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.
Distinee uses poetry as a means of self-expression and aid during turbulent times. She had always loved to write as a pastime but recently branched out to publish her inner-most thoughts in her poetry book debut, Sunflower Soul.
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. After I filled up my journal of poems, I had the idea to put it in a book to share my words with others.
Gayle describes the process of collecting 200 poems coming together as a “wild masterpiece.” Centering many of the poems around floral growth and nature, the Frederick author had no strategy in its final product; the book was arranged and completed by just doing “what felt right.”
As a young, black, female poet, Distinee’s vulnerability was on display.
“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.
Sadness, the author says, is the emotion that sparks inspiration with ease the most. “There isn’t a more raw emotion than sadness; it was easy when I was going through difficult times because the words flowed much more organically,” Distinee continues. Many of her poems were hard to write and even harder to share. Reliving painful memories were difficult but necessary to complete “Sunflower Soul.” Baring her spirit to her audience was daunting but also, relieving.
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.
When asked to choose a favorite poem, Distinee initially struggled but ultimately resonated with a piece towards the end of the book.
It’s hard to [choose] 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.
Frederick’s newest author describes her creative path as an incredible experience so far:
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.
Her goals as a published author are to cast the widest net, reach as many people as possible, and create human connections from varying walks of life along the way. When reading her work, Distinee hopes to help others feel inspired to write themselves. For aspiring young poets and writers, Distinee offers the following insight: “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Expressing your most inner thoughts can be terrifying but really liberating.”
The key takeaway for Sunflower Soul is: “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.” – Distinee Gayle
Stay up to date on the author’s upcoming projects and purchase tickets to her debut event this Saturday on fullybloomed.net. Support local authors!