Editor's Spotlight - Amelia Gotbetter "home" (and NEW BOOK!)
This Editor's Spotlight is a little different. Today we are highlighting one of our early contributors who just published her first book of poetry! Amelia Gotbetter's poem "home," which was previously published by The Weight Journal, is included in her new chapbook when i was six . This is a beautiful collection of lyric poems, full of vibrant images and a depth of nuance, which allows readers to immerse themselves in each moment, as if stepping into a lucid dream.
"when i was six chronicles a coming of age story and a grappling with self identity through poetry. the collection of poems is divided into three chapters, illustrating stages along the path to adulthood. the poems address a reckoning with the passage of time, consciousness, memory, relationships, and personal spirituality."
Below is a brief interview with Amelia about her writing and her book, as well as a sample from her collection.
An interview with Amelia Gotbetter
In general, what inspires your writing the most, and what inspired when i was six in particular?
I am inspired by particular moments in my everyday life. I find myself highlighting moments that appear ordinary and mundane, but carry profound power and weight in the way I’ve experienced them. With this collection I was repeatedly drawn to certain memories and images in my childhood, many of which I had not realized had been so ingrained in my consciousness. I became fascinated by the passage of time, and the way every moment could be deeply impactful to the formation of my future self without me even realizing.
When i was six is a memory bank of small moments that felt revolutionary at one point in my life, and the way they’ve shaped who I am today.
What, if anything, do you want readers to know about your about when i was six? What did your writing and revision process look like for this collection?
The creation of these poems occurred throughout the 18th year of my life, as well as all 18 years I’ve been alive. Often, my writing begins with a persistent emotion or idea that I struggle to describe or understand. Writing poetry is a device for me to break apart the complexity of what I’m feeling, and attribute language that makes sense to me.
My writing process does not have a concrete schedule, but throughout quarantine especially I’ve solidified writing as a mode of thinking that I return to any time I feel overwhelmed. In the summer I would go on runs around sunset and find myself sitting on the sidewalk, consumed by thoughts, writing down notes that later became poems.
Over the past year I collected nearly hundreds of poems, and as I noticed themes running throughout, I returned to certain pieces which later became the contents of when i was six. This entire process has been about exploring, and discovering what feels right. Early in my revision process I found myself editing the poems so that my ideas could be better understood by readers, but I later found peace with the ambiguity of my writing. In editing, I prioritized preserving a moment in time as I lived it, rather than illustrating a moment that could be easily interpreted.
What’s one random fact, idea, or statement you want to share with our readers?
For many of us right now time seems to be simply passing, and it is easy to forget that we own our own lives. My advice to anyone looking to write or create, and to anyone who feels stuck right now is to always note the instances in which you feel real joy, awe, connection. Mark these moments whenever they come, and work to recreate them through the choices you make every day.
Selections from when i was six
sh’ma it didn’t matter what words what meaning what melody you sang to me every night just because it’s who we were your voice at night was more than you know your voice to me was waking at dawn and perishing at dusk and everything entwined at its center your voice was constant in those moments and beyond wafting warmth and softness through the bedframe and above it could only be you imprinted on my hand and my chest at all hours through those circles of skin your voice followed me i don’t know it on my own at least not the same thank you.
butterfly Summer up the hill the only hill in the world it was butterfly hill it was butterfly summer it was dirt the same as my body it was the time of opening up the leaves and letting the milk out to breathe and closing eyes and wishing for butterflies for sky rain and praising the grass reaching to hips to shoulders and you can listen for their wings only if you are really truly quiet it was ladybugs as magic it was running with the frogs it was the summer of wings outlasting the sky it was the summer of the rain it was everything and no other way but this and rain that was felt inward first and only then released to the earth and only then releasing it all and
it was all right there no imagining it was racing down the hill to the barn it was faster than ever and oh so slow it was moving through the scent of the grass and leaving nothing behind it was no leaf no pond no butterfly gone it was the world propelling and body only second and simply a part of the insects and the hill and the sky and rain within and it was it was i know it was
i couldn’t guess what it would be like
how could anything recover after being torn apart from the inside out
elve foot waves
and grass ripped from its very roots
after the rain
but there it was--
exposed to us all
i couldn’t look
i had no permission
the other kids dug their fingers into the cool earth
ravaging the ground
orange and alive
they forgot it was the same earth as yesterday
even with its new uncovering
the ground had given us something wonderful
something to create anything
but i couldn’t take
i wanted the world before the rain
so as if i had the power to undo a storm
closed my eyes tight
traced that old line of ocean in my mind
let the reborn wind crawl up my spine
rewrote the old colors for tomorrow
reopened my eyes my self to the new ground
placed each foot one by one
onto the smooth uncovered earth
felt the pressure of my own self its impact on the malleable world
one two mississippi
and i stepped away
back to the softness
of the sand
back to the other side
and the ground moulded into my own
i had touched the center of the universe on a tuesday morning