Written by Jenni Harris
Photographed by Sarah Grace Kivett
When I sat down to begin my interview with poet Becca Naylor, I asked her where she had grown up and got five answers. “We moved around a lot,” she said, listing one Upstate town after the next: Berea, Liberty, Easley, Cleveland, Greenville, giving me small details about each home. One was a mountain cabin, another an apartment, and there had even been a house with a bedroom so big that she was scared of it.
However, one thing that has remained constant throughout all of those transitions is Becca’s love of words. When asked, “Why poetry?” She smiled, and began to flip idly through a thin, blue notebook. “I just really like words…. stringing them together without punctuation and seeing what happens.” The pages of that notebook are littered with the words and phrases that she comes across each day, the ones she especially likes. She puts them down on paper and then tries to connect them, building meaning as she goes.
While this writing method might seem unconventional to some, the practice of starting with the bare essentials is no foreign concept to Becca, an art minor. In fact, she draws a lot of comparisons between her writing and her art, particularly ceramics. The earthy, organic, almost primitive feel of clay between her fingers feels a whole lot like forming the connections between words that ultimately communicate her ideas about the world she lives in, the worlds she used to live in, and about nature. She builds her poems hands-on and then, like sticking a ceramic piece in the fiery kiln to bake, she refines her writing until it will withstand the flames. “I shave things down, build them back up, and just hope they come out okay,” she said.
It’s no surprise that the young girl who had once been afraid of her own room would later find herself eager to write about the world beyond those walls. When asked what she most enjoys writing about, Becca named nature among her favorite subjects. “I like writing about a spiritual connection to nature, about how we can see God there…about appreciating the beauty of it and its existence.” And when asked what she would write about if she could only write about one thing for the rest of her life, her eyes immediately gravitated toward the window and she answered simply, “Trees.”
If she has her way, you might one day find Becca nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, selling honey at a local farmer’s market. Or maybe working a day job at a publishing business. But let us all hope that wherever she may be, she is still carrying around her little blue notebook, jotting down words, and writing poetry.