Elizabeth Pipko isn’t your typical college student. In addition to attending classes at Harvard University Extension School, Elizabeth is also a model, athlete, and writer! She recently released her second book of poetry entitled About You. In About You, Elizabeth is emotionally candid in her writing, inviting readers to share in her personal coming-of-age journey as she confronts love and loss for the first time. YEM spoke with Elizabeth about her journey as a poet, and the inspiration for her new book.
Young Entertainment Mag: How did you first get involved in poetry? Do you have any influences in poetry?
Elizabeth Pipko: I first got involved in poetry completely by mistake. My first book was basically my diary. I was dealing with a lot and needed to find some kind of release– that ended up being poetry. In terms of influences, I would say I really love both Lang Leav and Shel Silverstein.
YEM: You’re a model, an athlete, and currently a student at Harvard University Extension School. Is it challenging to balance all of that with writing?
Elizabeth: In terms of everything I am doing, I do get extremely overwhelmed and busy. I would say that in terms of writing it isn’t overwhelmingly challenging only because the writing is a tool for me to be able to handle everything else. Of course, timing is difficult when you have a book to edit and release. But in terms of writing in general, I would say it actually helps me be able to deal with everything else that is going on in my life. Sometimes you just need some kind of outlet to release all of your emotions and thoughts, and that is what poetry is for me.
YEM: What inspires your poetry? Is there anything in particular that you like writing about the most?
Elizabeth: I think my own emotions are the only real inspiration for me at this point. I hope to eventually be able to draw from my imagination, but for right now I find it easiest and most rewarding to be able to sit down after a really difficult day and let my emotions out on paper. I think most of my poetry is and always will be about love.
YEM: Your newest poetry book is called About You. What can you tell us about it?
Elizabeth: The book is inspired mostly by a very serious injury I sustained and which took many years to come back from. It was one of the truest heartbreaks I think I will ever experience, as I was forced to give up figure skating, which I consider my first love. It is written as a love story (and the injury and details are never mentioned) so that others can relate to the words, no matter who or what it is that they are missing and longing for.
YEM: This is your second poetry book. How does this differ from your first book?
Elizabeth: I think the first book was more about having a breakthrough. In terms of my first book and where I was when I wrote it, I wanted to force myself to face my feelings and all that had happened to me, and the only way to do that was to publish my poetry, which was like my diary.
My second book was a totally different experience. I put a lot more effort into studying poetry as I was writing, and into the editing and publishing process. Both books mean a lot to me, in very different ways.
YEM: Is it hard to write something so personal for the world to see?
Elizabeth: Extremely hard. I used to re-read old poems and cringe thinking about strangers reading them.
But only now do I realize how important it was for me to write those words and to publish them; so that people dealing with anything similar can feel like they are not alone.
YEM: Which do you prefer more: writing poetry or performing it?
Elizabeth: Definitely writing poetry.
YEM: Finally, what would you tell readers that aren’t familiar with poetry? How would you convince them to give poetry a chance?
Elizabeth: I definitely don’t think poetry is for everyone, I certainly wasn’t a huge fan before I started writing! But I think poetry has a way of accessing your deepest emotions faster than anything else whether those emotions are happiness or misery. And, I think if you want to be in touch with any of those true feelings you should really give poetry a chance.
Elizabeth’s new book About You is available now! The book can be bought here on Amazon. Here is a sneak peek of Elizabeth’s favorite poem from About You, called “puppeteer“:
I’m not awake without you
The days just float on by
I’m not alive without you
Haven’t lived since we said goodbye
I can’t breathe without you
Knowing that you’re not around
I can’t live without you
The day you left, I drowned
I can’t see without you
Nothing looks the way it should
I can’t hear without you
There’s no point in life without you
There’s no life if you’re not here
I’m simply lost without you
You’re my puppeteer