Thursday, May 8, 2014

Meggie Royer: Depression, Self Image and the Power of Poetry

Art and writing have long been a way for humans to cope with the mysteries of life. Opening a book and reading the detailed, painful, embarrassing, loving or heart-breaking experience of another person helps us to remember that we're not alone and we never truly walk in uncharted territory, only in territory new to us.

It's a real honor to welcome poet Meggie Royer (author of Survival Songs and Healing Old Wounds with New Stitches) to the blog. In the spirit of this blog's themes (fashion and body positivity), Meggie is perhaps one of the best-suited guests to speak about the latter in terms of the power of art, healing and self-image. Read on for my interview with her...

You’ve written a lot of poetry with themes of depression, heartbreak and self-image, things that countless among us struggle with. Do these themes come from a personal place, or an outside observation?

Some of these themes definitely do come from a personal place, especially the depression and self-image issues. Those are issues I struggle with a lot myself, so they manifest themselves as common motifs in my poetry. I write about them with the intent of self-healing, but more so with the intent of hopefully providing some sort of comfort and healing for others experiencing the same difficulties. I also like to mix my own personal experiences with outside observations of others’ experiences to create a blend of personal and observational, because I think it makes my poetry more relatable.

Your response through social media like Tumblr and Twitter has been overwhelming, with people contacting you to say how much you inspired them. Some even say your work saved them from suicide. Did you ever imagine this kind of response?

I never, ever in a million years imagined this kind of response. Sometimes it honestly still just feels surreal- like it’s another writer people are responding to and contacting. Overall, I am incredibly grateful and overwhelmed for the huge volume of support I’ve received throughout my writing career, and also so relieved and glad to know that my writing has actually saved some lives. I could not imagine a better result stemming from my writing. I’m just happy it has such a positive impact on so many people.

I know with my own poetry, it’s often hard to extract myself from the work and speak on the subject because it’s a deeper form of communication in so many ways. But what is your advice to people who struggle with self-image?

To people who struggle with self-image, I would say this: You are more than a mirror. You are the face looking into the mirror, no matter how difficult it is to see the beauty of that face. You are more powerful than you know, and you may feel hopeless and crumbling and damaged at times, but just remember that the Big Bang grew from dust and rock and exploded into an incredible universe. And you’re just like that, built from flaws yet so beautiful and humbling.

That's so beautiful. What do you listen to or read for encouragement and inspiration?

For inspiration and encouragement I read the poetry of Bob Hicok, Sierra DeMulder, Shinji Moon, Clementine von Radics, Sharon Olds, Gregory Sherl, Andrea Gibson, and more, as well as messages from my own readers. I love listening to Arcade Fire, Modest Mouse, Cloud Cult, Radiohead, The National, and Phoenix.

Amazing taste in music! Not surprising- and many of those bands write with similar themes of struggling to understand life, even the darker sides (Radiohead and Arcade Fire especially) What’s the best way for your fans to keep up with what you’re doing?

Probably reading my blog! I’ve been trying to keep it more updated and since summer is on the horizon I’ll be trying to post a new piece every day like I did last summer! J

What are your plans for 2014?

This summer I’ll be holding two jobs: a manual labor job and the second job of writing a third poetry book! This time it will be combined with photography. I love making mixed-media collage self-portraits, which are a blend of poetry and photography, so I will include a lot of those in my new book. It’ll be a busy summer for sure, but I’m looking forward to it! Then back to college in the fall.

Exciting! One of your fans, username Mysteriouswritergirl from tumblr, wants to know if you’d be interested in taking part in a poetry reading if she put one together, or in poetry readings/collaboration in general.

I’d love to do a poetry reading, but unfortunately my schedule/financial situation would likely prevent me from traveling much during college. I’ve done several collabs before though and they’ve been pretty fun, so I’d be glad to try a few during the summer.

Thank you so much, Meggie, for stopping by!

