by Melody Lee ǀ @melody_lee_poetry_junkie

I begin my role as reviewer for Her Heart Poetry with an interview of someone I admire for her courage and strength. A beautiful heart, I am honored to call Dena Daigle, my friend. I met Dena through social media and it wasn’t long before we realized we had much in common. The Universe has that magical way of aligning like-minded souls in the paths of each other at just the right time. Before I met Dena, we were both working on our debut poetry books. Soon after our encounter, we learned our books were being released practically at the same time. This is what I refer to as synchronicity in perfect action.

Just coming on board with Her Heart Poetry, I wanted to start with a bang! Dena’s debut book, “Scattered Ashes – A Collection of Poetry and Prose” immediately came to mind. Dena has a powerful voice with a strong message. “Scattered Ashes” digs deep; it will leave the reader wanting more. Like a great novel, Dena’s words had me spellbound, thinking and reflecting long after I finished reading. But with great poetry, you reflect, you return to it time and again to catch that euphoria you had upon first reading. To me, profound poetry brings you to yourself, inside yourself–soul searching in a sense. You think, you feel, you find calm, you learn more about your world, the universe and yourself. I even get goose bumps when reading poems that rouse my soul. “Scattered Ashes” did all this. Dena’s words left me with the kinds of reactions and raw emotions I want and expect with poetry.

When I received “Scattered Ashes” and opened the book, I was drawn to the titles of her poems. Clever they are, in typical Dena fashion. She is not for the shallow mind. “Scattered Ashes” is full of delightful metaphors and philosophical truths. The book is divided into three sections: Book of Life; Book of Love; Book of Light. These sections are Dena’s story she shares through poetry and prose. While we cheer this warrior spirit onward, we find solace knowing we are not alone in our battles, and that there is always a rainbow on the other side of turbulence. Our difficulties on life’s journey only serve to make us better human beings. Because I also find Dena’s writing to be somewhat spiritual, I could not let this interview pass without asking her if she views her writing as a spiritual practice. I had a blast interviewing Dena and enjoyed learning about her writing process, how it has evolved and what motives her writing. I enjoyed delving into her deep, beautiful mind. As a writer myself, I am interested in what sparks my favorite authors’ imaginations, their choice of topics, and what inspires them in writing. Since I know Dena personally, I was able to come up with questions that seemed fitting and specific to her. For example, Dena is highly creative, not just with her poetically powerful messages, but in art and creative ways of thinking outside the box. I am excited to present Dena and her debut book, “Scattered Ashes – A Collection of Poetry and Prose.” I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I enjoyed interviewing Dena.

Did you have an early experience that led you to writing? And why poetry?

Early on in my childhood it was determined that I was “gifted and talented,” and I was placed into advanced classes beginning in the third grade. In middle school, I was introduced to poetry by my GT teacher. One of the assignments I was given included reading a poem and interpreting the deeper meaning behind the words that the author/poet wrote. The poem was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost and I will never forget the feeling I felt when I read his last lines “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” (I still get the same sensation reading it now!) This piece brought a sense of wonderment to me when I realized that each student in my class had their own unique interpretation of what they read. It was then that I fell in love with both poetry and allegory and the way that they moved me. I absolutely adored the way the words just seemed to flow like a song, and I enjoyed the challenge of finding rhyming words to write my own poetry. While working on other class projects, I also discovered that I had a knack for writing such works of art, myself.

At that point in my life I had also experienced some things that I did not know how to process emotionally. I felt as though I could not speak to anyone about my experiences. One of my teachers introduced me to “journaling” as a class assignment. I then took what I learned home with me, and combined my love for poetry/prose and allegory with journaling in an effort to sort through the chaos. I would lock myself in my room for hours, writing my heart out and trying to make sense of it all.

What motivates you to write?

In sorting through the mayhem of my mind, and sharing my mental musings via social media, I discovered that I wasn’t so alone in the world after all. So many people relate to my experiences because of their own. They find solace in my words and in the fact that they are not alone either. They find comfort knowing that someone understands them and can help to articulate the emotions they feel inside. I write for them…the voiceless ones who have lost their faith in humanity. It is the ability to give a piece of my heart to someone in need of a little healing light through writing that motivates me; it is the ability to help people heal while I’m actually learning to heal myself. Those are the driving forces guiding my pen.

What inspired you to write and publish a poetry book and do you have plans to publish again?

I wanted to write a book from the moment I began writing. There is this burning desire within me to leave something tangible behind for future generations. Poetry is filled with raw emotion and depth, and I want my readers to dig deeper and interpret the hidden meanings behind the words I share. I want them to experience the same joy I felt when I fell in love with poetry. I want to tell my story and share my learning experiences with the world. “Scattered Ashes” is a figurative doorway to my soul, and each chapter includes a piece of me that I want to share with the world… life, love and light. I plan to publish a book for each of those chapters, giving my readers a deeper connection to my worldview.

