Symay Rhodes, author of "Poetry is Like Medicine"
What does “poetry” mean to you?
The art of writing for beauty's sake. How to convey aesthetics in word form. We've added formulaic reasoning to assess and recreate beauty, but it boils down to beauty.
How did you decide on a title for your book?
“Poetry is Like Medicine” was the concept for the title poem of the book. It, at the time of the release, was the best work I put on stage. It captured how we expect poetry to be this healing and cathartic experience, but by the time the poem is finished, we have processed and moved on. The poem becomes healing for the listener or reader more than the poet.
The book is broken into the same parts as the poem: Novocane - poems that feel good. Casts - poems that point out what is broken societally. Bandages - Poems that hurt or are emotional. Medicine - Poems that heal in a sense of connecting the content to God.
Do you have plans for other book releases in the future?
Yes, they are not fleshed out yet. I want the next books to be purposeful in ways that impact specific topics.
How long have you been teaching?
I've been a classroom teacher for 4 years, but I've worked with kids since age 14 to 15.
What pedagogical practices would you advise in the way of literature or writing?
Study your art form. Learn it to the point of strict laws and regulations. Learn to perfect the science of writing a good poem, story, article, etc. Then, break the rule you don't like.
How would you advise someone who is learning if they’re just getting started? Would it depend on their modality?
Read, listen, write, edit, touch grass, and repeat.
Experience great art. Learn what you like about it.
Try to recreate that in your own way.
Find what is not perfect and try to make it perfect.
Get real-life experiences to feed the art.
Do it all over.
What advice would you offer more experienced writers? After all, nobody’s perfect. We’re always learning.
Do the things you don't do well more. Friends don't let friends skip leg day. Become well-rounded writers. It helps expand your abilities in what you are already proficient in.
What is your personal philosophy as a teacher?
1 Corinthians 9:22 "Be all things to all people that I might save some."
A teacher's job description is "more." Whenever you think you are doing enough, more is required.
What is your personal philosophy as a writer?
Say something that hasn't been said and say it in a dope way.
I’ve read that you also do music. Are you a lyricist?
Not a good one. Poetry started as a failed attempt at being a rapper. Music is just a point of catharsis for me.
How do you feel lyricism relates to poetry? As someone who engages in both, I always like hearing different takes on this.
It's all poetry. The music is just the vehicle the words ride to be more palatable.
Do you run any programs or workshops in regards to writing?
Not currently, but I do have some brewing. I have a few available such as intro poetry, using puns, and extended metaphor.
What do you feel the importance is of hosting open mic events?
The Venue on 35th has given the community more than we can give back to it. It has literally saved more lives than I could list. The open mic in general is a pick your own adventure book. Some come for practice, others come for healing, some come to be entertained, and some have no idea why they are there, but they become family by the end of the night. That is what the open mic is for, and I do whatever I can to sustain that.
How do you decide when a piece is “finished”? I know that, for a lot of writers, it can be one of the hardest aspects.
It is finished when it's published. It is finished when your audience is connected to it and your editing of it changes their connection to it.
How do you conceptualize your works?
Ideas kinda hit me in the face. My brain works in word association, so I hear one thing and all the things associated with it start compiling themselves until I get them on the page.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Mostly conversations. I grew up around a lot of preachers and when something applicable to a sermon was said or done they'd say "that'll preach". I find myself going through life saying "that'll poem".
What is your editing process like?
Mostly editing as I write. I send poems to my friends now and get tips on what doesn't work. Performing on stage, sometimes editing there on stage. It all depends.
What editing tips do you have for our poets out there?
Ask for help. I waited way too long to start doing so.
Do you have any other thoughts or comments you would like to share with us?