Poet and “Small Cures” Author Della Hicks-Wilson, at home in London
P: Interacting with Small Cures is so lyrical – a book length piece that reads so completely at once, and also each page as a singular piece. You’ve also taken the reader on a journey through diagnosis, treatment and recovery in your chapter structure. What does this type of form mean to you personally and creatively? How did it evolve?
D: It became quite apparent early in the curation of this book that most of the pieces I had been publishing on Tumblr, initially, were centred around healing and self-love and I wanted to bring the poems together with a strong and clear concept that documented that journey. So, I took quite a literal approach when brainstorming ideas and landed on the medical theme. Personally, it speaks to a time when I was navigating the loss of a relationship and words - not just poetry or literature - but conversations were such a salve and I wanted to recreate that in the form of this dialogue between a doctor and patient doing the exact same thing.
“I want people to think about their vastness and their boundaries, about their journey on this Earth and how they occupy an important space on it” – Della Hicks-Wilson
P: You self-published Small Cures. What was that process like?
D: It was all the things you would expect any new undertaking to be - thrilling, scary, challenging - but now that I am agented with a publishing contract, I would say that it was all perfect preparation for the traditional book publishing process. It forced me to look at the book as a product and not just a work of art, because I was responsible for how it showed up in the world and how I wanted it to be received. All of that is so important when you are querying agents, pitching a book to a publisher or in the throes of giving crucial input to the design and marketing elements.
P: After an extraordinary response online and as a self-published piece, Small Cures has now it has been picked up by a well-known publishing house [Andrews McMeel Publishing]. What is your vision for the book?
D: It’s been mind-blowing to see how much the book has impacted people and how it’s been such a helpful resource, particularly at this time which is filled with so much angst and uncertainty. This book has really taken up space in people’s hearts. My readers have been so incredibly transparent with me when it comes to the role these words have played in their lives, their work and their relationships and it’s beautiful and humbling. My hope is that Small Cures continues to find many more readers who need these words and that the book is really used by them. I want it to be the book that lives at the bottom of bags and on nightstands and an offering in healing spaces people may visit too.
“…anyone who travels you should be worthy of doing so and value every step they take” – Della Hicks-Wilson
P: The Waxing Poetic piece that bears your words “you are sacred land” – what might come to one’s mind when wearing a piece like this?
D: I want people to think about their vastness and their boundaries, about their journey on this Earth and how they occupy an important space on it and, as the rest of the poem implies, that anyone who travels you should be worthy of doing so and value every step they take.
P: What other poet’s and author’s works are touchstones for you? What are you currently reading?
D: A collection that I read for the first time last year that I keep returning to is Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith. They have this incredible way of transforming some of most heart-breaking issues of our time and infusing beauty and joy where you think there would be none. I just finished Jasmine Mans new collection, Black Girl, Call Home and it is one those books that give you permission as a writer to just write and be as raw as you want, and I love it for that.
P: You are among some brilliant, brave and wonderful women’s voices being published now. How does that feel? Who inspires you?
D: I feel honoured to be writing at this time, I think that there is an important canon of work being created right now that is accessible, relatable, and as you said, brave, that is so, so necessary. I feel that poetry is doing the work it is supposed to when it exists in this way.
“My hope is that Small Cures continues to find many more readers who need these words and that the book is really used by them. I want it to be the book that lives at the bottom of bags and on nightstands and an offering in healing spaces people may visit too.”