Poet’s Bio: Margaret Beaver is an
eighteen-year-old college freshman, mental health and LGBTQIA+ equality
activist, and award-winning poet and novelist. She has been honored as a
two-time consecutive Topical Winner of Live Poets Society of New Jersey
publications, a recipient of the Readers’ Favorite Five-Star cover seal, and
decorated with the Donna Lynn Quille Award for Best Advocacy Prose. Margaret is
the founder of Margaret Beaver Books, a grassroots organization aspiring to aid
the accessibility of treatment, education, and the arts. She writes nonfiction
poetry collections and novels spanning all subgenres of fiction detailing the
integral topics of inclusivity and prejudice, abusive authority, estranged
parents and children, the detriments of mental illness, and the triumph of
family. She is the author of INKWELLS. (Pegasus Publishers/Vanguard Press,
2022); FLOWERS FOR PAPA (Pegasus Publishers/Vanguard Press, 2024); and SEASONS:
AUGUST’S COLLECTION (Pegasus Publishers/Vanguard Press, 2024).

 

She can be visited at
www.margaretbeaverbooks.com or contacted at margaretbeaverbooks@gmail.com.

 

Deliah Lawrence: What inspired you to be a poet?


Margaret Beaver: I might be the only poet in the world to say that they hate
poetry, that they never anticipated any of this, that there were never any signs;
what there was only amounted to a mild interest, a black-and-white speckled
composition notebook, and my mother’s colorful pens. I had no way of knowing
that, years later, I would take that same interest and turn it into an act of
survival.


I was twelve years old, and I started
adopting severe symptoms of common mental disorders—generalized anxiety
disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder—and
realized the scale of hereditary illness. I became a student of unconventional
study when standing by during the vast explanations of my conditions from
physicians, practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, and endured a
multitude of differing therapies, each with their own successes and losses.

 

My sense of self suffered in the
process, being completely submerged in symptoms I couldn’t distinguish, and I’m
still learning how to rebuild it. Essentially, inkwells. is the
product of the worst mental health relapse of my life, which was caused largely
in part by the fact that I’d been doing extraordinarily well in ignoring and
neglecting my symptoms when my body and mind were clearly warring, and I opted
to remain the nonchalant referee. My work originated as a personal chronicling
of what I quietly endured for several years before admitting I needed help—I
wrote because I refused to speak. Because of this, my work remains to be an
accumulation of the authentic and realistic notions which I created as a sort
of self-medication to abstain from the self-destructive urges I was
experiencing.

 

For how sensitive the content is,
writing inkwells. was easy. It was a very smooth, deliberate
process. I wrote in the midst of anguish—and so I wrote constantly in a
perpetual act of release. I came up with a poem very few days—sometimes I wrote
multiple poems in one day—and then once I began feeling better and my symptoms
were more manageable, I collected all those pages and all those files on my
computer and compacted them into one document. It was never my intention to
actually do anything with the poems; I hadn’t meant to write as many as I did.
But after I realized I had scrawled almost twenty thousand words of pure
illness, I had to comprehend the fact that I had accidentally created something
that was such a genuine, unaltered, and unrestrained demonstration of the
realities of mental illness. The objective is simply to turn this
perceptible illness into something that can be both understood and embraced. I
like to say one thing specifically about it: For people who aren’t struggling,
this collection is knowledge; for people who are struggling, this collection is
validation. For me, it will always be the entrails of survival.

 

Now that I’m healing, my relationship
with poetry has morphed: Rather than feeling compelled to write on the basis of
endurance, poetry has become a source of entertainment. It is still a form of
diary and therapy, but the relationship we share is much less critical and more
casual and imaginative. I have never been healthier—my relationship with
writing has never been healthier—and for that, I am immensely grateful.

 

DL: What tips would you give to
aspiring poets?


MB: I have
been down the road of this industry for a really long while now, and I’m always
really happy to give advice whenever I’m asked because, admittedly, there were
a lot of things I did wrong, a lot of things I wish I had done that I didn’t,
and I want to make sure other aspiring professionals are much more equipped
than I was. That is my goal for you, and I’m sure that’s your goal for
yourself.


