Frequently asked questions
When did you start writing poetry?
I like to say that I’ve always been a writer - I’ve regularly written in a journal since I was seven. I remember writing (what I think was ) my first poem at 8-years-old when my cat passed away. I really got back into it after taking a creative writing class with Canadian author, Carrie Snyder, at the University of Waterloo. Before that class, I thought the point of poetry was to be secretive, using metaphors that only I could understand. She gave me great feedback, something along the lines of, “This is well-written, but I have no idea what it means.” After that class, I started posting poetry on my personal Instagram, but it never really felt right (and honestly, my friends from high school and university were mostly confused by my poems). @michaelapoetry was born in May of 2017 and I’ve been posting poems there (for about six months, it was literally a poem a day) ever since!
Where did you get the idea for the rings?
I’ve worn rings every day for as long as I can remember - I actually had quite a large collection without even realizing it, before I started my poetry Instagram. To me (and lots of people), rings have a symbolic meaning - it can come from where you got the ring, who gave it to you, or the time in your life when you wore it the most. I started writing poems about particular moments and relationships in my life and pairing them with rings, and it really started resonating with people (which was super exciting!).
What inspires you to write?
I honestly can be inspired by the simplest things - like buying new towels or accomplishing a good eyeliner wing. But usually I use writing as catharsis. When I’m going through something difficult, whether it be heartbreak, relationship issues, or a loss, I always find that writing things out makes everything make more sense. It’s nice to not focus on something being “good” and more on how it makes you feel.
How did you self-publish When He Leaves You?
I did some Googling and found that a ton of reputable poets first published their debut collections with Amazon’s Createspace (I was skeptical of self-publishing before this, because I thought that it would somehow make my work less legitimate). I did some research (there are a ton of resources on forums and just through Google) and realized it was actually way easier than I thought to self-publish. So I started piecing my poems together from Instagram, grouping them by themes that made sense, and then ordering them in an overall narrative that felt right for a book. I used Adobe InDesign to format my interior files and worked with a designer to do the bone leaf illustration and put my cover together. After finally clicking submit, my book had fully populated within a few hours!
How do you take photos for your Instagram?
Right now, they’re all taken with my iPhone 6S (haha yes, I know I have an old phone, thank you very much). I have a vintage Underwood typewriter (purchased from Toronto Typewriters) that I use to type out the typewritten poems on normal printer paper. I take a photo of the poem with a ring on it (always try to do it during daylight), edit the photo with VSCO (big fan of grain and the HB1 filter), add a dust filter with AfterLight, and then brighten and make it cooler with Instagram editing. Similar thing for photos of poems in my book, but I usually skip AfterLight.
How do I grow my Instagram following?
Build a community. Find other people doing what you’re doing that inspire you and reach out to them. Like their stuff, leave authentic comments on their posts, respond to their stories. For me, Instagram would be nothing without all the awesome people I’ve met!
Use hashtags. They actually work. I started with just poetry hashtags, and then added some ring ones, and then some book ones when my book came out. Start with one vertical (e.g. poetry) and think of creative ways you can expand that through what you post and your hashtags - there are so many amazing communities on Instagram! As a rule, I use around 20 hashtags per post.
Share your personality. I personally love following people who show their real lives in their stories, whether that’s having coffee or playing the guitar or just ranting about life. It was super awkward for me to do this at first, but I just bit the bullet and now it’s actually so fun! It’s important to authentically connect with people and let them know who you are, especially if you want them to advocate for you (and in my case, buy my book!)
Post regularly. Instagram rewards those who are constantly creating content for their platform. I’ve seen poetry accounts skyrocket just by posting five times a day (not suggesting you do that though). I posted once a day consistently for about six months and really saw a boost (from 5,000 followers in January 2018 to 50,000 followers in October 2018).
Are you going to write another book?
Yes! Eventually! I think I just need something to happen first, since When He Leaves You was quite the story. Also considering writing a collection of essays in between poetry books, so I can be a little more funny and a little less emotional.
Where do you get all the rings from?
Literally everywhere - my parents, past relationships (lol), thrift stores, cheap packs from Forever 21. If you want to know where a specific ring is from, feel free to DM me on Instagram, I’m pretty good at responding!
How many rings do you have?
Over 80, lmao.
How old are you?
I was born on November 18th, 1992 (#scorpio). Writing my birthday instead of my age so I don’t have to update this every year.
How old is Bea?
She was born on March 3rd, 2018 (#pisces).
How do you pronounce your name?
that’s all folks