You can follow Meggie's Tumblr here:

(Neighborhood #1 by Arcade Fire)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Alexander Pope Talks Project Runway, McQueen and How to Survive in NYC

Project Runway has brought a lot of colorful people to the world's biggest stage (television!) but some of them remain in the memory longer than others. Alexander Pope, Season 12's flame-haired avant-garde king, is one of those people.

I had the pleasure of chatting with him during a fun evening in New York City recently, at which time he reminded me that it was *my* fault that we hadn't already conducted this interview (oops). Alexander has a wicked sense of humor and an insider's view of Broadway and the more playful and extreme side of fashion.

Here now is that interview I've promised everyone for so long...

First of all, this is a longtime coming—my mistake! But here we are finally. We all know you showed some gorgeous and unusual pieces on Project Runway (Season 12) but not as many people know that you made a decoy collection for the show’s NYFW finale show. You’ve said the “glamping” challenge was your inspiration, but can you tell us more about how that came out in your collection?

Well it really came down to the fact that that challenge was my favorite of them all and I really wanted to continue with that theme. The silhouette of the trees really stuck with me throughout the whole season. So when I was chosen to do a decoy collection I just thought what a perfect chance to continue with it, and the thought of having more than 8 hours to design something really interested me.

Your hair is amazing and a memorable part of your public persona. When did you find this look and was it inspired by anything?

I've had interesting and vibrantly colored hair since I hit puberty in 1885, but this style has been my go to style for awhile now and I tend to go back and forth from red to blonde. I am a child of the 80's and New Romantic has been a lasting influence with me since then, so I think that's where it comes from.

1885? Well, next time we'll have to talk about your face cream, then, because it's certainly working! What are you working on now?

Broadway still beckons! I just wrapped up making some of the costumes for Aladdin, worked on some regional ballets, made some very cool costumes for the circus and am filling reorders for shows like Lion King, Pippin, Wicked etc... now I'm starting the new Marvel Universe show that will be touring this summer, including all the famous Marvel superheroes now owned by Disney.

Is there anyone from your season of Project Runway that you’d VOLUNTARILY collaborate with?

 I'd collaborate with the majority of them, the real question is would they collaborate with ME??

What’s your best advice for curvier fashionistas that want to look great?

I think the one mistake that curvier women make when dressing themselves is not buying clothes that fit properly. I constantly see people, men and women(!) wearing clothes too big or too small. I don't care what the trend is at that moment, ill-fitting clothing is never in style.

That's probably some of the best advice all of us could follow! As someone who lives in NYC and knows where to find a delicious lamb burger, among many other things, what’s your best survival tip for someone visiting the city for the first time?

I guess I was a little obsessed with the famous Breslin Lamb burger that night, but that's what several martinis do to me!

Don't go to Times Square. That place is a bloody zoo! Haahaa... I suggest making friends with a local and do what they do. This city is amazing and has a billion things to do besides the typical tourist traps. It is the best place in the country to have the BEST food. DON'T go to big chain restaurants while you're here.
There are thousands of delicious restaurants to eat from here.

Pick one....

Oh and also don't get mugged or murdered.

Don't get mugged or murdered- check! We recently talked a bit about your feelings about Alexander McQueen since Sarah Burton took over. Can you share some of your thoughts on the state of the house with us?

As far as my limited knowledge goes, I think the state of their house is doing well without the boss. I think Ms. Burton is doing a good job, all things considered with that devastatingly harsh blow, and I can tell why she was Heir McQueen's #1. But that said, no one will ever be him and the new collections have a more soft and subtle flair. I can tell a woman designs for them now.

What’s the best way for your fans to keep up with what you’re doing?

With my Facebook (AlexanderPope) and Twitter (@AlexanderAPope). I try to update those as often as I can. But remember, I can't always share what I'm working on at the moment...

What’s your current favorite…
Store or online store? 
I don't have one at the moment. I need to find someplace new to shop...
Song or album?
I'm feeling the as-of-yet unreleased Royksopp & Robyn collaboration “Do it Again”.
Item of clothing or accessory?
I love me some pointed shoes. They will always be in style in my eyes.

Thank you, Alexander!

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