24-year old Javier Rivera a.k.a @a.fellow.poetry is slowly but surely taking over the Instagram scene with his deeply honest and sometimes erotic word play. His debut poetry collection, The Girl and her Petals, released in December of 2017 and now with over 20K followers, Javier has made a name for himself within the poetry community however he prides himself on staying true to his roots. It's important for him to be accessible to his followers and dedicates the majority of his free time interacting with the very people who support him along his poetic journey.
Born and raised on the east coast of Florida, Javier is now a licensed practical nurse in the United States Army based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. First setting his pen to paper poetically while in training for the Army, Javier hasn't looked back since and just over a month since his debut release date, he is already hastily working on his second book project.
Javier allowed me the opportunity to ask him questions about his personal journey as well as the path he took to release his first project. Catch Part 1 of the January Spotlight Interview below where Javier opens up the door to his past and invites in for a seat to his future.
You are Tribe of Poets first male author spotlight. What is like being a male in a community dominated by females? Is there a sense of camaraderie amongst the men of the community?
I don’t really pay attention to it too much honestly. I’m very focused on my next project and pieces that I’m working on that anything else besides that I would consider just a distraction. And sadly, I haven’t noticed any sense of camaraderie amongst us men. It seems like they all just keep to themselves like I do. Who knows maybe we can change that but at the same time connecting with my followers and focusing on my work is a very big part of who I am as writer.
Describe the first time you wrote a poem. How old were you? Do you remember where you were or what sparked you to do so?
The very first time I wrote a poem I was in the army. I found that I didn’t have much time while I was training to continue writing short stories so I gave poetry a shot. I was 23 at the time and decided to write a poem about breaking free from someone that was holding me back in ways I didn’t understand until I was let go from them. It was poem about my ex because at the time I still had all these bottled up emotions that I desperately needed to let go of.
Tells us about your writing style. Do you prefer long/short form? Why?
I will always prefer short style because there’s a certain challenge about saying such few words and still managing to find a gut-wrenching impact. However, I also enjoy long form and the beauty of having so much to say, there’s just something so special about building up to the point you’re trying to get across. Long form guarantees you the impact that you want your reader to feel. I don’t look down on either form and I think people that do are really denying themselves a good experience.
Do you have a writing process and if so, what does it consist of?
I’m pretty sure my “writing process” would be considered just pure madness because I have no specific routine. However, I do mostly write them on my phone and I can write in any environment. But most of the time, I do my writing at my bed.
Where do find the inspiration to write? Does it come from your own life experiences or from watching/listening others?
I gain my inspiration a lot from my own personal experiences and women I almost dated that were too hurt to believe in love from the past guys they loved. I also gain inspiration from personal favorites like RM. Drake, Lang Leav, RH. Sin and Rupi Kaur.
What are some of your favorite topics to write about? What are some topics you have a hard time writing on?
Some of my favorite topics to talk about is trying to find strength in all the hopeless situations we find ourselves in. I think the hardest topic will always be the personal ones that I haven’t really dove into yet like my mother, father and brother however I will be touching on those in my next project.
Share with us a time or experience that made you fall into writing and how it helped you heal or cope with the circumstance. What did being able to write out your emotions mean to you in those moments?
The time I fell in love with writing most was when I wrote my book (The Girl and her Petals) because I was going through a romantic situation at the time and I was really struggling containing my emotions. It was very healing to write them because they were able to create a sense of closure for me which I needed deeply in those moments of suffering.
When did you first make the jump to posting your poetry to social media? What was your intention or goal when you decided to create your account?
I first made the jump when I was in nursing school and I had been experiencing writer’s block for months. I was depressed during that period of time and one day I just decided to pick the pen up again. It was the hardest thing to do and I think it would be for anyone honestly but I did it and I couldn’t stop after that. I felt such relief and from there I just started posting them on my personal account without fear. I didn’t really have intentions when I first started posting until I realized people felt a lot of the same pain that I did. That’s when I decided to make a new account and dedicate it to my poetry.
How do you deal with the stress of the Instagram algorithm and things being made harder for poets to grow their following and engagement? What is one tip you can share that could maybe help someone with their own growth?
I didn’t start learning there was an algorithm to all this madness until I hit probably like 4K followers. I didn’t really find it stressful until people started talking about it excessively. But honestly, I think it’s just distracting and people are getting too caught up in getting “big.” I’ll admit I easily became a victim of this too but you must remember why you started writing in the first place and always keep true to those roots. It’s something very important to remember and follow and I think that’s why a lot people enjoy my writing and it keeps growing. One tip I can give however is to start engagement groups with your fellow writers and like/comment on their posts as it will bring more traffic to their page and your own. Help each other out! I think this algorithm is a big detriment to the poetry community but we can easily overcome it if we all support each other.
Do you think social media created a platform or paved a way for writers? If so, how? What are some positives and negatives about social media for writers?
Yes, if you create a big enough following you can create such purposeful impacts on the world like Rupi and Drake. The positives about social media is that everyone has a chance to become someone inspirational to the world. The negatives is that there’s a lot of competition and Instagram’s algorithm makes it even more difficult to gain the exposure you deserve.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who just created their Instagram and is looking to get into the poetry community? What do you wish someone would have told you when you first made your account?
Learn the hashtags! Use all 30 and the most popular ones. Follow big instagramers and pay attention to the hashtags they use. Create fun themes, get involved and into engagement groups. This community is very welcoming and willing to teach you. Even still, never forget why you started writing in the first place. I wish someone would have expressed that to me repeatedly as it is very easy to get caught up in the hunger for likes, comments and followers.
Who is one IG writer/poet that has really influenced you and has impacted either your life or just your writing style. Name a classic writer (dead or alive) that has done the same for you.
Even though it has changed recently, I will still give credit to RH.Sin because he was the one that really got me into writing . Him and I share very similar views which is why I think I connect with him so much. The classic writer I can think of that I have even bothered to read is everyone’s favorite - Bukowski.
If you are not working or writing, where can one find you and what would you be doing? Do you have any other passions besides poetry?
You can either find me working out at the gym, drinking with friends or just playing some computer games. I think the only true passion I have after poetry is dedicating a lot my time to interacting with my followers and giving advice. As much as it is draining it's also rewarding. I really do try my best to keep myself grounded and not seem so out of reach that so you won’t be afraid to message me just because of my number of followers.
What is one long term goal that you have? (It does not have to be specific to writing)
One long term goal I have is to write numerous books throughout my contract in the army. I am currently working on one right now!
What would you want to tell your 15-year-old self?
I would tell him to stop worrying about all the things you’re not good at and just focus on yourself and not care about anyone else. That one day you will find something that you’re good at and everything will fall into place, maybe not in the way you hope but better.
What is one fun fact about yourself that your readers would be surprised to hear.
I think one fun fact is that I’m relatively a happy person outside of my poetry! For the most part, I leave all the pain and frustration right there in front of everyone to read and then I just walk away from it.
stay tuned for part two of the author spotlight interview where Javier takes gives us the inside scoop on how his debut poetry collection, The Girl and her Petals, came together!
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love & light,