An Interview with Danielle Doby
both soft + fierce
and still be powerful
— from I Am Her Tribe by Danielle Doby
This week the Re:ad Poetry team chatted with Danielle Doby about the inspiration behind her poetry, a recent change she made on Instagram, and her upcoming book I Am Her Tribe. Read more below for inspiration, empowerment, and even a short poetry playlist.
Tell us about how you started writing poetry.
Since I was born, my grandmother and mother (both artists) fostered a safe space for creative expression. I spent most of my childhood at the art studio my mother worked at. Nothing was ever wrong or broken; I was free to be and create and share without judgement. This is how art became a language all its own for me. This language taught me that if we choose to listen close, in everything lives a story. Regardless of medium—canvas, movement, music, blank paper, my voice—there, lives poetry.
Tell us about your upcoming book I Am Her Tribe.
This is the work of my heart. These pages allow me to hold my feelings in my hands. I believe that our stories are the keys that open the door to hope in others. The meeting place where the truth finds the light. I write for my own healing. I share to meet my courage. The magic happens when someone else sees their reflection in the words. My hope is that this book is your deep exhale, a shoulder to lean on, an outstretched palm gently reminding you that you are never alone.
You recently changed your Instagram handle from @iamhertribe to @danielledoby. What was the motivation behind that change?
One of my favorite activists is Glennon Doyle Melton. She once said "Instead of being a circle, how can you be a horseshoe? Open. Always open. A horseshoe is always holding space for someone new."
I often ask myself, how can I be more open? How can this work open itself to others? Who am I currently being that is not holding space for someone new? The name change happened because I chose to listen and get curious about an experience other than my own. I chose to educate myself and discover where my words and actions were either opening or closing myself to others. When given feedback, we can choose one of three things: we can choose to ignore it, we can choose to listen and hold firmly onto our truth, or we can listen and use the information as a doorway into something new. This choice is an open door, a horseshoe—an invitation for more people to walk through.
What motivates you to speak the truth?
Freedom. When I was 16 I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. I learned at a very early age that "I am fine" was a lot easier to say than sharing my feelings. It took me years to realize that the instability of "having it all together" was just a loud invitation for me to stop and sit with my pain. When I quit running, I realized that my healing wasn't ever going to be found by disappearing; it would only come from allowing myself to be seen. So that's what I did. I started sharing my story and struggles with others. Over time, sharing helped me to stop being so scared of myself. There is a freedom there, living at the edge of our comfort when we allow our truth to exist.
What or who inspires your work?
My mother, my grandmother, my sister and my best friends: Lyndsey, Shannon and Jackie. They are my steady reminder to keep speaking up.
What do you want your readers to know?
Your story is one worth hearing, worth celebrating, worth sharing. Always hold this reminder close.
What book would you recommend to someone who is new to poetry?
Grab your headphones. Lay on the ground. Close your eyes. Then listen to these songs in order. There, you'll find the poem.
“On the Nature of Daylight,” Max Richter
“Them,” Nils Frahm
“Immunity,” Jon Hopkins
What is your writing routine or process?
My best work happens when I am moving. Travel. Deep conversation. Dancing without a care of what it looks like. Anything that ignites feeling. My teacher, Jessi, once said to me, "Emotion is energy in motion." Movement has always been the vehicle that helps me connect to the deepest, truest parts of myself.
Where is your happy place?
In the mountains. Nature holds all my secrets.
Do you think poetry is an act of reclamation? If so, what are you reclaiming when you write poetry in today’s climate?
I think it is an act of a remembering. When I look back on my creative journey, the heart core of it has always been about using my voice. Remembering my voice. My mother looked at me with tears in her eyes the other day and said, "I am so proud of you. For every time I never used my voice, god sent me you." So, maybe it isn't about me remembering only my voice. It is about remembering the voices of the women that echo before me, whose stories have watered the ground I will continue to rise from.