Today I am interviewing Jade Moore, friend and author of Conversations Bordering on Torment. ‘Conversations’ is an excellent book of poetry describing the emotions of struggling with anxiety and trying ones hardest to overcome the mental health issue. Jade pens beautiful poetry that will take your breath away, whether you’re a fellow sufferer of mental health issues or just a lover of poetry!
1.) Jade, you recently wrote a book of poetry entitled: Conversations Bordering on Torment. What was your inspiration for writing the book?
My inspiration came from the wonderful people who first read my poems when I posted them on my blog. It took a while before I felt comfortable sharing such personal poems, but I received some great feedback and can honestly say I wouldn’t have kept writing without their inspiring words. I definitely wouldn’t have had enough to full a book!
Aside from that, I wanted to publish the book as a reminder of my personal journey with anxiety, to prove to myself that positive things can be born from negative situations.
2.) Many poems can be confusing to understand. How did you manage to write about such a complex topic in a simple way that reaches your readers? Are there any special techniques that you use to write your poetry?
Most of the poems in the book were written in the ‘anxious moment’ as it were. So I’d be experiencing the poem as I was writing it. The shorter poems like ‘Why?’ were written in the space of about a minute, because I just had to get it out of my system. I think that’s why they are easier to understand, they aren’t shrouded in poetic imagery or metaphors – they are how I experienced them.
The first poem, however, had a lot of thought go into it. It is written entirely in iambic pentameter, which means every line in ten syllables. So I had to go through every word and every syllable with careful thought to write that one, but the sentiment and process behind it was still done with anxiety looking over my shoulder.
And I love to rhyme. Sometimes they come naturally, and other times I need to think a bit more about them and do a bit of tweaking after writing them. Not every poem lends itself to rhyming, but I prefer them when they do. I’m particularly proud of my rhyming in ‘The Show Must Go On’.
3.) Many of your poems center on anxiety and mental health. How long have you struggled with this issue?
I can’t pinpoint an exact date, but I can tell you when I realized I had it. In my third year of college in 2012 I had what my tutor later described as a ‘depressive breakdown’. I wanted to leave college. My Granddad had just died and I was going through a few problems with a friend which caused me great levels of anxiety, and it all got too much. Luckily, I was given a week off to sort myself out and during that time I began having Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
I still struggle with anxiety now, but I’m a lot better than I used to be.
4.) You chose to write poems about anxiety instead of a type of story or essay. Do you find poetry to be the best tool to express such issues? Why or why not?
I’m an advocate of writing as therapy. This is something that my CBT helped me to realise. Sometimes mindfulness works for me, and sometimes it makes me even more anxious. But writing is different, when I’m anxious my emotions are everywhere and my thoughts are ‘louder’ in a way. Writing them down in my diary isn’t enough, I need to create something and express how I’m feeling in a creative way that I can read back and be proud of.
Writing poetry is the solution for me in moments of anxiety. Once I’ve created something from it I feel a bit better, and it distracts me from overthinking. So although it might not be the best tool for everyone, it is for me. But whether you’re a poet or not – writing your feelings down does help.
5.) As an author, what do you feel is the most important part of writing?
Write for yourself. Write as though you’re the only one who is going to read it. It’s inevitable that authors should think about their readers, and this is particularly true of fiction authors and non-fiction authors. I also write fiction, but in terms of being a poet I want to write the words for myself before anyone else, and that is so important to me in order to be genuine. I think it also adds a human aspect to my writing; it’s not hiding behind a screen. It’s just me through my words, and if other people connect with my words then I’m a happy author indeed.
6.) What is the biggest lesson you want your readers to take away from Conversations Bordering on Torment?
The biggest lesson is this: You can do something positive in a negative situation. I place emphasis on a few factors:
– My poems are presented in the order they were written
– My poems were written during moments of anxiety
– They are (mostly) unedited
I’m currently working on a third edition of the book which will include extra poems, again in the order I wrote them after publishing the book. But by going through each poem again, I have naturally changed a few lines or words here and there to improve them, but each poem has been through no more than three drafts. This isn’t a lot; I know a poet who can get through at least twenty drafts per poem.
So I want my readers to read the words on the page as they came to be during moments of heightened anxiety. They were my positivity during negative times.
7.) What other genres of writing do you enjoy? What genres of books do you enjoy reading?
Mostly I read fiction and non-fiction. I rarely read poetry, but when I do read it it’s usually indie authors or short-form poetry. My favourite type of fiction is YA, and I like non-fiction books that focus on mental health and the mind. But I’ll read anything that appeals to me really!
8.) Who are you favorite authors?
David Levithan, Alan Hollinghurst, Edmund White, Jon Ronson, Jasper Fforde, Patrick Ness, and Sylvia Plath.
9.) How long have you enjoyed writing?
I’ve been writing ever since I was young, but I didn’t start enjoying it properly until I realized I wanted to do Creative Writing at university. That was only in 2013, but as I said, the years before that were really hard for me and I was on auto-pilot mentally. I couldn’t pursue my dreams or realise I even had any, but once I got into university that’s when my passion for writing really had chance to bloom.
10.) What are some things you want your readers to know about yourself? About your writing?
I want me readers to know that each poem is deeply personal. I write some poems in my book that refer to a past friendship. This friendship was my life day in day out for a huge chunk of my life, and it was the slow crumbling of this friendship that caused me the biggest pain anxiety-wise.
So my words may refer to things that people may not know the full meaning behind, but as I said, I write first for myself and it is up to my readers to take from my words whatever they want. If they find solace in my words, then I will be extra proud for having written them.
I’m also an introvert, and writing is the best way for me to communicate my feelings. I’m the baby of my siblings, and the quiet one in the family. A lot of my family don’t know much about my anxiety, so my poems are where you’ll find the most meaningful of my feelings. I’m letting you into my world and my mind.
11.) What are some other tools you use in order to get through anxiety?
A to-do list helps. My anxiety causes me to have memory loss. The more anxious I feel, the worse my memory is. So you’ll find me with a pocket diary with to-do lists spanning the entire week reminding me of exactly what I need to do, who I need to meet and where I need to go. Otherwise, I’ll have anxiety, then I’ll have extra anxiety because I won’t be able to remember anything. I sit down most mornings and go through each thing that needs doing, and this makes me less anxious because I know everything is written down.
I also factor in time to relax. The other night I was really anxious and instead of working on important things I gave myself the evening off just to eat and watch sitcoms. Being alone with myself and treating myself to simple pleasures really helps me to calm down.
12.) What are some other works you feel your readers should familiarize themselves with?
Quiet – Susan Cain
Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Breakdown – Chris McLoughlin
Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert
Magazines: Flow, Breathe, The Simple Things, Happinez
Any and all poems by E. E. Cummings
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
The Journals of Sylvia Plath
To purchase a copy of Jade’s book, click here!