Meet Atticus: The Masked Instagram Poet
Think poetry’s answer to Banksy. Whether you’re into poems or not, anonymous Canadian poet Atticus (@atticuspoetry), is taking Instagram by storm. Trust us, hit follow. Achingly poignant and relatable, his latest title The Dark Between Stars, explores the inescapable connections between our highest highs and lowest lows. Intrigued and in search of clues behind this illusive talent, we caught up with the man behind the mask.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a poet. Were poetry and literature things you were always interested in?
Poetry happened to me by accident. I didn’t grow up writing! Although, my mother did surround me with the books of dead poets, which I’m sure must have had some effect. I actually wrote my first poem in Paris. I was walking around after it had just rained and I saw something I thought was particularly beautiful. I wrote down some words about it on my phone and then later on, I decided to type them out on a typewriter and post it online. It was kind of just a spur of the moment decision. I never seriously considered the idea that other people might be interested in reading it.
What makes Instagram a good outlet for your work?
I guess I’ve always like epigrams, aphorisms, and turns of phrase, and Instagram plays well to that short form. I do write longer pieces, but I typically save them for other mediums or my books.
Where do you go to seek inspiration for your poems?
I find inspiration all around me – in nature, life experiences, travelling, exploring. I also ride a motorcycle which has always allowed me time to think.
Tell us a little bit about how your debut collection Love Her Wild came to be. What inspired you to create it?
I’d never really considered writing a book. Until a few years ago, a book agent reached out to me and encouraged me to explore the idea of writing one. It’s been an incredible journey! I’ve found the entire process both humbling and inspiring.
The Dark Between Stars is “sequel-like” in that it builds off the themes explore in Love Her Wild, but it also initiates a new journey through the experiences of losing love and searching for true self. Paris, travelling, drinking wine, and beautiful sunsets also feature heavily in this one.
You write under the pseudonym of ‘Atticus’. Is there a particular reason you opted for publishing your work under the name of such a world-renowned philosopher?
I’ve always liked the name Atticus. After I first chose it, I discovered there once was an ancient Greek nation of Attica and the Atticans were famous philosophers and poets, which made me like it even more. I’m also, of course, a huge Harper Lee fan. But ultimately, the choice was as simple as liking the name.
Why have you chosen anonymity? Do you think that it has an effect on how people receive your work?
I hope it does. I hope it allows readers to put whoever they want behind the mask. A psychologist came to my live show recently, and she noted, “I think it’s quite fitting that your mask is mirrored. It allows people to see themselves in you.” I loved that. I told her from now on that I would say that was always my original intent.
When did you first realise that your words could help others?
Two weeks ago, I held a young lady’s hand as she passed away. She had cancer and wrote poetry all the way through her treatment to give her strength. She even got a tattoo of my words on her arm. It was one of the most profoundly human moments of my life. I’ve been constantly humbled by the responses I’ve received.
Oh, wow! What effect do you hope your work has on others?
An older gentlemen came up to me the other night. He said he’d lost his wife a year before to Alzheimer’s and that he’d given up on ever finding love again. He told me he had found my book, Love Her Wild, and in the simplest way, was reminded of what it meant to be in love. Now, he has found love again, and with tears in his eyes, he said, “I can’t wait to go home and read her this poem tonight. It says what I haven’t been able to say about how much I love her.” I’ve personally been guided and inspired by so many people throughout my life. So if people are inspired, encouraged or uplifted by something I’ve written, that means the world to me.
Tell us a little bit about the poem that’s inspired you most as a poet…
There’s an F. Scott Fitzgerald poem that I read when I was younger, titled Summer Storm. It’s one of my favourites. Although it’s not a poem, I’ve also always found the last passage in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road inspiring:
“So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, and all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? the evening star must be drooping and shedding her sparkler dims on the prairie, which is just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all the rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old, I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty.”
Both of those pieces of writing evoke strong emotions for me.
For those who perhaps aren’t really into reading, why should they pick up a book of your poetry?
Poetry always finds you when you most need it to.