Tumblr, like a lot of social media sites, has offered young creatives a place to gain a following and blossom. Poets are no exception to this rule. The moment I came across her poems I felt joy, she is someone who says the words I am not brave enough to say to myself. When it comes to relationships, young girls can often feel small and be quiet but Trista speaks for us in her works. Here is my conversation with her.
1. Tell us about yourself and why you are beautiful.
My name is Trista Mateer. I’m a full-time poet and writer currently living in Austin, TX although I bounce around a lot. I won the Goodreads Choice Award for poetry in 2015 with my book The Dogs I Have Kissed and am almost always working on my next manuscript or crying in an airport or writing something about crying in an airport. And to be frank, I’m not all that concerned with the concept of beauty. Maybe it’s not important when it comes to my career as a writer. Maybe I just don’t want to think about it because I woke up ten minutes ago and we’re conducting this interview in my pajamas. Beauty has its time and place but it’s not something I always have to be.
2. Why and what specifically do you write?
I write because I have to. I write because it pays the bills and because I need to eat and because I feel wrong when I’m not putting words on paper. Mostly these days I’m known for my confessional-style free-verse poetry, or to put it bluntly, “dragging my exes on the internet”. Someone compared me to Taylor Swift in that way once and I don’t know if they were right, but if I deny it, it looks like I’m protesting too much. I also cover topics like sexuality and familial relationships and mental health but the popular stuff is definitely the relationship tell-all type.
3. Do you have any published works?
I’ve currently published four full-length collections and one smaller poetry chapbook. The most notable is probably the most recent one, Before the First Kiss, put out by Words Dance Publishing a couple months ago. I had sort of dated another poet and things fell apart a bit, but we’d both been writing the whole time. That’s what poets do, you know? So we had this sort of catalog of poetry correspondence. Almost like conversational love letters. We edited it and in the middle of the fallout, decided to publish it. It’s exceptionally honest and it was really hard to put together.
There’s also Honeybee, which is a collection of poems about letting go, The Dogs I Have Kissed, which is about a fear of intimacy and kissing the wrong people and sometimes just being the wrong person, Small Ghost, which is a brief narrative about depression and anxiety told from the perspective of a ghost, and [redacted] which was a collection of poetry and fragments and iPhone notes and blackout poems all written and compiled during the month of April 2016 during National Poetry Month’s poem-a-day challenge. It’s a little different from my previous works and covers more topics. I usually stick to trying to tell some kind of overarching story throughout the collection but here I took a step away from that.
4. Any advice for young authors?
Write whatever you need to write. Write for yourself. Switch up your style. Read everything you can get your hands on.
5. Why and how has Tumblr helped you as a poet?
I had a voice and Tumblr allowed me a platform. It was the first place I tried sharing my work and it’s still the place I share most of my new pieces first. I started out completely unknown and have been able to build a brand and a wonderful, reliable audience because of Tumblr. I know other poets have found success with other social media like Instagram or Twitter but that’s just not where it happened for me.
6. So what’s next?
I have a new chapbook (a very short collection of poetry put together by hand) coming out around the middle of January. It’s called Instead of Writing Our Breakup Poem and it’s in my usual aggressively-honest confessional style, detailing all the things I have done to avoid closing the book on a relationship. Once you write the breakup poem, it’s really over. It took about a year or so for me to be okay with that and these poems were all written during that period where I was shamelessly putting it off. It’s a limited print. There will only ever be 250 sold. Each one will be numbered and signed, and you can grab one at tristamateerpoetry.com.
You can connect with Trista on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr @tristamateer.