links to buy her work in her Instagram bio, this is also where you can contact her: @chloe.creating
A couple of days ago I had the honour to interview Chloe Henkel – an 18-year-old poet whose work I am obsessed with. At only 18, Chloe has two poetry books published: ‘Paper Scraps’ and ‘Love as a Distinct Possibility’. In this exclusive interview we discuss these two books and the issues she wanted to bring awareness to within each of them, her plans for future work and the new ‘Instagram’ poetry that’s taking social media by storm.
Let’s start at the start - what first inspired you to write?
“I’ve always absolutely loved writing! But I got really serious about it after I started reading more poetry in general, and after my therapist encouraged me to try writing as a way of expressing all the things that I was having trouble saying. “
What makes good poetry in your opinion?
“That’s such a hard question to answer, because poetry is art, and art is so subjective! But I think what really makes a good poem is the ability to capture a feeling, and/or the ability to connect with people. You can have the most technically amazing poem in the world, but if nobody connects with it, and it hasn’t captured anything, what good does it do?”
Of course, I personally find social issues really important to explore in poetry – I know you do as well. Do you have a preference for certain issues to write about?
“I do personally feel like it’s super important to use my poetry to talk about social issues. I particularly focus on things around mental health and mental illness, which technically doubles as personal experiences, but I seriously want to make a positive impact on others using my words. I feel like it’s one of the best things we can do for the world and the novel I’m currently working on is centred around climate and healthcare issues, both of which I think are also really important to talk about. “
You’ve kind of touched on this already, what with poetry being so subjective but I think there’s more to discuss here. There’s been a lot of strong opinions and claims that poetry is being ruined by the newfound minimalist ‘Instagram’ style of poetry that’s being popularised, do you have any views on this?
“I have such strong opinions on this. The short answer is that I think it’s wrong. So many people are connecting with poetry via Instagram and other social media platforms, and are loving it. And what’s the purpose of poetry if not to make an impact on people, and to be enjoyed? Obviously not everyone is going to like shorter, more simple poems, just like not everyone is going to like any other style: and that’s okay! But if you don’t like it, just don’t read it. Nobody is being “forced” to read it, so if people read it, it means they really like it. And if that many people really like it, why is it considered a ‘bad thing’, you know?
I completely agree, there’s a reason that it’s popular. Why do you think it’s still considered a bad thing then?
“Basically, I think a lot of people confuse ‘I don’t enjoy this’ with ‘this shouldn’t be allowed in poetry spaces,’ and I think that’s a super harmful way to think. I think we should try to just let people enjoy things that make them happy and leave it at that!”
Definitely! Speaking of things that we enjoy – your books! Let’s start with the first one: Paper Scraps! Now for the people who don’t know, it has two sections: ‘The Fog’ and ‘The stars.’ Would you tell us what each of the sections are about?
“The Fog is all about confusion, sadness, and uncertainty, and The Stars is about how we can guide ourselves out of that and into the light, into hope, into a brighter future. “
What pushed you to publish this book? Did you just want to get your words into the world?
“I published this book about two months after being pulled out of public school for mental health reasons, and I definitely think the book reflects where I was, and where I was hoping to be at the time: my life had been completely turned upside-down, but I was trying to find the hope and good in it.”
What about your second book ‘Love as a Distinct Possibility’? What’s that about?
“My second book, ‘Love as a Distinct Possibility’ is all about the ups-and-downs of love which was super scary to put out there! I’ve always loved writing about love, so I had years’ worth of poems about it saved up, but I’d always been too scared to share them because they felt way too personal (especially the ones about heartbreak— ugh!). But the responses I’ve gotten from other people saying they relate, saying they’ve felt what I have, and so on, made me feel so much better about it!”
It is really amazing; you should be so proud of all of the work you’ve put out there. Can we expect any more to be published?
“I absolutely have more plans for the future! I already have two more books in the works. One, a poetry collection about mental illness and mental health, and the other a novel with some interesting, morally-grey characters. I also offer editing, formatting, and cover-design services for other authors (and have worked on the books of four other authors so far). I would love to continue writing my own books, and work as an editor/designer for a publishing house eventually.”
As stated at the beginning, you can contact her at @chloe.creating (she would love to get a message!) and buy her books through the link in her bio.
(and as always, I can be contacted here: @cerysmcadam)