So, I started out my professional
career with poetry—aside from writing two really terrible novels between the
ages of eight and twelve. I’m
going to be honest: poetry is a tough break. As a genre, it generally has less
of a readership than novels or full-length nonfiction, so when it comes to,
say, gaining a presence or wanting to live wholly off your work without any
other income, those successes in this area of the industry are few and far
between. But that is NOT to say you shouldn’t try; this is just a fact I wish I
would’ve known in the beginning.

 

My
strongest advice would be to try to build a platform before even attempting to
go to publishers or agents because that publicity you’ve created for yourself
already makes a press or an agency more inclined to work with you. Before going
to publishers, a lot of writers started gaining a following from posting poems
or excerpts of unfinished books on social media. Some of the best and most
recognized poets were solely discovered on Instagram, for example. I would set
up social media accounts devoted entirely to posting your work and then do some
research about popular hashtags to attach to your caption. Also, collaborating
with medium-sized poets online who you see have a good-sized following. 


Several
years ago, before inkwells. came to fruition, I made a friend on a
forum called PoetrySoup, and he currently has a major following (from 500 to
5,000 in just a few years). To help boost his presence, outside of posting his
poems, he also created an entire poetry community for other poets to work with.
Point of the story: When gaining a presence, you can’t just support yourself
and your own work; you also have to make a platform for other like artists to
engage in so you’re involved in a constant circulation of content. It’s
basically the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth or a small town in a Hallmark
movie. In my case, instead of advocating for just myself, I made my
“brand” mental health awareness and general activism so that I’m
supporting more and thus gaining more. It’s a strategy but also a passion.

 

In
hindsight, there are also a lot of things I wish I had done differently. On the
publishing front, independent presses are amazing since you can garner
attention without the need for literary agents (a whole other ball of wax), but
you have to be very choosy about who you sign with. You Google
“publishers,” and every desperate press seeking your time and money
comes up in the search results. Most of the time, that’s a red flag in itself.
For one, make sure your publisher demonstrates the fact that they have a
thriving publicity department. Stalk your favorite writers and learn about
their origin stories. Everyone starts so small it’s almost unfathomable.


And,
across the board, I would leave aspiring authors with this philosophy: This
isn’t something that you can spend all day or all month doing and then achieve.
This is years in the making. This is time and commitment. If you’re not
committed enough to yourself and trust in your talent enough, there’s no reason
to even start. The support of others is simply not enough; it’s your drive for
yourself, and your work that makes you jump on every opportunity, and that
eagerness is required to succeed. There’s no way around it.

 

DL: In celebration of National Poetry Month, can you share with us
a few of your poems?


MB: In
March 2020, when I was beginning the initial stages of composing my debut
poetry collection, inkwells., I was listening to a song with strong
subject matter alluding to a tragedy or accidental death. The imagery and the
girth of the lyrics were so strong I was essentially inspired to write my very
first true poem titled “Sad boy.” It’s adopted a strange element of sudden
popularity since I published it, and people seemed particularly drawn to its
ambiguity and sense of mystique. Having been selected for publication in a
quarterly periodical by the New Jersey Live Poets Society, it’s easily one of
my best-received poems—and ironically so, considering I had no prior poetry
experience. It reads:

 

Sad boy

Strung out in the back of a black car,

Frequent haze dawns on me from afar

And I know I’ve been here before

 

Blare loud an atom bomb in this agony;

I need to find a place, of release

If only I could see the sky

 

Pools of red flake down from the ache

I have to find a way, out of this place

But I know this is only a feather in the wing of time

 

But here we lie, strung out in this black car

I fist your shirt, to find your heart

But I’m beyond these untimely faults

 

Boy, it sure is a sad life,

Begging a sad boy to stay and have a sad time

 

Maybe it’s the thought that counts?

 

Side to side, we trace our clues

But it all comes circling back to you

Is there something I can do?