What did you learn about yourself while writing your book?

I learned so much about myself while writing my book, especially the fact that I have so much more to learn. I believe that may be the key to life – keeping an open mind, a hunger for knowledge, and a willingness to learn something from everyone that we encounter. I learned that I am much stronger than I give myself credit for, and that when I set my intentions on something, I strive to see it through to fruition. I learned the art of mental alchemy by taking the painful, negative events I have experienced and transmuting them into something positive for myself and others.

Who inspires you creatively? Poets, authors, people in your life type thing.

The simple answer would be – the amazing people I met in the online poetry community; in particular, a group of 16 women that I consider to be my kindred sisters. They inspire me daily. They are all uniquely beautiful, talented and authentic souls. We challenge each other creatively and help each other to grow in all facets of life.

Who is your favorite poet, favorite poem?

My all-time favorite poem/poet is “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. Poe is #1 on my list of favorites, but it is impossible for me to pick just one. I love Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, E.E. Cummings, Sylvia Plath, and Maya Angelou to name a few others.

Is your writing style evolving since you first published, and if so how and in what ways?

My writing style has dramatically evolved. I began by sharing shorter, milder pieces of quote-like prose at first to get a feel for the reaction I would receive from the public. I was so nervous about sharing some of the content that I wrote about, but I quickly learned that my life’s purpose was to blaze the trail by writing and sharing things that many are uncomfortable talking about. I learned to follow my heart’s path and to stay true to myself. My style varies between poetic verses and philosophical prose. While many writers/poets avoid rhyming poetry, I actually enjoy the challenge of sticking to a rhyme scheme from time to time.

What are you trying to communicate in your writing?

I try to communicate many things through my writing, but perhaps the most important thing is not to be afraid to own your truth and share your story because you never know who you are inspiring in the process.

You seem to be a very creative person. What does “being creative” mean to you?

“Being creative,” to me, simply means to create from your heart. Be your authentic self and create beauty in whatever way brings you happiness. Think outside the boring box of “normalcy” that society tells us we should fit into and stay true to you. Whether you are a writer, poet, artist, musician or a lover of art in all its forms, create from your heart and do not be afraid to stand apart from the crowd.

Do you have any creative routines or rituals?

Not particularly, as inspiration can sometimes strike at the strangest moments. However, if I am working on an ongoing project at home, I do like to set the tone around me by lighting incense, sage and candles and playing soft music. It calms me and helps me to find my center.

How often do you write? Do you have a certain ritual or a certain time that works best for you?

I write when things inspire me. I never force it. Sometimes, that may mean I write 5 pieces in a day, and other times, only one piece in a month.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Very much so! I feel as though every answer we seek outside of ourselves can actually be found within if we take the time to search for it. That is a significant part of what I aim to do with my writing – lead people to seek within themselves, to dive in and really get to know who they are beneath the surface. I believe that world peace starts with each individual’s personal healing and that the emotions we feel during that process act as the ties that bind us to our soul tribe. When you are a healer by nature, and writing is your means to help others, it becomes an essential part of the journey to honoring your higher calling, therefore it can be nothing but spiritual in nature.

Other than poetry, what genre do you enjoy reading? What are you currently reading?

I enjoy reading true crime, mystery, psychological thrillers, fantasy, metaphysical/spiritual books and self-help books. I am currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now,” and Warrior Goddess Training by Heather Ash Amara.

As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal?

According to my studies of Native American zodiac and my February birthday, my totem/spirit animal is the Otter, which is the utmost befitting of all. It is said that Otter people are humanitarians who seek to make the world a better place for all. Though fiercely independent, we are loyal to the end and beyond. We are a little quirky and completely unorthodox, which makes us a bit harder than most to figure out. We are equipped with a brilliant imagination and high level of intelligence, allowing us to be very intuitive and perceptive. While I naturally invoke the powers of the Otter, I am very much in-tune with nature, so I am also guided by the other spirit animals that make their presence known to me, along with many other signs from the universe.

Best for: “all the beautifully fractured souls whose voices have been lost somewhere along the way.”
Buy it for: Stocking stuffer – paperback, 118 pages
Buy it if: You enjoy darker poetic inspiration.

“Scattered Ashes – A Collection of Poetry and Prose” can be purchased online at these locations:
Barnes and Noble
Books a Million
RadPress Publishing

You can also connect with Dena on Instagram  ǀ @phoenixascended33

Reviewed by Melody Lee ǀ @melody_lee_poetry_junkie
Melody is a published poet, online blogger and features writer and an avid reader, power-walker, wine-enthusiast, foodie and collector of adventures. When Melody’s not drinking coffee, running her social media sites, reading novels or writing her next poem, you’ll likely find her exploring one of her nearby nature trails in North Florida, USA.

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