Interview with Poet Jacklyn McQueen

Hello reader!
Thank you for joining me on my blog today. 
Today's post is special because I have been joined by a fellow poet, author, and friend. Her name is Jacklyn McQueen and she is here to talk about her first published collection of poetry entitled Angel in Red. 
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Angel in Red by Jacklyn Mcqueen is a relatable poetry book describing the complexity of relationships in early adulthood, that can become toxic without recognition. Told in 4 sections: Angel in Red, With Him, Without Him, and Acceptance, the author uses her personal lessons to show how being so hurt, can damage a person. Each poem shows vulnerability and makes connections with the reader, exploring how the theme of heartbreak is too common and too powerful to pretend does not exist.

Everyone makes mistakes; no one is perfect. No one is a clear devil or angel, everyone has good and bad in them. Do not blame yourself for mistakes of the past--learn and grow from them. Treat people better than they treat you. Everyone is a little bruised, but do not let pain keep you from happiness. Spread your wings and be a realistic angel--an angel in red.
Enjoy the interview I had with her below: 
  1. Hi Jacklyn! Why don't you start by sharing with the readers the basics about your book? When did you start writing it and why? How long did it take you? 

Thank you so much for your interest in me Lydia, I truly appreciate it! Angel In Red took me a solid year to write; the year I was 18 turning 19. I started writing it to process the relationship I was in. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize how abusive it was until I was scared of my (then) boyfriend. I’ve always been told not to talk badly about others and that the way you speak about others is a reflection of you. However, I genuinely do not believe that to be true. If someone traumatizes you, abuses you, makes you suicidal, mentally destroys you, you deserve to talk about it. No one should tell you to not speak up if your story can heal yourself and others. The basis of my book is my brain and emotions of what I was feeling when I was told not to talk about what as hurting me. My book is for all the young girls out there who are told to stay quiet—don’t. 

  1. Would you also share some basics about yourself? What makes Jacklyn McQueen YOU? (This could include anything you want. Age, where you're from, interests you have, etc.) 

Reading and writing have always been the most freeing parts of my life. The library is my safe haven and has been since elementary school. Books and the magic of words on paper never cease to inspire me. I, Jacklyn Mcqueen, am the girl next door. I write for the people who don’t understand math, who work minimum wage jobs, for people who cry on their bedroom floor then gets mad at themselves for crying. I’m the average 5’4 brunette from Tampa, Florida. But when I write, every fear I have leaves. There’s something about taking a stand and sparking a bigger conversation that makes me feel as though I have a purpose. Suddenly, the girl from her high school newspaper who no one noticed, is on the cover of her own book. The way I feel when I craft stories, is the way I hope readers feel reading them. 

  1. I know this question is one all poets hate but I just have to ask it. Are there any 2 or 3 poems in the book that are favorites of yours?

Yes! “All’s fair in love, war, and literature” is actually one of my favorite lines I’ve ever created. That’s the only thing I wanted on the back of Angel In Red because I feel it defines the theme of the book so simply. Another piece that I always think of is page 72 that says, “My sweet dove flying to check on me, please don’t fly too far away.” Although the book is about love and loss in a romantic relationship, that poem was written about my mom. Whenever she sees me typing on my laptop, she gets so excited seeing me create. Even though readers won’t think it’s about my mom’s support, it is. I hope she never flies too far away from me. 


  1. What is the #1 thing you hope readers will take away from reading your book? 

Writing Angel In Red was a way for me to control my emotions and gather the courage I needed to keep going. Without the process of creating this book, I would not be alive, truthfully. If readers take one thing away from this book, it’s that you have all the potential to create something. Everyone is capable of creating something to not only help themselves, but to help someone else. If one person reads Angel In Read and feels seen, then I’ve done my job. If a teenage girl reads my small-town self-published book, and realizes she’s worth more than the pain she’s suffered, I’ve done my job. I know what it’s like to wish every day was your last, and no one should feel that way. I’m here for the people who feel like they don’t have anyone. 

  1. One of the things I loved the most while reading your book is all the references to literature, authors, and characters. What is it about Hester in Nathanial Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter that drew you to write about her in your poems? 

Thank you, those pieces were very fun to write! Junior year of high school I wrote an essay on The Scarlet Letter and described Hester Prynne as an angel in red. The point was that people tend to villainize others, so they don’t have to feel guilty about treating them badly. In reality, Hester was an amazing person. She was an angel just like the other religious townspeople. But that one mistake, was enough to make society villainize her. Everyday I see different versions of that. I think a lot of misunderstood people out there can relate to not knowing why they’ve been treated the way they have. I blamed myself for how traumatizing my first relationship was when in reality, I was wrongfully tearing myself apart because someone else was mistreating me. I’ve always been scared about coming off as “playing the victim,” when the truth is, people who are mistreated are the victim. Hester, to me, is the original misunderstood girl in American literature. She wasn’t a bad person, and neither are many others who have suffered difficult situations. There’s a difference between playing the victim and acknowledging the pain someone has been through. There’s a form of power in acknowledging that you’ve overcome hardships, and I see Hester as a strong female who represents that.      

  1. What does being a writer and a poet mean to you? 

That I finally found a purpose. The way authors have made me feel less alone in life, is something I cannot be grateful enough for. The thought that I could one day make others feel less alone through the pages of words I write, is priceless. 

  1. At the back of your poetry book, you have a sneak peek into an upcoming project. Can you tell us a little bit more about it? 

I would love to! Swipe Right for Heartbreak is the backstory of Angel In Red. It’s the narrative version of all these poems. I went from being on top of the world, 18 and carefree, to deeply in love, to a toxic relationship, to dangerously suicidal, to all these things I never pictured happening. Angel in Red is about The Pastor’s Son, but I also went out with The Bad Boy, The Athlete, The Rockstar, The Beach Boy and The Influencer. My dating life has consistently been a dumpster fire, so I figured, why not let the truth be known? My dating life has been deemed a soap opera by my friends that hopefully, others can relate to and be entertained by. I swiped right on Tinder, but all I ended up with was heartbreak…and a book series. 

  1. Do you remember the moment you knew you wanted to share your poetry with readers? What was that moment like? 

Yes, I vividly remember. It was actually after therapy one day. I got to my car and received a bunch of threatening messages from my ex, who I had not spoken to in months. I had no idea why he contacted me just to hurt me, just to make me cry, but he did. I realized in that moment that no one should feel the way I did. I was exiting therapy, bettering my life, and the same person who I once loved was continuing to tear me down. We broke up but the abuse didn’t stop. In that moment I sat in my car and knew I had to publish anything I could to cleanse myself of this cycle. I wanted all the weight I had been carrying to lift off me. To leave my soul and exist somewhere else. I wanted every confusing emotion out of my brain and spelled out on paper. I wanted everyone out there to know that if you’re hiding trauma because it feels so heavy, I’ve been doing the same thing. I suddenly wanted everyone to know what I had been suffocating me. I couldn’t stay quiet anymore. 



Thank you for reading! 

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