6 Questions With Dear Girl Author Aija Mayrock
Poet Aija Mayrock boasts 250 thousand followers on Instagram, where she posts powerful spoken word videos and written poems about the fierce feminine spirit and women’s empowerment. Mayrock builds on this following in the resilient and bold Dear Girl, a personal, full-length collection out from Andrews McMeel Universal earlier this August. Mayrock talked with Read Poetry about the collection, including how her followers affect her writing process and what she hopes to give back to them through her work.
Kara Lewis: Though you’ve published a previous book chronicling your experiences with bullying, this is your first book of poetry. What made you decide to change genres as a writer? What do you think poetry provides that other genres may not be able to accomplish?
Aija Mayrock: Over the last few years, I’ve fallen in love with poetry and the process of writing it. After a few years of sharing my poetry and spoken word online, I started dreaming up a collection about the journey from girlhood to young womanhood. And that dream birthed Dear Girl.
After I published my first book The Survival Guide to Bullying, I went around the U.S. and spoke to many schools and communities. I decided to write my entire experience and journey with bullying into a 10-minute poem. I would perform that poem wherever I went. That poem created space for other people to share their stories and vulnerability. I think that poetry is a genre of writing that can tell stories in a vulnerable, lyrical, and engaging manner. I think poetry has such power to share messages that resonate within the soul.
KL: Prior to publishing this collection, you also performed as a spoken word poet. How does focusing on a print collection change the process for you? How do written poetry and spoken word poetry intersect for you?
AM: I never realized how different writing for print is versus performing spoken word. For me, written poetry and spoken word intersect in a beautiful, intricate way. Written poetry must resonate from the very way you carefully lay words down and string them together.
Spoken word, for me at least, is about the way you bring your heart to the table in the moment, the intonation of the voice, and the emotion that dances within each phrase. The print collection of Dear Girl has completely changed the process for me, in that I now write very differently for print versus voice.
KL: You post your spoken word poetry and your writing on Instagram, where you have a large following. How does this community affect your experience and career as a writer?
AM: I didn’t have a large following for so many years. Now that I do, it makes me carefully think over what I post and how I edit it. There are thousands of people watching. As a writer, that’s definitely nerve-wracking. But I feel immensely grateful for my Instagram community. Their constant encouragement pushes me to continue to write and share my work.
KL: Your collection is largely about female empowerment, sisterhood, and the challenges that women still face. How does the experience of being a woman in our society inspire and influence your work?
AM: I try to remain as open as I can throughout life: listening, watching, learning, loving, and feeling. Through being open, I see and feel so much that inspires me to write about the very experience of girlhood and womanhood. The resilience, the magic, the beauty of being a woman—at all ages, at all stages in life—is deeply influential to me.
KL: Following those themes, the title of the collection is Dear Girl. Who is the “girl” you’re writing to? How did thinking of these poems as conversations and letters impact the way you wrote them?
AM: The last poem in the book reads as follows:
For those who came here seeking
I hope you found
What you were looking for.
The “girl” I am writing to is the reader who has stumbled upon this book, seeking to reclaim their power, to find their voice, and to feel their inner flame. The “girl” is inspired by my younger self, by the words I have been waiting to hear, and all the words I never heard.
In thinking of these poems as letters, conversations, and reflections I was able to travel to a more vulnerable and personal place. I hope readers will feel this place within themselves, as if I am there, speaking directly to them.
KL: What’s next for you creatively?
I recently recorded 12 new poems that are not in the book and that I’ve never performed before. I will continue to share on social media, particularly Instagram. I am also continuing to work on more writing projects, so keep an eye out for more writing from me!
Order Dear Girl here.