Everyone, regardless of politics, of-who-likes-or-dislikes-who, Bryan Edwards chooses to genuinely acknowledge everyone in the community regardless, if they are popular or a pariah. Bryan believes, our community on a whole is “one”. To have that level of unbiased perception in a community that is as vast as the Instagram Writing Community is quite unique. Most people decide their battle lines and keep to boundaries but, Bryan is interested in supporting everyone who has moved him through their poetry and writing. Which is why he declined to answer my “Who are your favourite Indie Writer’s?” question. He wanted to ensure that no one was missed - Bryan values the idiosyncratic cornucopia of poets on Instagram and has done much to support the community. For more information on Bryan and his writing journey please follow him at @_bryan.edwards.
p.s. This has got to be one of my favourite interviews – Bryan does not hold back on a single emotion of piece of generous advice! Now, allow your optics to immerse themselves into this thoughtful interview!
RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?
BE: Yes. It happens all of the time. But then I realized that the only one putting pressure on myself is me. I remind myself that I’m writing and creating all of the time. Whether it’s when I’m at work writing professionally, at home working around the house or on Instagram putting together slides and Lives. I’ve learned to be patient. When inspiration comes, then I’ll write.
RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?
BE: Because of my inner critic, it takes me a long time to finish a poem sometimes. I’m a perfectionist but that’s also stems from the professional world. When I implement a new program, policy or procedure, I need to make sure that it is well thought out. I need to make sure that I have back up plans in place in case something goes wrong and that it rolls out efficiently. So, when it comes to writing poetry, (unless there is a deadline) I’ll write a piece, let it rest for a while then I’ll go back to it. I’ll do this several times if I need to, until I feel that it’s finished. Then I’ll release it. I want to make sure that its well thought out and that I’m happy with it.
RMMW: Do you have any artist rituals before starting a new piece?
BE: Not really. But I have my spots where I like to sit and write. At night, I like to sit outside in the fresh air with my dog. In the morning, I sit in my backyard and write. What’s funny is when I’m on a business trip. I go ‘in search of’ a spot to sit. The best spot ever was when I was staying at a hotel and I sat behind their dumpster on a milk crate. I like my privacy.
RMMW: What do you enjoy most about reading the work of various artists via your Instagram live shows?
BE: I know how much I put into each of my poems. Some of them are extremely deep and sometimes I debate whether I want to share it with the community or not. In fact, there are poems that I’ve written that I will probably never share with anyone. So, with that being said, with every poem I read Live, I read each one with great responsibility. I often pray before a Live asking for the words to come out smoothly and if I speak upon what it is that made me choose the poem, to give me the words to honor, compliment and encourage others.
RMMW: How do you select who you read?
BE: Every week is different. Sometimes I’ll pick a random hashtag and see who I can find. Sometimes, when I’m commenting on a poem, another poet that I don’t know will share an interesting comment and I will check out their page. Other times, a poet will recommend another poet to me or I will read someone I know because I really enjoy their work.
RMMW: I'm EXTREMELY picky with who I would let read my work on an Instagram Live... Have you ever been met with resistance when requesting to read the work of others on an Instagram live? How did you resolve the situation?
BE: That’s only happen to me twice. I apologize and I move on.
Some people are not going to agree with the answer that I’m about to share. However, I would like to premise this up front. I probably have over a hundred poems that will never see the light of day. They are mine. They belong to me. I wrote them during a time in my life that is behind me and I don’t want to go back to that.
So, sometimes I ask if I can read someone but a lot of times I don’t. I approach it from the perspective from which I wrote above, if you don’t want your poetry seen or read, this is social media, please don’t post it. If you chose to post your poetry (or anything at all) but only want certain people to read it or see it, then please keep your account private. Then if you do accept a request for someone to follow you, then please share with them directly not to show anyone else your content. But keep in mind, there’s always that chance that they can copy, or screen shot anything of yours and share it with whom ever they want.
So, to bring this question to a close, please know like I stated in a question above; that with every poem I read, I read it with Great Responsibility! I know how personal each of my poems are to me, so I ALWAYS want to give even a great level of RESPECT back.
RMMW: What qualities do you look for in the pieces you read on your lives?
When I was in creative writing class in high school was when I wrote what I considered to be my very first poem. (I had been writing lyrics prior to that.) It was called Graffiti. I don’t remember what grade I received but what I do remember how proud I was of it.
I share this with you for two reasons. The first is that, when I read Garffiti now, in my personal opinion, I can write it so much better now but back then and the seventeen year old inside of me back ten, thought it deserved an A. Secondly, when I turned that piece of paper in to my teacher, there was a good chance that she would be the only one who would ever read it. But now, whenever any of us chose (key word Chose) to post something on social media, tens of millions of people can see it. That can be scary and overwhelming. I remember someone saying a while back that hundreds of new poets join social media every week but within the first month, they delete their accounts. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I have picked many new poets to read and by the time I’m ready to go Live, they’re gone.
