Poet in the Mirror: Meg Eden Kuyatt
We’re so proud to share some insight into the lives and hearts of today’s poets with our Poet In The Mirror series. This month, Meg Eden Kuyatt—author of Good Different (available now from Scholastic Press) and a past Frontier contributor—shares insight into writing a novel in verse, audiences, and writing professionally.
When did the idea for a novel in verse come to you? What were some of your inspirations?
This book came out in the worst of 2020, when my autism and anxiety felt so overwhelming in this world where people were (are) not being considerate of each other’s space and each other’s safety. I felt so overwhelmed, attacked and scared, and began writing a poem about it. In the process, I dug up an old memory of a classmate braiding my hair without my consent. But as I wrote, the speaker diverged from me and became a character. And she took action—she hit her classmate! I was so shocked but also curious: what happened? How did we get here? What happens next? That’s when I knew it wasn’t just a stand-alone poem but a novel in verse.
I never set out to write a verse novel, but as I continued forward, I began to really look to verse novels for inspiration. Toffee by Sarah Crossan was a big one that helped me through the process. Laura Shovan’s The Last Fifth Grade Class of Emerson Elementary was probably the first novel in verse I read—and the first to really plant a seed in my head that a novel in verse is possible.
Who do you hope will pick up this book?
I hope a range of folks will pick this up: kids, but also adults. Poetry lovers. Poetry skeptics. Neurodivergent folks, but also folks who are neurotypical, who maybe have a neurodivergent loved one in their life.
When did writing become a professional endeavor for you? How did that begin?
Pretty early on. In high school, at some point I decided I was serious about this and started sending my work to agents and literary magazines. I don’t remember exactly how this happened, except that in 8th grade my history teacher said I was a good writer, and when I decide I want to do something I take it very seriously!
What has been the most surprising thing—either a joyful one or a challenging one—about writing this book and ushering it into the world?
Joyful: having a teacher send me a student’s poem response to reading Selah’s story!
Challenging: this maybe isn’t quite what you’re asking, but writing the next book. And that it’s hard! This writing thing, it gets easier in some ways but in others not so much. It’s always work, and there’s always new problems. That’s just how it is.
What do you do to re-energize your creativity?
Watching and reflecting on movies. Taking a walk. Playing video games. Reading. Doing something different and non-writing related—like taking taiko drumming classes, or travelling, or going to museums. Everything is possible fuel!
What is a popular craft advice that you don’t practice yourself? (Or, what is a craft advice you absolutely stand by?)
Write every day. I already shame myself enough about being a productivity monster; I don’t need an adage to shame me more! I tend to aim more for every other day, and if words happen every day, that’s a bonus. But I burn myself out if I try to force myself to sprint all day, every day.
Meg Eden Kuyatt teaches creative writing at colleges and writing centers. She is the author of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature winning poetry collection “Drowning in the Floating World” (Press 53, 2020) and children’s novels, most recently “Good Different,” a JLG Gold Standard selection (Scholastic, 2023). Find her online at https://linktr.ee/medenauthor.