Poet-Witch Amanda Lovelace Talks Writing, Magic, and More
Reading is magic, and no one knows that quite like Amanda Lovelace, poet, author, Scorpio (with an Aquarius moon and a Cancer Rising), and witch. Lovelace took the literary world by storm with her debut collection of poems the princess saves herself in this one in 2016, becoming a USA Today bestseller, and the winner of the Goodread’s choice award for “best poetry” in 2016. In her “women are some kind of magic” series—the witch doesn’t burn in this one and the mermaid’s voice returns in this one—Lovelace combines fantastical elements with themes of trauma, pain, growth, and survival.
Lovelace’s latest book to drink coffee with a ghost (second in her ‘things that h(a)unt’ duloagy) comes out on September 17, and centers on her complicated relationship with her late mother using elements of divination, Tarot, and other magic to navigate the complex grieving process.
We spoke with Lovelace about her relationship with writing, magic, and everything in between.
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A.COM: When did you first get into witchcraft? What drew you to it?
AL: If you’ve read my first book, the princess saves herself in this one, you’ll notice that I dedicated it to Harry Potter. He taught me that I could survive my childhood, but he also filled it with magic, and that became the lens through which I saw my world. Back then (and even now), I was magnetically drawn to all things witchy, though the more fantastical side. Hocus Pocus, Stardust, Charmed…those stories all felt like home to me. I didn’t know why, mostly because I didn’t yet realize that, under all the CGI and special effects, there was something very real that was resonating with me.
When I got into my teens, I became drawn toward the more realistic side of magic—or magick, as some choose to differentiate it. My mother collected Tarot/oracle cards as well as crystals, and I always found them fascinating, so I eventually started my own collections. I found myself reading lots of books on paganism, Wicca, angels, ghosts—you name it. But even during all that, I didn’t feel confident enough to fully delve into the practice. I thought I had to be an expert on the topic in order to become a witch, which made it feel like school, and that stressed me the heck out!
I drifted in and out of my witchcraft interest in the years following. It wasn’t until I joined Tumblr and found the witches (as I seem to have a knack for doing!) that I realized your magick doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re supposed to start small, and it will probably be messy, because that’s how learning goes. It never truly ends. If you feel like a witch, then you’re allowed to call yourself that! I started calling myself one back when all I was doing was reblogging emoji spells and performing subtle coffee/tea incantations, and those kinds of baby witches are just as valid as ones who have been practicing for 50 years.
A.COM: What inspired you to incorporate magical elements in your writing?
AL: At the time I began writing the women are some kind of magic series, most modern poetry collections didn’t have a fantastical element to them, much to my disappointment. As someone who’s always used fairytales as a coping mechanism for trauma—as well as someone who never really stops daydreaming—it didn’t feel like the right way to write my particular story. A story without magic simply isn’t my story, nor would it be a story I would want to tell!
A.COM: Your upcoming book deals with the death of your mother. How has witchcraft and poetry helped you with your grieving process, especially with such a complicated relationship?
AL: Witchcraft gives me a sense of control over my story through divination, spellwork, and manifestation. Poetry helps me write my story and therefore come to terms with it. In that way, they work together seamlessly.
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A.COM: What elements of witchcraft can we expect in your book?
AL: Expect to drink coffee with a ghost to reference hauntings, unexplained occurrences, superstitions, Tarot cards, manifestation, candle magick, Samhain, the unexplainable magick of autumn, and more! Out of all the books I’ve written, this is probably the most “me” one so far. Whereas the witch doesn’t burn in this one is filled with fantasy witches with vengeful fire powers, this is about a real witch…named Amanda.
A.COM: There has been an increased interest in both witchcraft and poetry within the last few years, why do you think both these things have become so popular?
AL: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that witchcraft is primarily associated with womanhood (though, of course, NOT all witches are women) and women make up a large part of the modern poetry audience. We live in a society where anyone who isn’t a straight, white, cis male feels a lack of control. As a result, we go looking for ways to stay empowered. Poetry and witchcraft both offer that. Poetry does it through the honest, written word, and witchcraft does it by quite literally putting power back into our hands.
A.COM: What is the most challenging thing and the most rewarding thing about reading cards?
AL: This may sound strange, but I find the biggest challenge to be reading for myself! They say you’re either good at reading for yourself or good at reading for others, never both. I don’t know if that’s always true, but it is for me. I see so clearly when someone else is the topic of the reading, but reading for myself is like trying to part a cluster of stubborn clouds. I get there eventually, but not without some blood, sweat, tears, and retroactive reflection!!
It is, of course, so rewarding when the cards give me some much-needed clarification, or help me choose the right path in a sticky situation. But, for me, the biggest reward is when I get to give that experience to others through my private and public readings (via Instagram). I truly feel like my purpose is to inspire others in any way I can, and I’m able to fulfill that through my poetry as well as my readings.
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A.COM: What is your favorite Tarot card?
AL: It’s a tie! Temperance is first. It represents balance, and I find that’s often the answer to all things. You can’t have the good without the bad and vice versa. We’re all aware of that song and dance, but we don’t often remember it, nor we do we apply that knowledge to our daily lives. Whenever I get this card, I feel called out, though still always grateful for the kind reminder!
I’m also drawn to The Tower. In some people’s eyes, this is the worst possible card they can get in a reading. I don’t see it that way at all. Yes, it does represent chaos and destruction, but neither of those things are inherently bad. Personally, I interpret The Tower as necessary destruction—to burn down what no longer serves you in order to make room for what does!
A.COM: In your opinion, what does it mean to be a witch in 2019?
AL: To have an unapologetic belief in your own magick.
Lovelace’s book to have coffee with a ghost (illustrated by Munise Sertel) comes out September 17 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Book Depository.
Images c/o Amanda Lovelace; lead image by JV
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