His words grace our 11th issue of Darling, and we couldn’t be more excited or inspired by the way Tyler Knott gives life to each one of the Darling personas.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tyler to get inside the poet’s mind, discovering just how and why his way with words has global audiences captivated. Read on to learn more about what he thinks poetry really is, how he found his passion, and how he continues to foster it.
Darling Magazine: When did you begin writing poetry? Have you always had a talent for it, or was it ignited by other interests?
Tyler: As long as I can remember, I’ve been writing. I have funny memories of getting extremely excited for poetry units of 4th and 5th grade, getting to write everything from limericks to cowboy poetry, something that had a lot of popularity in Montana when I was growing up. As I got a little older, writing became my way of escaping from school, from listening to teachers and lectures. I would disappear into my notebooks while sitting in a class, and it felt instantly like relief.
My real love became poetry at around 12, when I would just start letting all the noise inside my brain out onto the page. I loved that I didn’t have to follow rules, I didn’t have to censor, and I didn’t have to have it add up to anything if it didn’t want to. When this combined with the kind of odd way I see the world, the two quickly found home in each other I suppose. I’ve always wandered through the world with an abundance of wonder, and it’s something that even now at nearly 34 years old, I haven’t lost. When you see the whole world as this insanely miraculous playground, it kind of helps open back channels for constant inspiration.
I loved that I didn’t have to follow rules, I didn’t have to censor, and I didn’t have to have it add up to anything if it didn’t want to.
DM: In an age where everyone seemingly has an outlet for sharing their opinion, did/do you ever struggle with finding your own voice?
Tyler: No. I guess that’s the simplest way to put it. I have Aspergers, and as such I am kind of oblivious to trends, what’s cool, and really the opinions towards me. What I’m doing right now, now that many many more people are paying attention, is the exact same thing I’ve been doing since I was 12. I just pour out the things inside my mind because if I didn’t I feel as though I would go insane.
I write because I feel like I have to, and the fact that people read it, pay attention, and sometimes enjoy it, is still a bit of a shock to me. If all the followers, the books, the social aspect of all this went away tomorrow, I’d keep doing exactly what I’m doing.
DM: Is there a way to “get better” at something as creative and subjective as poetry? How have you seen your own work mature or evolve?
Tyler: I have certainly seen my work evolve over the years, but I as far as getting better, I am unsure. I’ve never treated art of any kind, poetry most specifically, as something that I should practice, get better at, or “owe” improvement to anyone with. Art, to me, is an escape and it’s a way to step Out of the cycle of trying to get better, get ahead, be more successful, and improve. Art to me is just an outward expression of all the inward noise and so my poetry has always felt more like a diary than it has a craft I need to improve on. It’s always been a way to gauge my own emotional climate, to see how I was feeling on a given day, what I was going through.
The one really fascinating thing about writing a haiku every single day for over 6 years, and a typewriter series poem every day for over 3, is that going back through them you can call to the surface emotions and situations long since gone.
DM: How do you find the inspiration for your poems?
Tyler: As I briefly mentioned, for me, every single thing becomes a source of inspiration. I tend to go through life like a 9 year old, everything still feels magic, wondrous and miraculous to me. I am so intrigued by the tiny things, all the little ‘blink and you’ll miss them’ moments that flow by us constantly. The tiniest glances, the little brushes of skin, the art that I think hides in simple things. When you see things that way, it’s really difficult to not have something to always write about, to always feel inspired.
Write your truth, in your voice, honestly and openly, and to me, you’re a poet.
DM: Do you think anyone can write poetry?
Tyler: Without a shadow of a doubt. I think two things hold most people back from writing poetry. First, is the stigma that poetry still (hopefully I’m playing a small part in changing this) carries. People hear poetry and they think of hours in classrooms trying to dissect stanzas written in language they don’t relate to. They image it being stuffy and stodgy and weighted for reasons they don’t understand. Poetry, to me, can be so many things and it’s time that mold feels at least cracked, if not broken.
Second, everyone assumes that what they write isn’t as good as what someone else has written. Poetry is so individualistic, it’s so personal, that I think anyone, anywhere, can write it. What sounds pleasing to one person’s ears or eyes, might be toxic to another’s, so you cannot allow yourself to compare that way. Write your truth, in your voice, honestly and openly, and to me, you’re a poet. There are no rules to this as far as I’m concerned.
DM: What is your favorite poem? (That you’ve written or otherwise.)
Tyler: I have two favorites that have always stuck with me. The first is “When I Heard The Learn’d Astronomer” by Walt Whitman. The second, and it makes me cry every single time I read it, is “If I Should Die Before You Do” by Richard Brautigan.
If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of Issue No. 11, enjoy one of Tyler’s poems appearing in the issue under The Stylist, below:
Illustration via Assa Ariyoshi appearing in Darling Issue No. 11