I want to welcome to the Wet Ink Project, Lamar Neal! Neal is a rising poet who channeled his emotions into insightful and thought provoking poetry. Neal is the acclaimed poet behind We All Need Therapy.
First, I want to ask you about We All Need Therapy. It’s a pretty heavy collection of poetry spanning so many topics that are such major players in today’s world. Where did you find the inspiration?
I did not want to run away from myself anymore. My entire life I internalized everything, which just made me angry and suicidal. I did not deal with anything because I had this skewed idea of what it was to be a man. I could not express how I felt. I convinced myself it was a sign of weakness so I bottled everything up. At my lowest, I wanted to kill myself. I vividly remember driving down a road trying to convince myself to run my car into a ditch. I survived the worst time in my life. I felt like it was my time to tell my story. I did not want to be afraid anymore. I realized I did not have to be ashamed about how I felt.
I was terrified to write most of the poems in the book because I always assumed people wanted to read about love. That’s all I wrote about back in the day. I remember the first time I posted a poem about my life and I received a message on Instagram from a woman who said I made her cry. At that moment, I realized so many people felt how I felt. I wanted to show my scars in hopes that I inspired others to tell their truth. To be free from the pain through the therapeutic process of writing.
A lot of poetry can be traced back to first-hand experiences, in We All Need Therapy you write about religion, toxic masculinity and several other dynamics that have had a direct impact on your life. Which poem really hit home for you?
I’m going to be that person and name two. The first is entitled “Stone Cold Steve Austin,” and it details a time where I thought my father was going to kill me. I love the poem for so many reasons. For one, it is named after one of the most iconic wrestlers ever time and it is essentially a short story. I love writing novels just as much as I enjoy writing poetry, so writing it let me combine both worlds.
I imagined myself writing an epic poem like Odyssey or Paradise Lost. It is not an epic poem but I man could dream.
The second poem that hits home is entitled “Suburbia” and it chronicles my struggle as being one of the few black students in school growing up. I felt like an animal, in a sense, or a spectacle depending how you want to look at it. My mom used to pack my lunch and she would always put give me some fruit. There were days I prayed my mom did not pack watermelon because the entire school would have wrote a thesis on the one black kid eating watermelon. Suburbia isn’t on We All Need Therapy, instead it is in a previous collection entitled “Charm Bracelet” but it is my favorite poem so I wanted to talk about it.
So let me bring it back to the basics here. Why is poetry important to you and what prompted you to begin writing poetry?
Poetry allows me to go to therapy without leaving my bed. I write to process my emotions and thoughts. I write to remain sane. I used to write poems and then throw them away as a means of letting go of that emotion. Now, I write and share them with the world as a means of therapy.
Being a writer myself, I know there are better places than others to find inspired writing. Is there a place you prefer to write?
I am the definition of a hermit. I do not like going out. Of course, I will leave the house at some point, but if given the chance, I would be at home all day, every day. More specifically, I would be in bed all day. That is where I do some of my best writing. I wrote most of We All Need Therapy in bed with the lights off. I can write anywhere, except at a desk. I do not know why sitting at a desk feels like I am confound in a chair, but it does. I do not feel right at a desk.
What do you hope people get from reading We All Need Therapy?
I hope people enjoy before anything else. Outside of that, I hope people find the beauty of vulnerability. I hope they find the importance of telling their story and truth. Our lives could inspire another person to change the world.
Alright, now for a few fastball questions.
Let’s do it.
Gil Scott Heron
What are you currently reading?
Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. I have so many more books I need to read.
If you could have any meal in the world, what would it be?
Steak, veggies and a plain baked potato. I’m vegetarian so it is not as obtainable as it seems.
Favorite guilty pleasure?
“Photograph” by Nickelback. I do not know why that was the first thing that came to mind. I do not even like the song. The only part I like is how he says photograph. But for real, my guilt pleasure might be ice cream. I am ashamed at how much ice cream I can eat. When I got my wisdom teeth removed, I lived off ice cream for two weeks until I could eat solids. I literally only ate ice cream. They put me on a diet of soft foods like jello, puddling, and mashed potatoes. None of the above sounded as enticing as ice cream. Thank you to Wendy’s. Their ice cream saved my life.
You can find Lamar on social media at the links below and check out his works on Amazon.
Thank you for taking your time to interview little ol’ me. I really appreciate it.
Lamar Neal is a poet and author, whose work has been described as "imaginative, mysterious, emotional, and passionate." He has been artistic for as long as he can remember. Years before he ever picked up a pen and paper or laptop to write poetry or stories, he sat in his room recording "television series" with his toys. Inspired by the matters of the heart and soul, music, and the random encounters we experience in life, Lamar takes readers into the world he created. He hopes that his poetry and novels will inspire and bring joy to readers.