Self love is a continuous, ever-evolving journey. No one understands that better than Melody Godfred, a poet and entrepreneur who has spent the last decade exploring the concept of self love and raising awareness about its importance. In The Shift, Godfred’s second poetry collection out September 27, the self-proclaimed “self love philosopher” takes these themes to a new level, reflecting on the emotions the pandemic awakened and how to more concretely incorporate self love into daily life. Godfred talked with Read Poetry about her writing process, her experience recording an audiobook, and more.
Kara Lewis (KL): What inspired you to write The Shift?
Melody Godfred (MG): I wrote The Shift during the pandemic. It was my coping mechanism to make sense of the dramatic changes we’ve all endured and the uncertainty of what the future would look like. The beauty of these poems is that they aren’t just about making yourself happy and choosing positivity—half of the poems are very much about feeling intense, difficult feelings. But in addition to feeling these feelings, I offer my own transformative shifts forward so that I could design a life that wasn’t based in fear, but that was instead based in love.
KL: How would you describe the main themes of the collection?
MG: The collection offers transformative perspectives, including shifting from fear to love, resistance to surrender, and isolation to community. I reflected on what I was going through as a wife, friend, daughter, and mother. I feel like the pandemic stripped away the distractions that often numb us to our own life experiences. Everything became so vivid for me in terms of who I am and who I’d like to be.
KL: This collection explores similar themes as your past books, but also delves deeper. In what ways did this book feel like a return to you, and in what ways did it feel like a departure or an expansion?
MG: My prior books, especially Self Love Poetry, reflected on how each of us can embody self love in our lives, but it was on a very high level. The poems talk about things in theory, like choosing to practice gratitude or choosing love over doubt. The Shift says, ‘Okay, now that you’ve chosen to live a life of self love, how does that impact your closest relationships? How does that impact your relationship with work? How does that impact how you move through the world?’ The Shift is a follow-up to Self Love Poetry because it takes what was once merely an idea and applies it to daily life.
This is my first poetry book that’s illustrated. When this collection came to my mind, I knew immediately that I wanted this one to include drawings. The poems themselves are often intentionally quite simple, but when you see the line drawings it elevates them and awakens an emotional response. It feels like a new experience for my readers and certainly a new experience for me.
KL: Is there anything that the pandemic did to shift your writing process or your relationship with writing poetry?
MG: In the past, writing poetry was something born from moments of inspiration. It was more of a loose experience, something I did when ideas just floated in. Self Love Poetry is a book that I wrote over the course of five years, whereas writing The Shift became a daily ritual that I practiced to heal myself. I wrote the majority of the poems within six months, which is a lot faster than any of my prior writing experiences. It’s a testament to how much I needed these poems in order to make it through that time period.
KL: Are there any rituals or habits that you think readers can incorporate to make self love a more prominent feature in their daily lives? How do you think that poetry in particular can play into that?
MG: One of the greatest lessons the pandemic taught me is the power of returning to nature as a form of self love. I spent 10 years in front of my computer, both in my career as a writer and in my previous career as a lawyer and entrepreneur. When the pandemic started and work slowed down, I spent more time outside, with a greater focus on my body instead of just my mind. That has become the most enduring self care and self love ritual: Making sure I’m getting sunlight and that I’m moving outside. These things sound simple, but it’s been how I’ve regulated my nervous system and what has sparked my creativity. When you read The Shift, you’ll see that nature plays a huge role. For others who are interested in poetry, either as a reader or as a writer, the beauty of poetry is that it can be inspired by the most simple things. When we keep our eyes and hearts open, there’s inspiration everywhere. The Shift reflects that—inspiration came in the most unassuming places.
KL: You recently recorded an audiobook version of The Shift. What was that experience like, and how did it deepen or change your relationship with your poetry?
I absolutely loved recording my audiobook. It felt like the culmination of my life’s work and purpose in a lot of ways. When I was younger, I was a singer and musician, and also did a lot of public speaking. To be able to use my voice to bring my poetry to life felt like being the truest, fullest version of myself. Reading these poems allowed me to express exactly what I felt when I wrote them. I actually got pretty emotional throughout the recording because it all came back to me.
KL: What’s the number one thing that you hope readers take away from this collection?
MG: In this collection, the left side of every page is the ‘before.’ It’s the anxiety, the fear, and the conflict. The right side offers the relief, the ease, the peace, the pleasure, and the return to self. My hope is that by going through both the ‘before’ and the ‘after,’ every reader experiences the same sense of release.
Order Melody Godred’s The Shift here.
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