Hello readers and welcome back to my little corner of the internet! Today I am interviewing author and poet Cynthia Cisneros who has been a friend of mine on Instagram for over the past several months. In August, she published her first poetry collection Chaotic Silence and was so kind to send me a copy. Today I am asking her questions about what being an “Instagram poet” means to her, her journey that allowed her to write this book, some of her favorite poems, and what publishing was like.
I am so excited to have Cynthia has my first guest on my blog for this series on Instagram Poets.
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CHAOTIC SILENCE is the debut poetry book by Cynthia Cisneros. Divided into three sections: 2016, 2017, and 2018.”She lives in her mind where she’s brainwashed to worship decades of chaotic silence of cherry-red darkness outlining her ribs.”
LYDIA: The first thing I noticed about your book and loved was the formatting of each poem. What made you decide to format your poems so creatively and differently from one another?
CYNTHIA: At the very beginning when I first wrote my poems, they were formatted way more differently and as time gradually passed, I ended up changing how I was formatting it, and after so many revisions, they ended up being the way they look now. I just thought they look aesthetically pleasing to my eye and thought that is how they were supposed to appear as the end product. It’s like it felt complete the way it was viewed.
LYDIA: Are there any poems that are particularly special or meaningful to you? Or are there any poems you’d like to talk about writing specifically? (I know this is a hard question to ask you haha. Like asking you to pick a favorite child.)
CYNTHIA: I can’t say I have a favorite poem(s). I do believe every poem is special to me in its own way. However, the ones that stood out to me the most and meant a lot to me were the poems about my sexuality, depression, and grief found in the section, 2018. “Let Me Be”, “Ribcaged Lavender”, “Cotton Candy Lovers”, “Orpheus Girl”, and “Disclosure” are my sapphic poems. These poems portray my viewpoint of my emotions. This is a topic that is difficult to speak about since I am not officially out to family. It was difficult to even write these and many others and publish them due to my fear of my family finding out. However, there comes a time where you need to stop caring what others may think and just live. Also, the poem I am referring to when I say depression is called, “Step Out Of My Conscience”. This one underwent so many changes and was heavily edited. In this poem, I portray Death as a man stalking its prey and is the one who drives the speaker to suicide. I wrote Death to be a villain in this poem, when in reality it was my suicidal thoughts that was driving me, metaphorically, to jump over that ledge in the poem. “Witches Vibe” is a poem written in 3rd person to distance myself from this poem. It expresses how despite the signs of suicide the person displays, the people surrounding them will choose to not address it. The poem “August 2012” was based on my older sister’s burial. There is a lot of regret and grieving tones in this one. The detail in this poem is exactly what happened that day. I like this poem, despite the forever sadness it entails, it was a reality that stuck with me since then. So, I thought it visually expresses the feeling I felt on paper.
LYDIA: What do you think of the term “Instagram poet” and do you consider yourself one?
CYNTHIA: I never really gave much thought to the term “Instagram poet”. However, now that you’re asking, the first thing that pops up in my mind is a poet who regularly posts on Instagram and frequently writes poetry and knows how to spread their poetry in this specific online platform. I am a poet. However, I can’t say I would be considered an Instagram poet because I hardly ever post my poetry. Sometimes I would post on my personal account, but even the poetry on there is pretty scarce.
LYDIA: In the introduction to your collection, you talk about how your mind has always been a chaotic place. Did writing these poems, putting them in order and publishing them help you feel less chaotic? How did putting this collection together help you as a person?
CYNTHIA: Yes, when I first wrote these poems, I wanted to gain or in this case, regain agency and order back into my life and mind. The words I wrote in my notebooks helped me control the chaos, mentally and emotionally. It was a creative outlet that helped me get distracted from the suicidal thoughts that were coming into my mind frequently and unexpectedly.
LYDIA: Okay I want to talk about the cover for a second because it is absolutely stunning. Can you tell me and the blog readers about what the cover means for you and who designed it?
CYNTHIA: When I contacted my 2nd cover designer, Kat Savage from Savage Hart Book Services, she was quite professionally and very creative and through this work ethic she was able to create the cover and bring it to life. I always wanted a woman in the cover and had the universe surrounding her. I wanted the watercolors on the cover to appear bruised-like. In a way, it looks fitting because if you think about it, it’s as if the woman on the cover, like me, is healing. She tilts her head upwards and appears calm and hopeful.
LYDIA: Each of your poems has a date on them. Did you date each poem as you wrote them? You mentioned in your introduction that it felt strange editing poems in 2019 that you had written in the three years preceding it. Does it feel even stranger now to read poems you edited last year?
CYNTHIA: Yes. I did date each poem as I finished writing them. I didn’t want to forget when I wrote them, and it was a written reminder of what days were passing by. When you have this sadness that never wants to leave you, it becomes a heavy paperweight on your chest and mind, it gets hard to remember what days you live in. The dates helped me remember the days I was living. It was like my calendar.
Also, yes, it felt strange editing my poetry in 2019 because I wasn’t the same person who I was in the previous years. We are always changing and improving ourselves. Therefore, at that point of time when I was editing, my depression vanished. It felt like one day I woke up and I felt refreshed. I don’t know how to describe it, but I almost felt whole again. Absolutely yes. It really does feel strange reading my old poetry. I felt so detached from these poems that I didn’t know if I should have published them in the first place because I did not feel that way in 2019. But since my depression is slowly coming back, I am starting to understand these poems again and why I wrote them.
LYDIA: What is next for you? In the acknowledgements of your book you mention an upcoming novel. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
CYNTHIA: Yes. To be specific, there is a supernatural YA novel I have been writing since I was in high school; however, due to several reasons in my life I always decide to procrastinate in finishing it. This summer I was supposed to finish editing it but I ended up writing this new novel about these three completely different female protagonists who at the beginning of the story makes the reader wonder what they have to do with each other but then you slowly realize how they have way more in common than they believe. As you read it, you come to realize that they are running away because they do not want to get drafted into a war that they want no part of.
LYDIA: Thank you, Cythina for joining me on my blog and for being a wonderful friend on Instagram. Is there anything you would like to add that you think the readers of this post should know?
CYNTHIA: I would really hope readers will give my poetry book a chance because I am hoping as much as this book helped me get distracted to want to live these past few years, I would hope it would lead someone to gain a distraction and understanding of these poems and somehow feel better mentally and emotionally. And let them know whatever they feel is valid. And they will get through anything they’re going through.
Although I wanted this poetry book to be open to interpretation to the reader, I wanted to point out that it is not a memoir. The themes are as real as it gets but most of these poems, I have not personally happened to me. My poetry is inspired by many things and people and events. As well as writing prompts have helped me write these poems. In addition, I love writing a story within my poems and have the reader visualize what’s happening in the poem itself.