Samantha L. Terrell, author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter’s Grove Press); the chapbook Keeping Afloat (JC STUDIO Press); and, most recently, Simplicity, and Other Things We Overcomplicate, is an internationally published American poet whose books have received 5-star reviews on various platforms. Her poetry, which emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness, has appeared in dozens of in-print and online publications. In 2021, she received First Honorable Mention in the “Anita McAndrews Poets for Human Rights Awards” organized by Poets Without Borders. Terrell’s invented form – the poetic Trinitas – is featured in her forthcoming book, Things Worth Repeating? (Summer 2022). She and her family reside in upstate New York.
What is your biggest motivator?
I entered the poetry world from a different place than some, as I’m not formally educated in Literature. In college, I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Sociology, and had a former career in human services. All this is to say, I’ve always had a passion for social issues, and the biggest “motivator” behind my writing is probably my desire to help detangle social and emotional complexities. I like to say my poetry emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness.
How many publishers turned you down?
The simple answer is, I don’t know. I began submitting my work for publication in journals, chapbooks, lit mags, etc. when we were still sending off paper submissions. It was very tedious and not at all rewarding. The internet has greatly improved the process, and through the years, I have, happily, become widely published. Still, as writers we will always be plagued with rejections! My method for dealing with them is simple…never keep track. I delete all rejections and move on.
How hard was it to get your first (debut) book (collection) published?
Early on, I made a commitment to myself not to use a vanity press. My goal was to have my first book (legitimately) published by age 40. While it seemed reasonable at the time, it proved otherwise. So, after many years of rejections and my 40th birthday come and gone, I had to reassess. I’ve never had an agent, so I was already precluded from any presses which require one, but at that point I also stopped entering paid chapbook competitions of any sort and began avoiding academic presses. I turned my focus entirely to small presses, or contests with no reading fees.
Then one day, during 2020, one of my manuscripts clicked with an indie press in Arizona (U.S.A.). At first, I couldn’t believe I had been offered a contract. I remember looking at my family and asking, is this real? I was very skeptical and kept thinking it was some kind of a scam! I can assure you, it was no scam. Publishing with Potter’s Grove Press was a positive experience, and the EIC, River Dixon, was very nice to work with. Holding my debut collection in my hands was a dream come true!
What can you tell us about your next book?
Well first, I should say I’ve had two books come out since my debut. My chapbook Keeping Afloat was published Fall 2021, by the lovely Jane Cornwell of JC STUDIO Press in Glasgow. And, I have recently self-published my second full collection Simplicity, and Other Things We Overcomplicate.
However, my NEXT book is an exciting new adventure for me! The title of my book is Things Worth Repeating? For this book, I’ve used an invented form which I’m calling a poetic Trinitas (meaning “three in one”). You can read all about the poetic Triniatas, as well as an advance review of my book, on my website: http://www.samanthaterrell.com/poetictrinitas.html
What will always distract you?
As a wife and mom of two amazing kids (everyone who has kids says they are amazing, but mine really are…wink-wink, haha!!), I will always happily oblige the “distraction” which is family – including extended family needs at times. As writers, probably one of the most important pieces of success is to learn to prioritize. Distractions are inevitable, so you have to learn what works for you!