In 2021, Writing alumnx Amber Rose Crowtree (’17) saw the publication of her debut chapbook, Harboring the Imperfect (Dancing Girl Press), and her memoir in poems, The Inviolable Hours (Finishing Line Press). In a recent interview, we spoke to Amber Rose Crowtree about her poetry, her recent collections, and her advice for her peers looking to submit and publish their works.
ON WHAT DRAWS HER TO POETRY
I appreciate how the poetic form can be a space where, in a brief amount of time, may sing volumes of unsaid eternal words. It’s how my poems tend to happen. Nature (animals of all kinds, the seasons, weather, light and darkness, etc.) provides me messages in subtle ways that help guide my everyday life; these keep me whole and humble in my own displacements. These are often the themes in my poems—learning my role as human and hoping for balance with it all.
ON HER DEBUT CHAPBOOK, HARBORING THE IMPERFECT
Harboring the Imperfect is a collection from some of my favorite poems. I think the central theme is the search for Self: realizing human insecurities amongst the beautiful yet unpredictable and ugly elements of Nature—accepting the fact of imperfections. Mostly, it is about beauty. I am also the artist for the cover. I chose this painting, titled “Rebirth,” amongst my vast collection of paintings to honor perpetual motion and the symbolism of the spiral in seashells, ocean tides, the universe, the continuance of life, regardless of fears or complacent-times.
ON HER 2021 MEMOIR IN POEMS, THE INVIOLABLE HOURS
The Inviolable Hours is from poems I’ve created in the past two decades. I conducted this chapbook in two sections: I. early years/ II. adult years. I chose poems that I hope communicate with a budding poet, a current poet, or one who is destined to be, to recognize the early signs of this overwhelming but precious gift and to utilize it.
I realized, in my early twenties, that my poems sought my childhood at random. Questions surfaced then of where and why I began writing poetry and drawing/painting in the first place. I am the second-to-last sibling in a family of six, plus our parents. I tend to remember things that others do not, and this is normal in a large family, especially for the quiet one on the sidelines looking in. I want to know who I am, where I began, even if the truth hurts. Harmless humor also played a huge role in my rearing. I had a marvelous childhood, but not without the bruises. So, The Inviolable Hours honors this quest.
I am also the cover artist for The Inviolable Hours. This self-portrait, titled “Birth,” began as a sketch in my daily journal at age twenty-two. I transcribed it into an 11×17 acrylic painting a decade later. I am naked, yet not vulnerable—I am rooted between earth and the dawn of poems…the inviolable yet brief hours.
ON HER HOPES FOR THE IMPACT OF HER POETRY
I hope that my poems inspire people, youth to adult, to simply pay attention to this world and universe (micro/macro) around them and be humble in these mysteries. Don’t fear the past, learn from it. Please recognize beauty in both light and dark, it is often urgent and fleeting.
ON HER ADVICE FOR SUBMITTING YOUR WORK
Before submitting a manuscript, wait and listen to your poems. Read them out loud to yourself, cover to cover, as if you are a reader who’s never read them before. Love your work and know its importance. If my own poems do not bring me chills or tears each time I read them, I do not send them out there. Read and love the publication you are sending to, but not to the extent of a “one-sided relationship.” If your manuscript is rejected the first time, realize the fact that you have a complete collection in hand to send to other potential editors.