7 Questions With Velvet Dragonflies Author Billy Chapata
Best-selling author Billy Chapata writes with his mantra “turn your flaws into flowers” in mind. In other words, the poet—who has over 300 thousand followers on Instagram and recently published his third poetry collection, Velvet Dragonflies—strives to express a beautiful message of self-growth and self-love, as well as pass that theme down to his many readers. Read Poetry chatted with Billy about the inspiration behind Velvet Dragonflies, his writing process, and his advice for fellow poets.
Kara Lewis (KL): Prior to this collection, you wrote and published Flowers on the Moon and Chameleon Aura. How does this book continue that poetic journey, and how does it divert from it?
Billy Chapata (BC): Velvet Dragonflies continues that poetic journey by reinforcing lessons of growth, hope, and self-love in a similar, but different, way than the first two. Chameleon Aura was more about the soul, Flowers On The Moon was more about the mind, and Velvet Dragonflies is more about the body. Instead of diverting, I’d like to think this book wraps it all together with a nice little bow—books for the mind, body, and soul.
KL: This collection is broken into five sections: Viscose, Koigu, Damask, Charmeuse, and Landing. What do these sections represent to you, and why did you decide to structure the collection this way?
BC: The opening four sections represent and explore different levels of softness. I think in different phases of our lives, the level of kindness, compassion, and love we show ourselves will need to change. Stages of your life will require a different level of softness from you and that is why I decided to structure it that way—to show that the journey back to yourself will always feel different. The fifth section offers a momentary pause to take all of that in. It’s a reflection of sorts, to give your wings a breather.
KL: Though several of these poems incorporate more traditional line breaks and stanzas, many of them are prose poems. What appeals to you about this approach to writing poetry?
BC: I love writing in prose because it allows me to dive deeper into my thoughts, without limiting my creativity or backing myself into a mental cul-de-sac. I can flow freely and really expand on the image I’m trying to paint or the story I am trying to tell.
KL: This collection merges poetry with advice and personal growth. How do these genres overlap for you? What makes poetry an ideal form through which to reach an audience and pass down wisdom?
BC: I’ve always looked at it as a seamless synergy between the two, because people find advice and personal growth within poetry unintentionally. Even if it’s a vague passage—something short and symbolic, or a haiku, for instance—I think poetry offers a level of depth and intimacy that not many other art forms can.
KL: A big theme of this collection is quieting outside influences to focus on finding your own voice. How did you learn to do this, and how does this deep connection with your inner self inform your writing process?
BC: I wouldn’t say that this is something I’ve mastered, but it’s something I’m always learning to do. Meditation certainly helps, as well as intentional “me time” with my thoughts. It allows me to be a little more selfish when it comes to my writing, which is liberating. There’s nothing better than being in a space where your thoughts aren’t being filtered by energy that doesn’t belong to you. That’s when your purest and best writing comes out.
KL: What’s the main thing you hope readers take away from this collection?
BC: I hope readers take away that it’s never too late to make a return back to yourself if you lose your way. The path back can be rough, it can be exhausting, it can be debilitating, but it doesn’t always have to be. Hopefully the pages in this collection can be a reminder of that.
KL: What advice would you give to aspiring poets?
BC: Write for you: your inner child, the healed version of you, your past self, whoever. Write for you and you’ll be surprised at how many people are looking for a voice that echoes theirs, a voice just like yours. Write for you, write consistently, write unapologetically, and the magic will follow.
Order Velvet Dragonflies here.