“Seasons: An Allegory of the Stars” is a vulnerable debut collection of poems that will take you on an emotional rollercoaster – warming, breaking, healing, and renewing your heart. Through a story stretching from Summer to Spring, each chapter takes you through the peaks and valleys on a journey of love found, lost, and rediscovered in self.
with his footsteps on the fringe of heaven
drifting aimlessly through eternity
he summoned the Universe
and begged for a companion
to paint the cosmos with memories
to breathe life into new creations
to fill the void with colors of worlds unknown
she thought the Sun might suffice but he dared not suffer Icarus’ fate
she suggested Mother Earth but he preferred to not share the weight of the world
then she presented the Rain
but he knew he would drown in her sorrows
at last the Universe proposed the Wind
as gentle as she was powerful
he had to see her for himself
the pair convened by starlight sharing tales of boundless travel
the Moon begged the Sun to stay away hoping to treasure the moment
when he refused, the Moon shifted tides and buried their thoughts deep in the ocean
the eavesdropping Rain swelled with joy as the clueless Sun returned to dry her tears
unable to explain with mere words the Rain took the Sun by the hand
and colored the sky with scarlet
and coral and saffron and jade
and cerulean and indigo and violet
the Sun basked in amazement
the day never looked so majestic
he loved everything about the Wind
from her calm caress to her careless breezing through the world
everything was perfect
until it wasn’t
Rennard Westley II is an aficionado of the stars born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. A natural storyteller, Rennard has used his imagination to weave worlds out of words for as long as he could talk. With experience serving the public in a variety of roles, including teacher, Rennard is committed to drawing lessons from his personal experiences to help others navigate life’s trials and tribulations. His debut book is a metaphorical reimagining of a past relationship – told through a boy who begs the universe for a companion and falls in love with the Wind.
How long have you been writing?
I started writing poetry and prose in my junior year of high school. Mrs. Cennie Ruley, my English teacher the next year, pushed me to find my voice. I developed a love for imagery, symbolism, personification, and extended metaphors. I had no clue how to pursue a career in writing after graduating. I wrote poetry sporadically over the years that followed – every now and then during college, a few love letters to the city of New York, a poem or two at work – but nothing major.
What inspired the book and how did it come together?
A few years ago, I experienced a dramatic breakup. I was in the midst of processing when a friend challenged me to write about it. (I was told that I couldn’t call myself a writer if I couldn’t channel my emotions into words.) So I wrote a rather lengthy poem that was both autobiographical and imaginative. The story is about an immortal boy who begs the Universe for a companion and falls in love with the wind. It covers a full life cycle of love – the discovery, the infatuation, the heartbreak, and the self-reflection that leads to healing. Though it ends with him crashing back to earth, he has no regrets.
I continued writing poetry over the next two and a half years after that relationship ended. Eventually, I gathered everything I wrote – notes on my phone, emails, napkins, journals, etc. – and compiled it all into one document with over 200 poems. I decided to break up the original poem into four overarching chapters that parallel the seasons, with the poems in-between bringing each chapter to life with its own personality and tone.
How does your book compare to other poetry books?
My book is a collection of poems that tells a narrative story of a boy falling in and out love with the wind. I was determined to make the book read like a short story if not a novel. Unlike many poetry books that are literally collections of poems in no particular order, the poems in Seasons are organized in such a way that they will immerse you in a full journey if read one-by-one, start to finish.
What difficulties did you encounter as a self-publisher?
The actual process of publishing wasn’t nearly as difficult as the process that led to creating the book. As a writer, most of my challenges were internal. In today’s digital age of instant gratification, creatives often feel pressure to rush and put out a project as soon as possible. There’s a meme I stumbled across a long time ago that says “don’t let the internet rush you” and I’ve adopted that as a mantra. I stopped rushing myself and allowed the project to breathe and evolve organically into what it is today.
I also struggled with self-prioritization and continually put other projects or collaborations ahead of my own. It took time to put myself first and to be disciplined about carving time out of my day to write. I dealt with my fair share of imposter syndrome and perfectionism, but ultimately I realized that done is better than perfect. I got the book to a point where I was proud of it regardless of the reception and that alone was as therapeutic as writing the book itself.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I believe in synchronicity more than luck. The good and bad experiences play equal role in where I am today. You could argue that I’m unlucky to have lost love in such a tragic breakup, but without that experience, this book may not be possible. I was hospitalized right after starting my Master’s program, but withdrawing from school put me on the path to becoming a writer.
I will say that, if anything, I’m lucky to have such creative and inspiring friends whose work and taste I respect enough to accept their critiques. I’m lucky to have friends who sat down with me in various phases to edit and discuss each poem. I’m lucky to have an amazing teacher who has consistently told me over the years that I could write the next great American novel. I’m lucky to have supportive parents. I’m lucky to have friends who encouraged me to keep writing over all the years.
Were there any other muses?
My daughter is a constant source of joy and inspiration. In fact, I was with her when I was initially thinking through the original poem that led to the book. We were walking into the mall and she had one of those plastic containers that typically holds a small toy (in exchange for a quarter). I asked her what she had inside. It was empty but when she opened it she said it was the wind. So, being a dad, I obliged and started flailing all over the place like a tornado hit me. The rest of the day I kept thinking about the wind – the impossibility and absurdity of trying to contain and capture it. I thought about the parallels to my ex – how she was prone to disappearing, how she was a force, how she was both gentle and powerful – capable of a caressing breeze and destruction all the same. The rest is history.
What is your goal as a writer?
My debut book launched in April of 2019. I’m looking forward to expanding it into a full series. It’s been an incredible experience to bring art into the world. Now I’m fully immersed in learning how to share my work with the world beyond friends and family. My hope is that I’ll be able to leverage my knowledge and experiences as a first-time author to create a publishing company that provides minority and under-represented authors with a platform to be discovered.
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