The Journey of Becoming a Poet with Melody Godfred
In 2021 I officially became a traditionally published poet with the release of my book, Self Love Poetry: For Thinkers & Feelers, which I thought made me a poet with a capital P. But the truth is, with or without the publishing deal, I have always been and always will be a poet. It took me a long time to understand this. Poet is not what I do; Poet is who I am.
When I first self-published a book back in 2011, it felt more like a funeral than a birth. I felt so much shame for not getting in through the front door; for not being selected for the prize that is a publishing deal. Instead, I had to do it myself, the second-class way. Or at least that’s how I saw it at the time. My journey towards reclaiming who I am—Poet—has required doing away with my judgments about how things need to happen in order to be valid.
During my adolescence, poetry was how I made sense of my world. I wrote poems about what I was going through, and even what my friends were going through (oh so many poems about teenage heartbreak). Poetry was my love language. Even while detouring through several respectable yet misaligned careers as a lawyer and entrepreneur, the poet in me always found a way to break through, in poems written on the corners of law briefs, in my journals, in my notes app. The more I wrote, the more I felt like me—so I never stopped. My essence as a poet first publicly re-emerged on Instagram, and then in the form of a self-published book, Self Love Poetry: For Thinkers & Feelers, but this time without shame (oh the power of self-love). That self-published book is what ultimately got me the coveted publishing deal, the one I thought would make me a poet with a capital P. I thought it would change everything—but it didn’t. Turns out, a poet is always a poet—I just needed to remember who I was.
My poetry, and how I share my poetry, is always evolving because who I am and how I see the world is ever-evolving. After Self Love Poetry: For Thinkers & Feelers came The Shift: Poetry for a New Perspective, which documented the shifts we collectively made during the pandemic. And now, I’m sharing my poetry in a completely new way through Self Love Confidential, my new substack newsletter and self-love community. Regardless of the medium, regardless of the theme, a poet is always a poet.
I recently stumbled upon a book in my home library that I had completely forgotten about: Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans (1994 edition). Within that book, I found my first published poem, from when I was only 11. My teacher had recognized my passion for writing poetry early on and had submitted my work for publication. Despite becoming a full-time poet in my late thirties, I had completely forgotten about its existence. I had been a published poet all along. A poet is always a poet.