must be released, and so I run up the stairs to my typewriter, pull back my hair in a neglected ponytail, clear the clutter from the keyboard, and bleed.
Sharing poetry is very personal, I was wondering what made you start your Instagram account?
I had been writing smaller pieces just for friends, and eventually I got enough suggestions to share with a larger audience that I pulled the trigger. It was really just out of convenience to have all my words in one place, I had no idea how many adventure windows (some people will understand) Instagram would open up for me.
That is very brave of you, and it is great to be sharing your passions with the world. Why is sharing your poetry special to you?
My greatest fear in life is accessibility. And so throwing my words into this huge void helps me combat that. It’s almost an unearthly sense of relief when someone says “you wrote what I couldn’t say”, because then you get it. You’re not alone in living somewhere deeper.
I can imagine that would be a very rewarding experience for you to have others appreciate your work. What do you want people to take from your poetry?
I want to write the words that everyone needs. I’m too unselfish in that way; I write for other people too often, which isn’t always a bad thing. But ultimately I want my audience to realize you can have an infinite, unparalleled, emotional love for this world and all the philosophies and universal ties that come along with it, and still be able to adore chocolate ice cream and dancing in your bedroom by yourself. Being a “deep person” and a “happy person” are not mutually exclusive. Be silly, creatures.
Very well said. Out of all the poems you have read, which would you pick for your top 3 favourite poems and why?
The first one is the one I wrote that starts off with “Wait for someone who…” I’ve had people memorize this one and recite it to me, which absolutely makes my soul swell. It’s about knowing who you are, and not everyone will compliment those attributes in a way that makes you feel free. But don’t settle for constriction. The second one is probably the one that ends with the lines “she knows who she is, she is wrong but she is so beautiful”. It was the first piece of writing I have ever cried while composing. The last piece is actually quite short, it’s: “People say long distance relationships are hard. But please keep in mind I am 238,855 miles away from the moon”. Simply, the moon is the literal love of my life.
I agree, those poems are beautiful! You are extremely talented. Would you ever publish your poems?
9 months ago, I would’ve said no. My book comes out this Fall/Winter. The world is a funny place.
Congratulations! That is amazing! I wish you all the best. What other plans do you have for the future in terms of your poetry?
As mentioned before, my very first book will come out this Fall/Winter and will be available on Amazon as well as hundreds of other retail options. It’s a collection of prose and short stories, both seen and unseen by Instagram.
Well, that is just amazing. I wish you tonnes of success with the upcoming release of your book. I am very excited for you! You have to tell me when it is out so I can tell everyone. Again, thank you for doing this interview and sharing the news about your book.
If you want to keep up with Olivia's progress with her writing, you can follow her on instagram at @monument_poems