Paola Dejesus is an incredibly talented poet who recently released her debut collection, Blood & Ambrosia. This raw, gripping collection details a year in Paola’s life, covering topics like escaping abuse, self-love, and parenthood. It truly is a collection that you don’t want to miss. As a reader and an author, I can honestly say that these pieces give me chills, bring me to tears, and wash me with hope and empowerment. It’s some of the greatest poetry I’ve ever read.
Today, I get to ask Paola some questions that I’m sure every reader wants to know!
How long did it take you to complete Blood & Ambrosia?
It took me about a year to complete. I wrote the very first poem in September of 2017 and the very last poem in September of 2018.
Did you always know that you wanted these poems to be a collection, or did the inspiration hit partway through writing them?
I started writing poetry just to vent. One of my best friends dared me to write fifty poems under the same theme (Greek myths) and I pushed myself to make it to 100. It was then I realized that making a collection of poetry was something I really wanted to do.
What inspired you to use mythology as a poetic parallel to your own life?
Honestly? A summer long reading mostly Percy Jackson, coupled with my own personal obsession with Greek myth. When I wrote ‘Poseidon Girl’, I remember I’d gone to the beach and I’d just finished talking to a friend about a few things I’d gone through and that line “saltwater runs through her veins” came to mind and the rest is history.
How did you know the collection was complete? Was it a certain number of poems, a page count, a gut feeling, or something else entirely?
I had made it to one-hundred and two poems when I realized I’d surpassed my goal, even by two. It took me a while to feel that I ended it in a way that felt true to me. The collection isn’t linear, my healing was/is so up and down and I felt it would’ve been inauthentic to write it as such. So that last poem, it changed many times before I felt it was right.
Who is your favorite god/goddess from mythology?
Persephone, hands down!
Have you always wanted to be a poet, or do you enjoy other forms of writing as well?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was a kid but I also love writing stories. I’ve written so many unfinished stories, completing Blood & Ambrosia was even more special because of that.
Can you give us a peek into your writing process? Do you have any set place/time that you like to write?
I will write wherever inspiration hits, but for editing I need to be in my room with some music on. I keep a notebook pertaining to that specific work with notes and in the example of Blood & Ambrosia, I had every god, goddess, and hero/demigod I wanted write about or thought I might want to write about. The only one I didn’t touch was the demigod, Theseus.
If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?
I think I would wish for the complete erasure of college debt, the ability to speak in any language I wanted, and a library of my own.
What are your favorite writing beverages and snacks?
There’s a drink from the island called Malta. I drank that a lot while writing. As for snacks, I’m surprised my fingers aren’t perpetually stained red from eating Chester’s hot fries.
What is something you want readers of Blood & Ambrosia to know about you?
I’m not sure if this counts but I would want them to know that writing this collection was healing for me, but it was also an act of defiance against someone who’d hurt me for so long, who had tried so hard to keep me from writing and achieving my goals. It’s spite in poetic form. If I can prove them wrong and turn my dreams into reality, then anyone can!
Can we expect more poetry (or other published works) from you in the future?
Yes! I’m planning on two more poetry collections. I’ve been writing a work of fiction for nearly four years. It’s definitely my dream to see it published.