– Teen Vogue | By De Elizabeth –
If you don’t already follow the poet who calls himself Atticus on Instagram, chances are, you’ve seen his work re-grammed by one of your friends. His own Insta feed is filled with white squares containing small black text, each telling a whole story within just a few words or sentences. And, judging from the comments he receives from his thousands of followers, those words often resonate with his fans – so much that some even get his poetry tattooed on their bodies.
Atticus is undoubtedly one of the more mysterious poets on social media, down to the fact that he wears a mask in all of his profile pictures. He tells Teen Vogue that he hides his face not only to remain anonymous, but also to encourage himself to write what he truly feels, and not just what he thinks he should feel. It’s that sense of honesty that allows him to connect so strongly with his fans.
However, not everyone is as devoted to his words as that. Some commenters have called Atticus out for putting women on pedestals, or idolizing brokenness. To that, the poet explains that he would never want his "words to be put in a box.” Instead, he hopes that by discussing flaws and scars, his poetry can “bring light to the fact that we are all kind of broken in our own way, but that doesn't mean we are not beautiful.”
But for both the poet and his readers, this summer holds an exciting milestone: Atticus will be releasing his first book on July 11. Titled Love Her Wild, it is essentially an IRL version of his most popular Instagrams, along with brand-new poems. The book is broken into three sections (one for each word in the title), with poems that fall under that theme.
It’s certainly a huge accomplishment for the writer, but Atticus says that when he was younger, poetry was the “last thing” on his mind. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that he discovered his love for writing, and his passion for connecting with others. Teen Vogue had the chance to catch up with Atticus and learn more about his upcoming book, his plans for the future, and some of the secrets of the man behind the mask.
Teen Vogue: How are you feeling about the release of Love Her Wild?
Atticus: I'm very excited. I feel like I've been working on this book my whole life – ever since I started writing. I’ve been very careful of how I put it together, but it's a body of new work mixed with some of my old favorites. I wrote it wanting it to have something to say, and I feel like it says something.
Teen Vogue: Is there a theme or message that you hope your book conveys to your readers?
Atticus: It's separated into three sections: ‘Love,’ ‘Her,’ and ‘Wild,’ hence the title. ‘Love’ is the section where I explore what love means to me. ‘Her’ is mostly about my muse. If you've read my poems, you'll notice that I tend to write about someone. That is sometimes my muse, or just the female spirit. So, that section is about just exploring this person. ‘Wild’ is a section about young love — running away to the desert, being free, wild, and eternally young.
Teen Vogue: Tell us a little about your background. What first inspired you to start writing?
Atticus: If I had to guess, I never would have said that I would be someone who would write poems. I grew up riding motorcycles and boxing – things like that. But I had this poster from my mom that was on my wall growing up. It was a poster of Irish playwrights and poets. Each person had a little quote below their picture, and I memorized each one of them. That was my first exposure.
Three years ago, I was in France. I happened to meet a gentleman [who] told me, ‘You have an opportunity to do a lot of good with words.’ I thought that was interesting, and he just left that with me.
I was in Paris after that, and I just started writing [poems] on my phone. Then I was like, ‘You know what, I'll post. I'm gonna write anonymously. There's no risk in it.’ I never expected them to kind of take off the way they did.
Teen Vogue: You’ve built a huge following online. What is it like to have so many fans, some of whom get tattoos of your words?
Atticus: To have humans trust the words enough to get them permanently tattooed means a lot. I feel exceptionally connected to every one of the people who have tattooed those words. I felt something that made me want to write those words, and they felt something that made them want to keep those words.
Every day I receive these messages that say, ‘I feel like you're in my head. You're saying things that I couldn't articulate.’ One said, ‘I got in a car accident when I was a kid and I tattooed some of your words over my scar.’ It’s been very humbling to get that kind of response.
Teen Vogue: So many of your poems are about love. Are they inspired by your own relationships?
Atticus: Definitely. I draw on my life and my past experiences a lot. I've had many different muses in my life. So, I write with the ‘he’ and the ‘she’ [pronouns], but it's not always someone specific. I'm not just saying ‘me and her.’ And sometimes I think about what it would feel like to be completely without a person. I've been through many, many breakups. The fact of the matter is that relationships have constant ups and downs. I draw on that; I use my imagination within that. How would I feel if I lost someone, and what would that make me feel? I write about both lost loves [and] my current love. But I certainly do often write about the hypothetical female spirit a lot, and the hypothetical male spirit. It's the feminine and the masculine, not necessarily like ‘girls and boys.’ But I never want my words to be limited and put in a box. Like, ‘He thinks girls are this.’ Or ‘This is how relationships work.’
Teen Vogue: And what might you say to people who claim that your work romanticizes brokenness?
Atticus: I don't want to idolize or romanticize brokenness. But I do want to bring light to the fact that we are all kind of broken in our own way, but that doesn't mean we are not beautiful in our own way. I think there's so much pressure in our world to be happy and to be perfect. That's just not how we are designed. That's just not a reality.
All I can do is draw from my own experience. And what becomes really clear is: ‘Holy sh*t. Everybody goes through this.’ It's just a reality to varying degrees, obviously. So, I think it's important to talk about it. I think it's important for people to realize that they're not alone. Everyone has their struggles. It should be a more open dialogue, and we shouldn't cloud it.
Teen Vogue: Who are some of your other favorite poets, on Instagram and in general?
Atticus: Rupi Kaur is great. I really respect her for her vulnerability and honesty. I think it's incredible what she's been able to do for female empowerment. Cleo Wade is another one, and R.M. Drake. I'm also a fan of a lot of the classics: Robert Frost and James George. I love Fitzgerald, Bukowski, Dickinson, and Silvia Plath, and Maya Angelou.
Teen Vogue: Are there any topics that you haven’t written about yet that you’d like to branch out towards in the future?
Atticus: I do write a lot of longer poems, but I don't share them online because I don't think Instagram is the best place for them necessarily. Instagram plays very well to short-form poems. It's like, ‘How can I say so much with nothing?’ I spend a lot of my time doing that.