Happy National Poetry Month!!!! I am so excited to share an interview with one of my favorite writers today! Cyrus Parker is an incredible poet and will be releasing a new book on May 7th masquerade is beautiful and important and is sure to have a lasting effect on many readers. We were lucky enough to be able to chat a little with Cyrus about the upcoming release of masquerade and even managed to snag a sneak peek at a poem to share with you! Make sure to read all the way to the bottom to check it out and without further ado let’s jump right into the interview!!!
Summer: Hey, Cyrus! Thanks for hanging out today! I am stoked for everyone to read masquerade and even more stoked to get to chat with you during National Poetry Month!! Since this month is about all things poetry related – can I ask who your current favorite poets are? Can you share what books you’re loving right now?
Cyrus: Thanks for having me! I appreciate the kind words, and Happy National Poetry Month! I hope you’ve been reading some great poems!
So my current list of favorite poets probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but here we go!
Amanda Lovelace (naturally), Trista Mateer, Iain. S. Thomas, K.Y. Robinson, Nikita Gill, Caitlyn Siehl, Yena Sharma Purmasir, Gretchen Gomez, Kim Addonizio, Edgar Allan Poe, and Langston Hughes, just to name a few.
As far as books go, I’ve recently finished Iain’s newest book, Every Word You Cannot Say, and it’s an amazing piece of work. I highly recommend listening to the audio book while reading it because no one reads a poem like Iain, and the book itself is too beautifully done to not look at!
Since coming out as non-binary, I’ve made it a point to look for other non-binary poets to read, and I’ve just started working my way through Andrea Gibson’s work. I’m currently reading Pansy, and most recently finished Lord of the Butterflies, both of which I highly recommend.
Wow. That list is absolutely incredible. I am also a huge fan of everyone you mentioned, including Iain! I think you’ve just convinced me to move Every Word You Cannot Say to the top of my TBR list!
Your new book masquerade releases in May – can you tell me a little about what it’s about?
masquerade is a book of poetry about finding your place in a world that may not be ready for you, and at its heart, is about honesty. It’s about being honest with yourself, honest with others, and making sure people are honest with you. One of the reasons I chose to call it masquerade is because once the masquerade is over, the masks come off and your true identity is no longer a secret. The title is also a reference to me coming into my own identity, as well.
The book is split up into three sections:
The first section is almost like a loose narrative of my life spanning from childhood to adulthood, focusing on the struggle to find acceptance from others, as well as myself. It’s in this section I also write about gender and me coming to terms with the fact that I am non-binary.
The second section deals with relationships, both familial and romantic. Here, I write a bit about my father, tie up any loose ends that were left in DROPKICKromance, and catch the reader up on mine and Amanda’s life from where DROPKICK left off.
The third section shifts the tone a little bit. Where the first two sections were a bit heavier and super personal to me, the third section is meant to be more uplifting and relatable. I wanted the book to have something in it for everyone, so while the emotions behind the poems in the third section come from a very real place, they’re not as me-centric as the poems in the first two sections are.
I also did some interior artwork for the book so that’s cool!
I love that you made sure to include something for everyone in masquerade while still keeping it super personal. Like most people, I absolutely loved your debut collection, Dropkickromance, and I am already a huge fan of masquerade. Your ability to tell your story is unmatched – can you discuss your writing process?
You’re far too kind, Summer!
I’ll be completely honest—I don’t spend nearly as much time writing as I should. In a perfect world, I try to write something every day, even if it’s just a thought that I can go back to and build on later. In a less perfect world, I get distracted way too easily, fail to hold myself accountable, and sometimes go days, even weeks without writing. By default, this makes me a more of a “write when inspiration hits” type, although I really do want to make it a point to write more regularly.
When I do write, my favorite times to do so are typically the early morning, or late at night. In the morning, I like to take in the quiet calm, sit with a cup of coffee next to me, and be alone with my thoughts. At night, I set the mood with music, (occasionally) have a glass of whiskey, and let myself unwind.
I love the idea of waking up before the sun and writing with coffee beside you, but the whiskey and music option sounds just as amazing! Now that you’re a seasoned professional with two books under your belt, what has been the most surreal moment as a writer so far?
Hah! I’d hardly call myself seasoned, but I appreciate the sentiment! I think the most surreal moment hasn’t really been one moment specifically, but a type of moment, and those are the ones in which I get to interact with my readers. Now, I have a bad case of social anxiety so it’s not always easy for me to talk one on one with people, but when someone comes up to me and tells me how much my words have helped them, or tells me that my book was their first poetry book ever, or even the first book they’ve ever read on their own, it makes everything absolutely worth it. I write for myself, but I also write so others might feel less alone. The world is a terrifying place, and it’s always nice to know that there are other people out there who’ve been through what you’ve been through, and feel the same things you feel.
Yes!! Knowing you aren’t alone in feeling a certain way is always comforting and I think that’s why masquerade is going to resonate with so many people!
Can you share what you’re working on next? Or maybe an excerpt from masquerade?
I’m kind in between projects, at the moment. I’m definitely writing more poetry and I absolutely plan on compiling another collection, but this is the first time I’m going in without a solid vision in mind. I want to make sure I’m not putting something out for the sake of putting something out—I want to make sure I still have something meaningful to say. I’m also thinking about revisiting a fantasy novel I had started working on a few years ago during NaNoWriMo!
And here’s an excerpt from masquerade:
every time i peel back another layer, every time i feel like
i’ve finally gotten to the very core of who i am, i find that
i’ve still done little more than scratch the surface. so i peel,
and i peel, and i peel, and i peel, and i peel, and i begin
wondering if i even really exist or if i’m just a collection
of everything i’d hoped to be but never became.
AHHHHHH I love it so much!! I am such a huge fan of your writing and of masquerade in particular and I cannot wait for the world to experience it!!! Thanks for dropping by and answering a few questions!!!
Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me, Summer!
About Cyrus Parker:
Cyrus Parker is a pro-wrestler-turned-poet hailing from a small town in New Jersey alongside wife and poetess Amanda Lovelace and their two ragdoll cats, Macchiato and Rosé. A self-described “big goth kid,” Cyrus has an affinity for dark eyeshadow, dark clothes, enamel pins, and dropkicking the gender binary.
Visit Cyrus’ Website: http://cyrusparker.com/index.html
Follow Cyrus on Instagram: http://instagram.com/cyrusparker
Order Dropkick Romance: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1449493009/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_qawcCb3VHRJFW
Preorder Masquerade: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1449497098/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_NfwcCb69ADVEN
Order Disconnected Anthology: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1771681454/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_ep_dp_yjwcCb0DM6HC9
masquerade by Cyrus Parker, out May 7th!
Non-binary poet Cyrus Parker returns with an all-new collection of poetry and prose dedicated to those struggling to find their own identity in a world that often forces one into the confines of what’s considered “socially acceptable.”
Divided into three parts and illustrated by Parker, masquerade grapples with topics such as the never-ending search for acceptance, gender identity, relationships, and the struggle to recognize your own face after hiding behind another for so long.