Life with Atticus: Instagram's most famous poet gets deeply personal and answers your questions

Published on:
July 12, 2017

– CBC | By Samantha White –

Who is Atticus? No one knows. But you've definitely seen the work of this anonymous poet before.

Whether they're attracting thousands of likes on Instagram, or etched in neat cursive on the bodies of his dedicated readers, his poems are easily recognizable — and increasingly adored — for their succinct style and achingly romantic messages. So much so, that the young scribe, who keeps his true identity hidden to push himself toward unwavering honesty and vulnerability in his writing, has already made fans out of high-profile celebs like Karlie Kloss, Shay Mitchell and Kaitlyn Bristowe, in just a few short years on the scene.

View this post on Instagram: A post shared by Karlie Kloss (@karliekloss)

View this post on Instagram: A post shared by Kaitlyn Bristowe (@kaitlynbristowe)

With the release of his first book, Love Her Wild, which hits bookstores across North America July 11, Atticus aims to take his built-for-the-social-media-age poetry to all new heights. The collection, which includes fresh, original works while mixing in a few treasured fan favourites, is divided thematically into three sections, one for each word of the book's title. Consistent across the entire read is the feeling of a soft summer love song — full of lust and longing with the ability to make having sand caught between your toes seem dreamy instead of distressing. Only Atticus doesn't need three minutes to tell that story, he can tell it in three lines

Just for you, we asked for an exclusive sneak peek at versus from Atticus' hot new book:

View this post on Instagram: A post shared by CBC Life (@cbclife)

View this post on Instagram: A post shared by CBC Life (@cbclife)

We caught up with Atticus on the eve of the release of Love Her Wild to get the scoop on where he finds inspiration, his favourite place on earth and the one thing he'd want to tattoo on his body. Check out our rapid fire with the poet, along with his answers to all your burning questions, below and be sure to grab the new book here.

Life with Atticus

What's your biggest success?

I receive messages every day from people struggling with some sort of depression or anxiety saying that they have connected with something I wrote. I've struggled with dark times and connecting with humans going through that means the world to me and is endlessly humbling. If I can make one person feel better with my words it's all worth it.

One artist everyone should know about right now?

F. Scott Fitzgerald, I think he is one of the most talented writers in history.

What posters did you have in your childhood or teenage bedroom?

I had posters of a motorcycle and a Porsche 911. I bought both of them as soon as I could afford them. My mother also put up a poster in our house of famous Irish poets. I don't think it's a coincidence that I started writing.

What's your favourite possession in your home?

A copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, my grandfather was given it before boarding a boat in 1917. It will be one hundred years old in December. That's probably my most priceless possession.

What drives you?

I want to become a better writer and a better person. I'm a world away from my goals, I know I have a long way to go and so much to learn, but I want to improve and be better everyday.

What keeps you awake at night?

All the lives I could be living.

Where is your favourite place on earth?

There's a little town in France north of Paris called Giverny, which is where Monet was from and had his gardens. It's one of my favourite places in the world.

The one book you'd recommend to everyone?

The Great Gatsby is my favourite book. But I have gifted Meditations by Marcus Aurelius to every person I know.

You have an entire weekend to binge watch stuff — what's it gonna be?

Game of Thrones, but I'm also a huge sucker for all the Harry Potter movies.

Your go-to when writing: laptop or pen and paper?

I wish I could say my typewriter but my laptop or phone is the best way to keep my work organized.

What's your secret for good health right now?

Smoothies. I try to pack them with everything healthy because I don't like making salads. I'm really into Moon Juice —they are a little pricey, but they have powder mixes you can add that fire up your smoothies.

If you could be any age for a week, what age would you be?

I had a lot of fun at nineteen, breaking hearts and having my heart broken, but I felt alive.

Most romantic place in the world?

Cadaqués on the coast of Spain. It's infallible.

Your first kiss?

I was at camp when I was young and on the last night the older girls asked me to sneak out and come over to their cabin. They took turns teaching me how to "French kiss". I cried after as I thought I had done something wrong. Ha, that experience might explain a lot.

Who are your greatest heroes?

Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Hunter S. Thompson, Winston Churchill.

I met a man the other day who married his high school sweetheart and had only ever been with one woman. The way he talked about her, smiling like he just met her. That was so inspiring.

If you could come back as the child of anyone alive right now, who would it be?

Elon Musk.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

There's a little bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare and Company. If you go upstairs on a day in the winter there is often no one there. That's one of my favourite spots to write, but I'll write anywhere: on planes, on trains, at parties — I'll disappear and write something and come back ten minutes later. Mostly I write in a little shed in our back garden.

Secret Internet obsession?

Reddit. It should be a controlled substance.

What's your poison?

Whiskey, Johnny Walker Black, JB or Jameson.

What makes you smile?

The ocean, antique stores in small towns, motorcycle rides on hot days.

If you could get a tattoo of anything in the world what would it be?

There's an ancient Roman saying, "Memento homo," which means, "remember you are mortal." Slaves would whisper this into the general's ears at victory parades. It's a reminder to stay humble but I like to remind myself that we are not infinite and to live our lives richly everyday.

What would your superpower be?

When I was a kid I used to imagine I could fly so I could rescue girls and they'd fall in love with me. I still do.

What's the trait you most admire in others?

Self-deprecation in confident people.

When/where do you feel most free?

Swimming in the ocean, sailing on my boat. Or sparring in boxing, there's nothing like a punch in the face to remind yourself that you're alive.

Burning Questions Straight from the Fans

Angela Parsons on Facebook asked: Do you set specific hours to write or do you write simply when you are inspired?

I like to write at night, when the world is asleep. I try to get myself inspired by reading classics or watching documentaries or just staring at the sky waiting for it to say something.

@zippygonzalez on Instagram asked: Is there someone in your life that inspires a lot of your work?

Most of my heroes are dead but my poems are mostly about my muses. Weirdly, nature provides some of the most powerful inspiration in my life.

Ashley Pomery on Facebook asked: Do you have an absolute favourite piece that you've written? Or is it too hard to choose?

There's a longer poem I wrote that has the line, "Love her but leave her wild". Those words seemed to have resonated with a lot of people. I feel people draw their own meaning from it, but for me it symbolizes the wild exuberance of the female spirit which I love to write about. I've received 1000 pictures of this quote tattooed on people. That is a humbling experience.

@monica_canales_ and @_esoterika on Instagram asked: What advice do you have when you feel like your poetry doesn't matter or you feel discouraged? What advice do you have for someone that doesn't read poetry, but really appreciates beautiful snippets like this, but doesn't know where to start?

I think Bukowski said it best, "Don't try." The trick is never to sit down and try to write great poetry because it usually doesn't work. Just write, write for the garbage, experiment, mess around and somewhere in that process you will find your voice and every so often you will find magic. The truth is a lot of writing (at least for me) is like staring at a candle waiting for inspiration to strike.

Sofia Tejay on Facebook asked: Is it one "she" or more than one "she" that you refer to in your poetry?

I have a lot muses, both real and ones I invent. There is a main ""she"" that I write about the most, but I also like to use "she" as a representation of the general female energy. But I want readers to draw their own connection and place themselves in the words wherever they fit.

Sharon Ell on Facebook and @carlymacisaac on Instagram asked: Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night & start writing so you don't forget what thought came to you? Do you find your best inspirational thoughts for your poetry come to you at 4am or is that just me?

Yes, I feel the same way, but not always at night, a seed of an idea will come to me in strange places and at odd times. I'll be riding my motorcycle and have to pull over and jot something down or be at a dinner and set out to write something. My inspiration is consistently inconsistent.

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