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How I Self-Published a Poetry Book at 22 Years Old

posted by Joely Liriano

Letters I Never Sent by Joely LiranoI began the journey of writing my poetry book in my sophomore year at LIM College. I was staring at my computer, avoiding the many Blackboard assignments I should have been working on, and thought to myself: Just do it.

I’ve been writing silly poems since elementary school, famously rhyming the phrases “friends” and “till the end.” Joining my high school’s poetry club in 2010 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I was challenged to read my personal thoughts out loud in a welcoming environment with peers who felt just like me. I never believed that I actually had a talent, so writing poetry felt like something I could be subjectively “good” at. It was my way to ask for help, record my progress, and process the present.

Many of my friends and family would describe me as being straightforward but also passive in expressing myself. I would write exactly how someone would make me feel and still not be able to find a single word as that person stood right in front of me. I had no courage at times because I was emotionally dependent on how others viewed me. From 13 to 20 years old, I was just trying to manage the changes in my life. These changes felt like bricks thrown at my house made of twigs, having to start over each time to build it back up. Eventually, I figured out that I could embrace those same bricks to create a more solid foundation.

This is how the title Letters I Never Sent: Thus Never Received came about: I would write to people without ever taking the letters to the post office.

In the two years of working on the book, I found myself losing close relationships in my life. It was very rough because going to college out of state was already a large transition. I would go months without writing and then suddenly have spontaneous rushes of constant journaling. The pressure of having multiple jobs and being a full-time college student felt so suffocating to my creativity. When I was working on my poetry book, I felt like I was finally completing something for ME. In the quest of figuring out your life’s path and starting your professional career, you begin to give a lot of yourself away to others. It was exciting to look forward to completing something that is 100% authentically me. The intention was to share myself in decorated analogies throughout a 60-page poetry book.

Letters I Never Sent is a portion of myself that I am proud of. What I want readers to take away from my book is: You are more than your current situation; don’t fear changing into something greater than what you know.

Topics: books, self discovery, student life, LIM Alumni, poetry