Interview With Author Of “Every Word You Cannot Say” Iain Thomas! (@IWroteThisForU)
We recently had the chance to chat with Iain Thomas who is the author of the upcoming book “Every Word You Cannot Say.” During the interview, Iain talks about his inspiration for writing the book, the importance of talking about anxiety and depression, having support from well known people, and more!
- When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?
I don’t think it’s something I ever realized, I’ve just always been someone who writes. I really didn’t have a lot of exposure to traditional poetry but I remember falling in love with movie taglines, which I guess are a kind of poor man’s poetry. I loved how on the poster for “Aliens,” it just said, “In space, no one can hear you scream,” and how that one sentence created an entire world. Keeping in mind that I grew up in a really small town on the east coast of South Africa, I didn’t believe that being an artist, of any kind, was something that people like me could do.
I didn’t think I was different in any way growing up, I thought everyone had a diary that they wrote in every day, and that everyone wrote poetry or prose in it in their spare time. I have an almost biological need to distill the world and reinterpret my experiences of it in words, and that often seems to take the form of poetry.
- What was the main inspiration behind your piece Every Word You Cannot Say ?
We all have a dialogue inside of our heads that tells us what we are, or are not, capable of, and who we are and are not capable of being. Yet, I think we can all be incredibly mean to ourselves, and we would never speak to anyone the way we speak to ourselves. I want my poems to make people more aware of that dialogue, and to realize that sometimes, we have a choice about what we say to ourselves.
I fell into a depression in 2013 and in my darkest moments, I discovered a voice in my mind that was telling me that it was ok to be kind to myself. That voice and the internal dialogue I’ve had with myself, and in addition to conversations I’ve had with others were a huge inspiration for the book.
I also think the world just feels incredibly divided right now. I think wherever we find ourselves along the political or social spectrum, it feels like there’s nothing but an “us” and “them.” I grew up in Apartheid South Africa and so I know firsthand what happens when that kind of extreme polarization becomes the norm. It destroys a country for generations. It destroys dialogue and it destroys our ability to recognize each other as humans. I feel like the first step to dismantling that, to talking to others as human beings, is recognizing the human inside of us. That takes having a conversation with yourself. This book is a record of my own conversation with myself and what I discovered along the way.
I have so many people in my life who suffer from anxiety and depression, some of whom have felt that they have no one to talk to. This book won’t ever take the place of a good conversation with a friend or family member, but I hope that it will be something that allows you to start talking to yourself in a healthier way, or inspire you to talk to others, no matter who you are.
- Tell us in your own words what the book is about
The book is about the two voices we all have inside of us. The voice that says, “You can’t do this. You’re alone”; And the voice that says, “You can. You are loved.” This book is a long conversation between those two voices, without any judgement.
- How is it different from other works that you’ve written in the past?
It’s very different. My previous collection, “I Wrote This For You,” is a series of poems paired with photography, and it’s a format that has been copied a lot since the photographer, Jon Ellis, and I released it in 2011. I wanted to do something completely new that didn’t feel familiar, and it took me a long time and a lot of experimentation to arrive at “Every Word You Cannot Say.” The poems talk to each other and reference each other. In the age of insta-poetry, this is a reaction to that, I wanted to create something bigger than one poem in a photograph on an instagram account.
- What do you want fans to take away from the work after they’ve finished it?
That they aren’t alone in what they feel. That what they feel today doesn’t define them forever. That there is a kind voice in your head, if you’re quiet and you listen for it, that wants nothing but the best for you.
- What is it like knowing you have support from such high-profile people as Khloe Kardashian and Harry Styles?
It’s crazy. A friend of mine was reading Arianna Huffington’s book, “Thrive,” who called me and said, “You know you’re in here, right?” And I had no idea she’d quoted me. Another time, my twitter timeline just blew up, and I had no idea why, until someone tweeted a photo of a fan of mine giving Harry Styles a copy of my book. Recently, someone sent me an article from “The Hollywood Reporter” with a transcript of a speech given by Steven Spielberg where he quoted me, at The Shoa Foundation, honoring Tom Hanks, his wife, and Oprah Winfrey. Normally, I’m just completely blindsided by it and humbled by the experience. If anyone famous who’s mentioned me is reading this: thanks.
- Do you have any memorable fan encounters?
After the Boston Bombing, they erected a makeshift memorial and someone wrote a poem of mine on a poster and left it there, and someone else recognized it and sent me a photo of it. Another time, there was a kid being bullied who reached out to me over social media to say that something that I’d written had given her strength. A woman came up to me at a reading in New Jersey and said that she found my book after her husband was taken from her in a car crash, and that it made her feel less alone. It’s the incredibly simple encounters like that that stay with you.
- Every Word You Cannot Say will be available at most major book retailers on March 5, but they can pre-order prior to that! Here are the links below.
- What are your social media handles where your fans can stay connected?
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