So, when I pick a piece of poetry to read Live, I keep all of that in the back if my mind. That each poem that someone chose to share on social media, is very personal to them and they wouldn’t have posted it if they didn’t think it was good enough. So, I search for pieces that I can relate to. Sometimes it just one line, even just one word. Sometimes I like the challenge of reading different formats or if the topic of the poem is controversial that I believe in, I’ll share that too. All poetry is good because it means something to the person who wrote it.
RMMW: What is your first writing memory?
BE: Kids can be mean. When I was fourteen, this was this girl in the neighborhood that a buddy and I use to make fun of. So, I made up a song about her washing her hair. She got so mad at me! Instead of walking away, she ‘kept coming back for me.’ In hindsight now, her and I both had a crush on one another so the more fun I made of her, the more time we spent together.
Moving forward, because of that song, it inspired me to write lyrics and pursue music. In my teens and into my early twenties, I wrote lyrics for hundreds of songs. I just recently found them my old folders. Eventually I’ll break them out and review them.
RMMW: How as writing helped you?
BE: Have you ever had an entire conversation with someone, or even better yet, a blow out argument and they're not even there? Then when you see them, they have no clue as to why you're mad at them. I am so guilty of this.
By writing, it has helped to get those thoughts out of my head and onto 'paper.' Another thing that has helped, is by sharing my work online. (In the back of my mind I know, that millions of people can read it.) I make a conscious effort to not write about the same thing over and over again. Well, I can if I want, but I've reached a point where with certain topics, I've realize that its time to move on. I forgive myself for obsessing over something for so long, I let it go and I move forward. There's plenty of other things to write about.
Not too long ago, I shared with my family that I write poetry. "Oh... Okay... If that's what you like to do..." Then I shared with one of my siblings two of the most personal poems I have ever written. What I heard was, "That's nice." I’m okay with that. Honestly, It’s what I expected.
My entire life I have kept my depression, brokenness and suicide attempts to myself. My family doesn't even know about it. What I'm most thankful for is the poetry community on Instagram. I finally have a place to go where I can openly write and talk about it. Its time to heal and I've found a home, an extended family who will support me.
RMMW: How has your writing evolved over the years?
BE: When I first switched to poetry, I liked writing micro. I like the challenge of taking paragraphs that I had written and compressing them down in to one screen shot on my phone. (Plus, when I first started my Instagram account, I didn’t know that you could do multiple slides.) When it comes to micro poetry, I often say, “If you only had ten seconds to say something to someone that there is a chance you may never get to see again, what would you say?” That’s the power of micro! Recently though, I’ve started writing long form. I’ve expanded from just writing about relationships to writing about past events that have happened in my life. The older I get, the more I’m letting go, forgiving myself and healing.
RMMW: If you could go back in time and speak to your younger self about writing, what advice would you give?
BE: DON’T delete! Archive!
Its wasn’t until I was out on my own that I was finally able to afford a computer. I kept all of my writing in three ring binders. One year on New Year’s Day, I sadly made the decision to burn everything other than my lyrics. I thought I was doing the right thing. I did it so I could focus more on my career never knowing that writing legal documents would become part of my job. I did it because I thought writing was distracting me from being in a relationship. But then I ended up sitting on the couch every night feeling like I was wasting away watching TV.
Writing to me now is an extension and exploration of my inner self. I can’t go back and unburn those papers but what I can do now is, if I’m not happy with something that I’m writing, I can archive it and go back to it at a later date. Something originally inspired me to write and when the time is right, inspiration will come again to finish it.
RMMW: What do you feel is the main crux of those involved in the writing world?
BE: Mainstream publishing. But I don’t know if I would consider it a crux. It’s all about business. It’s all about what sales. It’s about what generates revenue.
Before I ever joined Instagram, I heard the saying, ‘Instapoetry isn’t real poetry.” My question is; Who originally said that and how is it that so many of us have heard it said before? I really like that so many poets on Instagram (and on other social media apps) are self publishing. I encourage everyone to do so and even if you can’t afford to purchase every book out there, find a way to support one another. Eventually, Mainstream is going to take notice and will want a slice of that revenue pie. There are a lot of us who will say that we don’t write for the fame or for money, but how exciting would it be if we could make a career out of what we love to do.
RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?
BE: When I was little, I got in an argument with a girl. I told her that she was born naked and she swore to me that she was born wearing her favorite nightgown. I lost that fight. My nephew, when he was a toddler, said that if anyone ever broke into his house that he would drop a piano on them. When my son was in elementary school, he had to keep a journal. One of his entries read, “Dear caterpillors, doo yoo nowe the Butterfly?” I framed it and it hangs up behind me on my wall when I go Live. It’s the picture with a star in the middle of it. If I had a superpower, it would be to see the world through a child’s eyes again.