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The Canadian poet with a massive Instagram following has published his first book, “Love Her Wild.”

Atticus is a masked poet who gained his popularity from Instagram by posting short poems and epigrams. He currently has 490,000 followers, including celebrities like Emma Roberts and Karlie Kloss. He has used his Instagram account @atticuspoetry as an experimental platform to connect with many readers through his words; some even get tattoos of his poems on their bodies. Atticus has managed to keep his identity private and does not disclose many specifics about his personal life. His popularity on Instagram gave him the opportunity to publish a book of his work, titled “Love Her Wild.”

The book is sectioned into three parts: “Love,” “Her” and “Wild.” The first section, “Love” describes how he generally felt about love in those moments of writing. The second is “Her” and is largely about his different muses in life. The idea of infinite youth is the focus in the last section, “Wild.” The structure of the book allows readers to pick their own pace: read from start to finish to follow the story or simply pick the book up anywhere and just read a poem. Atticus wanted versatility in the structure so that readers can connect with his work at any time.

The Canadian poet just finished a Masked Motorcycle Tour to promote his book from Oct. 16 to Oct. 29, 2017, which allowed him to connect with his readers in person. He has a strong presence on social media and responds to fans as much as he can. However, he receives hundreds of messages a day and cannot reply to every single person. His honesty and vulnerability are what connects his work to readers so well. The tour gave readers a more intimate experience with the poet in which they could ask questions and listen to him read his poetry. I attended the Austin, TX reading and the poet answered the questions below about himself and his book.

Cover of Atticus’ “Love Her Wild” (Image via Simon & Schuster)

Lauren Lambert: Why did you choose the name Atticus?

Atticus: I’ve always just liked the name Atticus. It turns out there was a nation of Atticans, someone told me, who were a nation of philosophers and poets in Ancient Greece. I always liked that connotation as well.

LL: What has been your biggest inspiration?

A: There are two sides. One side is a girlfriend I had for a long time and she was a huge muse and inspiration in my life; I dedicated the book to her. Our relationship was tumultuous and exciting which gave me a lot to write about and I owe a lot of my writing to her. The second side is I’ve almost stopped writing so many times. I think, what am I doing? I don’t understand. What is this? Out of nowhere, I receive a message from someone online who I do not know saying they connected with my words. They will say something like, “I was really sad and this gave me hope today.” The connection is humbling and incredible.

LL: Why do you wear the mask?

A: I wear the mask to remind myself to write what I feel and not what I think I should feel. There is a risk in writing. You start to write to please people or pretend you are someone you are not. You stop being vulnerable. This was a symbol and reminder for me to be vulnerable. In my mind, I don’t think it’s important what I look like. Whether I’m good-looking or ugly, it doesn’t matter. If you like and connect with the words, that’s beautiful and if you don’t, that’s fine, too. That’s why I chose to keep myself anonymous.

Atticus during a public reading (Image via The Globe and Mail)

LL: What struggles do you have with writing?

A: One of the biggest problems for me is finding inspiration. It’s finding the will to write and feeling inspired enough to write. One of the biggest things I’ve found to keep me writing is to force myself to write. Sometimes you are going to write absolute rubbish and sometimes you will keep writing for hours and hours. I will write brilliant work from authors I love when I am experiencing writer’s block. Nature is also a huge inspiration; I consider it god’s free muse.

LL: What advice would you give to young writers and poets?

A: The biggest thing I would say is just writing. A lot of people are scared to share their work. Someone says “I’m a poet,” but never posts anything online. They are scared it’s going to get taken. There might be a little truth to that, but I’ve never worried about it. I’d rather just put my poetry out into the world, share, learn, find my voice and keep writing. I think a lot of young writers believe they have to come out of the gate and be the best writer ever. There is a good saying: ‘Write for the waste paper basket’ meaning to write for the garbage; don’t try. If you try, that’s the point where you’re not going to be able to write. Some will be good, some bad and it doesn’t matter. Just keep writing.

LL: When did you start writing poetry?

A: I was in France three years ago and I had a chance meeting with an actor, Michael Madsen. If you do not know him, he is the bad guy in everything. He is an incredible archetype of the American badass. We spent a lot of time together and I found him to be one of the most profound people I’ve ever come across. He told me about his struggles with fame, alcohol and crime, through which he started writing as an outlet. Here is the most badass American telling me he writes poetry. That was a wake-up for me and a permission to access a vulnerable side of myself I never even thought about. A few days later I was in Paris and I saw a beautiful thing happen and I wrote about it. That was my first experience writing poetry.

LL: Why did you incorporate pictures into your book?

A: I wanted to include images which would make the poems come off the page a little richer and have the pictures become a little richer in the same way. I don’t know if I accomplished that, but I tried. The cover and a lot of the pictures were done by the same artist and they invoke feeling. I chose the cover because I immediately felt something. There was an energy to her falling and you could feel the energy; it felt nostalgic and empty at the same time while being hopeful.

LL: How do you react to people getting tattoos with your poetry?

A: You think it would become less shocking. Every time I get a new picture, I can’t believe it. It was a humbling experience the first time I received a picture from someone who tattooed my words. I remember talking to her for hours and wanting to know everything about her. I can’t believe people trust the words. It is powerful and humbling to have someone who feels connected enough to the words to put them on themselves.

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Lauren Lambert

Southeastern Louisiana University

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