Third-year student Andrea Doe always had an affinity for literature; the English major recalls reading classics such as the Harry Potter series as a child and writing poetry in elementary school. However, it wasn’t until mid-high school that Doe took the hobby more seriously, and it was just within the last year that she realized that becoming a poet could be “a viable career.”
Since then, Doe has been busy writing pieces of poetry to compile in her book “Nightmare,” which was published this February. Her desire to become a professional writer was set into motion after meeting professional poets at Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern’s slam poetry performances.
“I saw people performing, and I’ve met poets who are like, that’s their career,” said Doe. “I’ve met people who wrote poetry books and went on to go into journalism, and I [realized] I can actually do this and make money. I felt like I had to, if that makes sense.”
She was also inspired by another Case Western Reserve University student who was a published author. Consulting the internet, Doe researched other poets and found out that quite a few of them were self-published, and she decided to do the same thing.
Doe’s book focuses mostly on recent experiences at CWRU, which, as a minority student, “has its own challenges.” It covers topics such as race, social isolation and mental illness.
“With writing and doing poetry slams, what I talk about is what it’s like being here as a black student,” she said. “Just my experiences in institutions.”
Being an English major has also exposed Doe to a wide array of genres, which she says has helped her with finding new forms of syntax and sentence structure to implement into her poetry. An Ohio native, she cites fellow Ohioan Toni Morrison as one of her sources of inspiration. The genres she draws the most influence from are Gothic fiction and African-American literature.
“I remember my teacher said [that] if you want to be a good writer you have to be a good reader,” said Doe. “All these literature classes I’ve chosen to take [have] really informed my work.”
As for why she enjoys poetry over other mediums, Doe appreciates the ability for poetry to act as an outlet for her emotions. Although she also writes short stories, she feels that poetry is the most authentic.
“With poetry, I don’t hide behind characters. It’s the place I can be the most emotional and poetic and creative in a short period of time,” she explained.
This can be seen through Doe’s writing process, of which “around 95 percent” takes place on her phone, allowing her to record the spontaneous moments of inspiration which occur in day-to-day life. After she’s finished, she consolidates all her work into a Microsoft Word document.
Outside of class, she also performs her poetry at Happy Dog. Having danced ballet when she was younger and participated in theater and debate in high school, the stage feels natural to her. It also helps that she “doesn’t know the people in the crowd,” and even if she does, “the lights are so blinding that you can’t see anyone physically.”
Doe can be found on Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter as @nyenekondoe, where she posts her poetry and short stories. Her book “Nightmare” can be downloaded on Amazon Kindle.