In less than two years, Arch Hades has become one of Britain’s most successful Instapoets. Here, she discusses her rise to social stardom and the heartbreaking catalyst behind it.
By Lucy Bryson for SWNS
SWNS: How and why did you begin writing poetry? Were you already actively writing before you began publishing online? Which poets influenced you most while growing up?
Arch Hades (AH): I began writing when I was 16, under the mentorship of Oliver James, who is an incredible author himself, and someone who I admire and trust. But as we all know, life gets in the way, and I’ve only really been able to focus on writing poetry more recently. I only decided to start posting some of my work online after High Tide was published in July 2018 and I’m glad to receive a warm response.
I had a difficult time growing up within the confines of a boarding school, where I didn’t fit in as well as I’d hoped, so I turned to literature for solace, but luckily, the rich world of literature was enchanting. Byron, Keats, Tennyson, Emerson, Thoreau, Brodsky, Turgenev, the list goes on. How easy it is to get lost in their words.
SNWS: It has been suggested that the term ‘Instapoets’ is disparaged by some in poetry circles. What are your thoughts about the term and are you happy to be labelled in this way?
AH: I won’t for a second take offence to being called an Instapoet. I’m just a poet who shares their work on that platform. We live in a sharing society, Instagram has done wonders for poetry, not only has it helped people connect to this form of expression, it has done so very successfully and on such a large scale that I will gladly applaud the medium for this revival.
SWNS: How important is visual imagery to the poetry that you write?
AH: I appreciate that Instagram is a very visual medium, and I see the sense in other poets accompanying their words with sketches or pictures etc, but I only use Instagram as one tool to promote my poetry, and overall I want to keep my poetry stand-alone. I want to exercise people’s imagination when they read my words, I don’t want to put images in their heads. That said, I do like to post photos of my travels on Instagram, but I keep them separate from my poetry.
SWNS: How would you describe your emotional state at the time of writing the works included in High Tide?
AH: It’s been a difficult two years. I had an unpleasant divorce; I changed careers; almost moved countries; lost loved ones and survived some difficult relationships. I believe everyone can relate to love and loss, in whatever forms they come. Whatever and whoever the world has taken from me, the world has given me so much more, and for that I’ll always be grateful. I just wanted to express all my emotions with words while they were unfolding.
SWNS: How important was travel and writing in overcoming your heartbreak?
AH: Travel gives you perspective. The more you travel, the more you realise there’s no such thing as ‘better’ or ‘worse’, things are just different. I believe it can open your eyes to all sorts of beauty and make you more grateful. I remember standing on the tall cliffs of Beauport (Jersey) and just thinking to myself – looks at these beautiful cliffs, they were here before me, and they will be here long after me, they don’t care about my problems, my problems are not real problems, and somehow, this feeling of something infinite, something beyond me, it cured me.
SNWS: Why do you think your work resonates with people worldwide, especially those who may not otherwise not describe themselves as devotees of poetry?
AH: I understand poetry is niche, I understand it’s not for everyone. But I’ll do my best to try and make it as accessible as possible, so that people can chime with it, so that people can reflect on it and see a part of them in it. And that’s what I seek to do – to connect with people through universal emotions that I’m sure we’ve all felt at one point – love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, acceptance, mortality.
SWNS: How did you manage to grow your presence online – was it a case of your poems going viral, or did word spread slowly?
AH: I’m afraid I can only speak for myself on this topic – it just comes down to knowing your audience and being true to whatever message you want to send out there. I would recommend always being honest, being consistent and giving your audience something original. But also, if you can get a popular topical account to re-gram you, always helps.
SWNS: Do you have any advice for other aspiring poets looking to find an audience online?
AH: My biggest piece of advice is – content first. Focus on the poetry, let your work speak for you. Without solid work, you’re wasting your time. Always keep writing, creating, producing; this is not a half-hearted genre. My second piece of advice is – be original. If it’s been done before, don’t do it; don’t bore your audience. Of course, you can draw inspiration from others, everyone in literary history impacts one another and draws from each other, but be true to you, be original in your own way. Ask yourself what makes you and your work unique and find a way of expressing that in a way that will be relatable.
SWNS: Who do you think your collection will appeal to, and what do you hope readers will take away from it?
AH: Anyone who wants to feel less alone in their heartaches, I suppose. I believe poetry is for everyone and can be enjoyed by anyone. Poetry is a mood, it’s an emotional state. We sometimes need that to awaken us, sometimes to comfort us. High Tide is an emotional crossing from heartbreak to peace and acceptance. If you’re looking to share in that state, I hope my poetry will appeal to you. I was hoping people might find solace in High Tide, that they might even find it uplifting in the end. But I understand that poetry is open to interpretation and no one is wrong.
Kurt Vonnegut, one of my most favourite authors, once wrote a piece of advice that follows: “write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the whole world your story will get pneumonia”. I wrote High Tide for someone very special.
High Tide: Poetry & Postcards by Arch Hades is an original collection of poignant and relatable poetry about love and loss, which capture a troubled year in the life of the author. It is available now on Amazon UK priced £5.99 in paperback and £4.99 as an eBook. Follow Arch on Instagram @archhades.