Poets’ Corner: Sunflower Soul

Spotlight: Distinee Gayle

23 year-old Frederick poet Distinee Gayle planted her garden long ago; it is flourishing now.  “Sunflower Soul,” is apart of the Fully Bloomed collection of prose.

 “Sunflower Soul” is a compilation of 200 poems divided into five chapters exploring themes of growth, pain, love and so much more. Written as an evolution from seed to full bloom, this series of prose takes readers on a journey from facing defeat to taking control.

 My name is Distinee and I am a 23 year old author from Frederick. I have always loved to write as a pastime – but recently branched out to publicize my most inner thoughts in my debut poetry book, “Sunflower Soul”

How did you begin writing?

I started writing poetry as a form of self expression. Four years ago I started writing consistently, as I was going through a rough phase in my life and poetry helped me heal. It’s never been a specific genre, just me spilling my thoughts.

Why a book?

After I filled up my journal of poems, I had the idea to put it in a book to share my words with others.

Talk about the title.

“Sunflower Soul” is the title of the first poem I wrote that actually made me sit back and admire my own work. It starts of the final chapter, “fully bloomed” and reflects flourishing in the darkest of times. I wrote that poem and in the most humbling way, it made me inspired to write so much more. The more I stared to write, the more I began to heal. The entire project was therapy for me.

We understand the book is a collection of 200 poems. Tell us about the process. Was the final product intentional? Or a wild masterpiece?

Certainly a wild masterpiece. I themed most of the poems around floral growth and nature. Once I determined chapter names, I started to filter which poems should go where. There was no strategic placement, I just did what felt right.

What are the key takeaways from your book? What message are you trying to convey?

No matter how withered away you may have gotten and no matter how little sunlight you may have been exposed to, you can still bloom in the end.

What’s it like being a young, Black, female poet in Frederick?

It’s hard no matter what being young, black and female… but being a poet on top of that makes you so much more vulnerable. An incredible experience so far, nonetheless. I’m connecting with this entire community of creatives in this area that I never knew about before. I’m learning how many talented people we have in our area.

Which is your favorite poem? Why?

It’s hard to ask which is my favorite! I hold a different connection to each one, but I am super proud of the one I placed on the back. I think it ties it all together.

Which was the hardest poem to write? Easiest? Why?

Many of them were hard to write. It was easy when I was going through difficult times because the words flowed much more organically. At one point, I felt like I had nothing left to write about so I had to dig into old memories to complete the book. Reliving those memories were difficult. Writing about my experience with non toxic love was easy – both self love experiences and receiving it from others.

Which one was the hardest to share?

Every single last page was hard to share. No matter how much you’ve come to peace with what you’ve written and the meaning behind it, you constantly worry how others will perceive it and their interpretations of it. My poems have all been written in a way that they can be interpreted differently based on the reader, which is both a pro and con.

Why do you write?

I originally started writing selfishly, to keep myself sane. Now, I hope to help others do the same by reading my work and possibly feeling inspired to write themselves.

Which emotion is easiest to be inspired by?

I would definitely say sadness. There isn’t a more raw emotion than sadness.

What insight do you have for young poets and writers?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Expressing your most inner thoughts can be terrifying but it’s also really liberating.

Goals as a published author?

I want to reach as many people as possible. I don’t even mean that as far as sales, but I just want to connect with people from all different walks of life.

Where can the people find you?

I’m most active on my instagram, @distineegayle but my Twitter is @_fullybloomed and people can keep up with me on my website – fullybloomed.net, as well to find out about any upcoming projects!

​The Sunflower 🌻 Soul Pre-Release Party is this Saturday, September 22, 2018 from 1 – 4 PM at the New Spires Arts. Purchase tickets here.


Photo Credit: Moy Dumadag


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