 

But we only ask when it’s too late

When we’re too far gone, in this abstract place

If only you could see the sky

 

I wish you could see the sky

 

While I’m not at liberty to divulge too many details about my
upcoming sophomore collection, Seasons: August’s Collection, there are
select stanzas I’m immensely proud of and that I feel are particularly
representative of my poetic development. (I wasn’t able to be proud of the work
produced in inkwells. since I was mentally incapacitated at the time and
was too sick to experience any degree of pride or joy. Being in remission now, I
am afforded the sensations and realities of pride and satisfaction with my work,
and it is one of my most precious developments.) Considering I started my
poetry journey as a fourteen-year-old ninth grader, being a current college
student has offered integral literary evolution during formative years that are
already evidently crucial regarding personal development into adulthood. One of
the poems in the upcoming collection, titled “hurt people hurt people,” opens
with one of my favorite lines to date:

 

I’ve gone to far too many funerals

The faces look the same

Keep telling the kids they can’t come
home

If they could feel, they’d feel
estranged

We tie our nooses a little tighter

When we think of the mess we made

Our webs of scars—no, they’re our art

And you feel the need to paint

 

The publication dates for Seasons: August’s Collection and
its sister novel, Flowers for Papa, are currently TBA, and I thank all
my readers for their patience during the unforeseen delays in production since
these works were first contracted two years ago. I will announce any
developments on my blog and in my periodic newsletter.

 

DL: What new projects are you currently working on?


MB: Currently,
I’m centralizing a majority of my energy on refining and elevating the presence
and impact of my organization, Margaret Beaver Books (MBB). Founded in 2022,
just

following the initial release of inkwells. in June, the whole story
boils down to the fact that, once I had the book out, I reasoned that I needed
an online presence to market and publicize myself and my work—so I built a
website for myself, and it later ended up mutating into a business of its own.
“Margaret Beaver Books dot com” was the closest domain name I could get to
myself, so I decided, to go with the domain, to fully rename the interface as
Margaret Beaver Books and make it into a grassroots organization rather than
just a retail platform. 


Today, MBB operates as both: it features my work, my
message, my story, and from my story, we support and advocate for the causes
associated, such as mental health awareness and LGBT advocacy. In the future, I
would really love to take MBB to the next level and collaborate with mental
health and literary initiatives to aid in the accessibility of treatment,
education, and the arts. Also, considering today’s recent climate, it is
important to note that we actively support a series of equality movements and
are strongly advocating for a ceasefire regarding the Gaza conflict. We have
always and will always stand for equality, and we have the bones to be a
driving force where it means most, so we’re using our resources however we can.
 

On the literary front, I’m
also laboring over an extensive character-driven speculative fiction project with
strong science fiction resemblances that have been prolonged for four years and
counting. My advocacy and philanthropic work have been especially channeled for
this pursuit, and I can best describe the manuscript as a sweeping commentary
surrounding notions of humanity and how humanity simply cannot exist when
bigotry does as well. When this project comes to completion, I’ve been enticed
with elevating my career exposure and am interested in pursuing professional
representation. Here’s to hoping!
 

DL: Where can readers learn
more about you and your poetry?


MB:
Readers can get more information here:

DL: Thanks
so much for being here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to
know you and your work.


MB: Thank
you so much again for wanting my inclusion in this project!

National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Margaret Beaver &Raquo; Margaret%20Beaver%20Pic%204 2 24

National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Margaret Beaver &Raquo; Margaret%20Beaver%20 %20Seasons%20Book%20Cover%204 2 24
National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Margaret Beaver &Raquo; Margaret%20Beaver%20 %20Inkwells%20Book%20Cover%204 2 24

Originally Published on https://vocalexpressions.blogspot.com

Deliah Lawrence Attorney, Author, Blogger, Workshop Facilitator

Deliah Lawrence is a Maryland-based attorney and award-winning author of two romantic suspense novels (Gotta Let It Go and Gotta Get It Back) set in Baltimore. She’s also a blogger and workshop facilitator who writes poetry and short stories.

When Deliah isn’t writing, you can find her reading a book, indulging in her addiction to investigation discovery shows; or painting her yet-to-be exhibited oil artworks of landscapes, portraits or whatever else comes to her creative mind. Constantly on the go, she is also a member of the Black Writers’ Guild of Maryland and Sisters in Crime.

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