How To Find Creative Inspiration With Poet Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol
Being a writer is a strange and wonderful thing and this is something contemporary poet Mirtha Michelle Castro Mármol knows all too well. When creating her two acclaimed books, Letters, To The Men I Have Loved and Elusive Loves, she often found herself between joy and despair, inspiration and melancholy. Castro is the embodiment of dedication, passion, and love, and she translates this into each word she writes.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Mármol moved to Miami at the age of 5. She always had a desire to create, but it was something her father told her that sealed her fate as a writer. "My father and I were planting a tree outside one day and he told me a Hebrew proverb about the measure of a man. He said that there are 3 things that secures one's immortality. They are: planting a tree, having a child, and writing a book. These things live on forever, they are seeds that continue to grow. From there I knew I wanted to write a book one day."
Tell us how "Letters To The Men I've Loved" came to fruition? How long did the process take?
I've been writing poetry religiously since the age of 13. It's always been cathartic for me. By the time I was 21, I had written my first book. However, I never published it. After that, I wrote my second book, but decided not to publish that as well. "Letters" was my third book and I finally had the courage to put it out into the world. I decided to self-publish because I didn't want to wait for someone else to do it for me. It was a huge learning experience and require a lot of dedication. But I was ready, this time I was ready. For everything, there is divine timing.
"Letters" is written to various men in your life who have shaped it in one way or another. What did you want these men to learn from your book?
When I wrote "Letters, To The Men I Have Loved" I wrote it with the idea of telling these men how I truly felt. For example, for my nephew, if anything were to ever happen to me, I wanted him to know just how much he means to me. I want these men to always know what they meant to me and how they shaped my life. For my dating life, I wrote about three men in particular, all anonymous. With one man in particular, I really wanted him to read it and know what he put me through. I think everyone writes for one specific reader and it certainly helped me shape the book.
What do you want your readers to learn from your book?
I'll never write a book like "Letters" again because I don't think I'll experience that much pain again. I believe in constant growth. If I'm sharing negative experiences from my past, it's because I know that other people are going through it and I want to empower them. I'm not going to repeat the same mistakes and experience the same pain. Usually women date the same type of man and they don't learn from their mistakes. They may date different men, but they may all share the same qualities, and doing so is only repeating the past. I don't want to go down that path. I want to grow and I want to encourage my readers to grow.
What books have inspired you as a writer?
I actually have a few books that, from time to time, I'll open and turn to when I need inspiration. Pablo Neruda is someone who made me fall in love with poetry. There is also a book that was recommended to me by an acting coach a while back. It's called "Letters To A Young Poet" and it's what inspired the title of my book. The book is actually the correspondence between the author and a young aspiring poet. I recommend this book to anyone who needs creative inspiration. In one part, the author advises this young poet to stay still and ask himself, in the solitude of night, if he were forbidden to write, how would his soul react? If you're forbidden to do something, is it something your spirit and soul will cry out for? That's when I realized that I had to publish my book and stop hiding behind fear. If I never did it, my soul would have cried out for it and it would have been hard for me to ignore. I've given this book to so many people as gifts throughout my life. I'm always hoping it will speak to others as it spoke to me.
What a wonderful gift! What is the best gift you've ever received?
When my nanny died, she left me her Bible and it's completely priceless. My nanny was like a second mom to me and we had an incredible connection. The Bible not only signifies the word of God, but anytime I read from it, I feel like I have a piece of her with me.
What advice can you give to aspiring writers?
The creative world can drain you so much. It's an unstable world and never the same every day. There is never an actual routine unless you make one. Although it can be extremely satisfying, it can also be very frustrating at times. You are constantly trying to top the last thing you did or sometimes the words just don't come. Only living will give you experiences to be a true artist. You know, I love being alone. I need solitary moments, I call it hibernation. I need solitude to search my soul and find inspiration to write. But then I also need to interact with people. People help us grow. Pain causes us to grow. People are necessary for life, to live life. It's important to find that balance, because if you give too much to people, then you'll drain yourself.
How do you treat yourself? What do you splurge on?
I love to travel. I'd rather spend my money on a plane ticket than on an expensive purse. I cherish experiences over material things. My mom once said to me, "What stories are you going to tell if you don't live?"
We love seeing your latest travels on Instagram. Your feed is filled with so much glamour!
Yes and no. Instagram doesn't show the struggle. I have plenty of stories to share on struggle. I have friends who are in the film and fashion business, and while it seems like a glamourous life, social media doesn't highlight the amount of work, struggle, and sacrifice one makes to live these so-called "picture perfect" lives. People place expectations on others that they shouldn't. Not everyone in your life is going to be exciting or adventurous. You shouldn't be afraid of having different types of friendships. You need different types of friendships for different aspects of your life.
When you're in hibernation mode, what TV shows or music do you turn on?
I'm not the trendiest person. I'm not big on the Top 40. However, I love listening to Spanish ballads, music that actually has lyrics! I also love Shakira, her slower songs and Sade. I listen to different artists depending on my mood. I also love to learn. I know this sounds weird, but I love watching "Ancient Aliens" on The History Channel. I must have lived a few past lives from this era because I'm so drawn to learning about these past civilizations. I love learning about history and the mistakes we've made and how we, as a civilization, have overcome them.