Girls Are Coming out of the Woods

Raquel Franco’s Most Boss Year Yet – li Voices

raquel franco poet interview
raquel franco poet interview

We can’t get enough of Raquel Franco and she’s keeping us wild.

Raquel Franco is everything writer, poet, mother, creative, author, woman, and inspiration. Franco is the author of Keep Me Wild and co-author of [Dis]connected: Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise Volume 2, which is released this October. Franco is in good company with some of 2019’s other poets of the year like; Alicia Cook, Tyler Knott Gregson, Courtney Peppernell, Noah Milligan, Komal Kapoor, N.L. Shompole, Caitlyn Siehl, K.Y. Robinson, and Wilder Poetry. Franco’s language is layered with strands of empowerment and bravery. Little Infinite got to chat with Franco and, what a joy! She shares why she came back to poetry, why she removed her first book from print, and what keeps her writing. Boss moves only, plz.

“Poetry provides healing for the writer and the reader.”

Raquel Franco

little infinite: When did you know poetry would be the writing outlet for you? Introduce us to your journey to poetry and how you got to where you are currently. 

Raquel Franco: As early as I can remember I was always writing stories and poems. I wanted to create a new world through words. Sadly after high school I turned away from it but in the past five years I came back to poetry as an outlet for my depression. To release all the ache I started sharing poems on Tumblr and soon turned to Instagram after seeing other poets make the transition. I’ve built so many beautiful relationships on the platform and grown as a writer because of the poets I’ve met. I remember being in third grade and telling my teacher I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I lost that dream somehow along the way but it came back to me and I am so thankful.

li: What is your weekly work-flow like? If you could dish on the “weirdest” or the most unique part of your creative process, what would it be? How do you stay organized and focused as a writer?

RF: Every week I try to plan out goals for myself. Some of them include things like editing my manuscript, sending queries to agents, changing up my hashtags, seeing what my followers are up to, writing pieces for online magzines, etc. I am a mother of two so I don’t always get them all done but if I complete two items and write every day I am happy. I try to write everyday and most days I do. Honestly I always get the best ideas when I am driving in the car. Don’t tell on me but if I don’t write it down it leaves me, so yes, sometimes I type and drive. I rationalize that if it came to me at that moment I must be safe. Right? Otherwise I choose when I write depending on my mood. Sometimes I write in the morning before anyone wakes up. Sometimes I write while my daughter naps or after dinner. I am always on the couch. I go back and forth between writing in a journal or the Notes app on my phone. Lately I have had writers block and when that happens I try to re-write old poems or read my favorite poets to get inspiration.

li: You have two published books, Keep Me Wild and Love, Sex and Paper Hearts. How was the publishing process different for each of these books? What lesson did you learn while finishing your first book that made a difference when you were writing and publishing “Keep Me Wild?”

RF: I actually removed Love, Sex and Paper Hearts from print. I feel that I have grown so much as a writer that it doesn’t really portray the writer that I am today. I am proud of it though. A lot of work goes into self-publishing, from editing, re-organizing, designing the layout, choosing a cover artist and more. The first book was a collection of poems I had already written so it didn’t take me as long. “Keep Me Wild” took much longer to create. I spent two hours every Sunday working on new pieces. I had beta readers and fellow poets to help me edit the work. It was a real labor of love.

li: You are one of the contributors to [Dis]Connected: Poems & Stories of Connection and Otherwise Volume 2. This collection is highly anticipated and is being released this October, congrats! What was it like working with nine of the most popular poets of 2019? How did the collaboration process go when writing a collection of poetry?

RF: Honestly, I still can’t believe it’s real. LOL. I am honored to be along side such amazing talent. And Tyler Knott (pinch me) was one of the first poets I discovered five years ago and he inspired me to take my writing to the next level. I really connected with K.Y. Robinson on the project and we were able to share our anxieties and stresses over the writing process. I had never had deadlines before and it definitely added pressure that I had not had before. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was a very streamlined process and I enjoyed editing my short story with publisher and editor, Michelle Haskett. She really opened my eyes to how the reader views a story. After receiving the first round of edits I got so stuck in my head and got blocked. The story I share is fiction but loosely written from my own life experience. I felt so close to the story I didn’t want to let certain details go, but after talking with her and taking time to remove myself from it, I think I was able to create something that I hope readers can relate to and find healing in. 

li: You have cultivated a community of almost 36 thousand followers on Instagram. What motivated you to share your words with the online community? Were you reluctant to leverage social media as a writer at all? Explain the process of deciding to include social media.

RF: At first I was terrified. It is such a vulnerable feeling to put your art and emotions online. I broke through that fear by telling myself not many would see it, but then I started to receive messages from women telling me my words were helping them. I felt so honored and humbled and hopeful. As a girl, I remember feeling really alone and feeling like nobody understood me or what I was going through. I write for that girl now and I hope my words help others feel less alone in this world. 

“I write for that girl now and I hope my words help others feel less alone in this world.”

Raquel Franco

li: What is the most surprising aspect of the poetry community online so far? What are the biggest pros and cons of the community?

RF: The support I have found is amazing. I feel blessed to have met artists to collaborate with, to share each others work with, to get advice from. I have even had the pleasure of meeting some poets in person. I went to New York a few years ago and met so many amazing souls. Thinking of cons is hard. The only thing that I find disappointing within the community is when poets attack one another for stealing work. I understand that sometimes it’s warranted but in a lot of cases I don’t think the artist was stealing. We are going to have the same ideas, emotions and thoughts sometimes and when we are sharing shorter pieces online it’s bound to happen. I think we should let it go and move on in that situation.

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You ARE magic! ???? Image by @ellegramm

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li: Which types of poems do you find your audience responds to the most? Have you found this influences the content in your poetry? Why or why not?

RF: My most popular pieces are the ones where I am telling the audience that they are stronger than they think they are. I also noticed that the pieces where I write about not settling for less than you deserve in love really resonate. It definitely influences which pieces I want to share. Lately, I have struggled with which pieces to share as I am going through a tough time in my life. When I am in this place most of the work that comes out of me is about the struggle. With that, I have feared that I am letting my readers down. I’ve had to remind myself that I will get through this and it’s good for people to see the fall and the rise. Growing never ends. Tough times never end.  

li: Your poetry is incredibly empowering, especially for women. We love it, thank you! What advice do you have for women struggling in this industry?

RF: No, thank you!! I want to tell them: Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. Research. Research. Research and reach out to other poets in the community. We are all here to help! Set goals for yourself and wake up every day promising yourself you will do one thing that will get you closer to your dreams. Trust in your story. I 100% believe that the pain we suffer is for a reason. Your journey is meant to be shared to help the next person in need of healing.

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Mouthful. ???? @juliatreg

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“Trust in your story. I 100% believe that the pain we suffer is for a reason.”

Raquel Franco

li: What does “Poetry for Life” mean to you? 

RF: Poetry for me is home. Whenever I have no place to go I always have poetry. Poetry is all about human connection and self-expression. Poetry provides healing for the writer and the reader. It’s so powerful to think about the impact words have on two strangers across the world, whether through pages, speakers, or on screen. It is truly beautiful.

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Tomorrow is a new day. ???? @rusticbones

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To keep up with Raquel Franco, follow her on Instagram (@raquelfranco.poet) or on Facebook, here. Find her book, Keep Me Wild: here!

Girls Are Coming out of the Woods