An illustration of Orion Carloto taking a picture for an article on her new book "Film For Her."
Carloto's new book features her photography alongside poems of self-love. (Illustration by Marlowe Pody, Rhode Island School of Design)
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An illustration of Orion Carloto taking a picture for an article on her new book "Film For Her."

The poet and photographer has grown since the publication of her last book.

Orion Carloto is a writer in Los Angeles who has a huge public platform of over 700,000 followers on Instagram. The social media mostly serves as a form of self-expression where she publishes aesthetic pictures of her life in sunny California, her many travels and museum-worthy fashion pieces. It’s the perfect place for her to share her other talent: photography.

She started off on Tumblr — you may recognize some of her pictures if you were on there way back when — and, after her first heartbreak, she began writing poetry. In an interview with Read Poetry, she talks about how she was accumulating all these poems and knew she wanted “to turn them into something tangible.” However, she got into another relationship. It was good for a while, at least enough to push her poetry aside. But when this one inevitably ended, words swam around her head once again. And she got to writing.

With the good amount of followers she had on social media, including a successful YouTube channel, Carloto continued to share her photography and writing. Her fans loved her content, and her poetry was just another way to get to know her more personally. Having a piece of the artist in their hands was a no-brainer for them. And for any publishing company, as well.

Because all of her writing was posted to social media and, therefore, out there for everyone to see, the publishing company Andrews McMeel took notice. They decided to reach out to Carloto to ask if she was working on anything in particular. And it just so turned out that she was. All of the poems she had written across her two heartbreaks were perfect to put into a book: a book full of loneliness and the feelings that come with the ending of a romantic relationship.

With time comes healing and maturity. Both of these emotions come across in Carloto’s new book, “Film for Her.” Published three years after her first book, “Flux,” it was a highly anticipated release for all of her followers. And it did not disappoint. Not only did the book include Carloto’s deep and harmonious poetry, but she used it as an opportunity to highlight her photography.

The first line of the book goes like this: “When poetry is written, beneath the folds of every word, images unravel.” She immediately introduces us to the idea that with poetry, our thoughts are flooded with pictures. And Carloto conveys just that when she added her photography to the book.

The overall theme of “Film for Her” is hard to define. But this only makes it more beautifully complex. Carloto starts off with “2,221 Growing Pains,” a beautiful prose piece where she writes about her heritage, her parents and her upbringing. It perfectly highlights the ins and outs of growing up in two different cultures: one at home and one outside of home (at school, on the street, with friends). She adds where she is in life now, and how much she’s grown since those days where, as a kid, she would feel ashamed of what made her unique.

The maturity comes through in poems like “3 A.M. IN MALIBU.” It talks about enjoying the moment and remembering the small details. That way, when the moment — particularly with a lover — is over, despite the hurt that might accompany it, you’ll still be able to enjoy it and look back on it fondly. Lines like “Maybe you’ll forget about me / and maybe I’m okay with that” exhibit that perfectly.

Where in “Flux,” the talk about heartbreak was raw and harrowing, in “Film for Her,” Carloto has learned to take a step back. She admires what came before the heartbreak, but without forgetting the pain. It is described intently and with care.

Self-love is also an important theme in the book. “PHILAUTIA’S LOVE, ACT I” is a perfect example. Named after the Greek term for self-love, Carloto describes the growth she’s been through during the last few years. She highlights the way she used to describe herself with the way she does now. In one word, years ago, she used “Unfortunate.” Now, she uses “Significant.” And she may say it trembling just a bit, but that’s what growth is about: starting somewhere and getting there eventually.

Carloto loves to travel. Whether it’s for the experience, work or fashion. The reasons are endless. But her latest endeavor was to finish writing “Film for Her.” She spent a month in a small apartment in Paris, wandering from her temporary home to local cafés — journal and other notebooks constantly in hand. She even shared one of her mornings on her YouTube channel.

Friendships are something that Carloto is extremely grateful for and she expresses that gratitude and love through a lot of her poems. “PLATONIC AFFAIR” stands out in particular. In the first line — “My soulmates are platonic, or at least it feels that way” — she refers to her friends as soulmates. It’s simple, but still beautiful and meaningful. The poem is accompanied by some photos of them, taken by Carloto.

Publishing a book in the middle of a pandemic is a completely different experience. It means no book tours or signings. So, writers have had to improvise and go with their gut about ways to promote their creations. Carloto, like many others, had a mini virtual tour where she brought on guests and collaborated with independent bookstores that will not only promote her book, but also promote the small business.

 

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She recently spoke with her friend and influencer Enya Umanzor, and, more recently, with actor and friend Finn Wolfhard. You can catch both events on YouTube if you’re interested in insightful conversations about poetry, Carloto’s new book and life in general. And you can still get tickets to an event on Dec. 2, organized by The Strand.

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Eva McCarthy Mínguez

Stony Brook University
Creative Writing

Writer in training. Professional reader. In the process of sharing her voice while highlighting others.

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