As becoming a poet and getting a book of her poetry published goes, Lela Cintron didn’t arrive at either in a traditional way.
Cintron, 41, of Elgin, says she had never been much of a writer, although friends have told her she wrote poetry back in school, which she doesn’t remember.
But three years ago and after 12 years on medications for bipolar disorder, Cintron began writing as a form of therapy for the disease.
“I didn’t even know that I could,” write poetry until she started, Cintron said.
“Whatever I can’t say, I can write,” Cintron said. “It is that simple. Instead of crying, I write. Instead of getting angry, I write.”
That poetry, however, wasn’t in a journal or in a computer. Cintron said she is technology-challenged.
“My kids say I kill technology,” the mother of four laughed, adding she also has arthritis so it is hard to type on a traditional keyboard.
So, Cintron started writing poetry by typing it onto her phone and posting it to her Facebook profile. Then, she started a page on the social media site just for her musings, and did the same on Instagram.
“I realized I could put things down (in writing) better than I could speak it,” Cintron said.
She found other writers’ works posted online, and began to read the longer pieces and not just the excerpts, Cintron said. She realized she wanted to write more, too, and used Instagram to do that.
She gathered a few followers — about 460 on the site. Her Facebook page for her writing, Scripts Straight from the Vein, has 600 followers.
Then, one of those Instagram followers — a small publisher out of Vancouver, Washington — contacted her through the site last November and asked if Cintron would put her work into a book.
The book, “Into the Further” will be released from Rainy Day Reads Publishing later this spring, Cintron said. The editing process has been back-and-forth for the past three months.
What attracted the publisher to Cintron was “The depth of her emotions in her words. Her work is stunning and easy to relate to for many,” said Sameena Bachmeier, owner/publications manager for Rainy Day Reads.
The publisher’s website, rainydayreadspublishing.com, has the book available for pre-sale now.
The 150-page book’s cover is a shot of a three-quarter moon — a shot taken by a friend of the moon over Elgin, she said.
Her poetry isn’t all about depression or living with bipolar disorder, Cintron said.
“It is everything. It is love and sadness and scary and recollections … it is a variety. It is not a theme of darkness, not a theme of positivity,” Cintron said.
“But I hope (readers) find themselves in it and can relate,” she said.
She writes about friends and family in her work — and they might recognize themselves in the poetry, Cintron said.
She also writes — mostly in freeform but occasionally in a metered format — about aging.
One of the first things she wrote was about how excited she was to find her first grey hair. Instead of crying about aging, she has embraced it, Cintron said.
“I am excited to become an old lady. With age comes wisdom and I don’t want to go back to my younger years. Some women are afraid of being old and I am not,” she said.
“Do you see how 20 year olds act?” she asked. “They have it all wrong,” because she sees the self-hate because they think they are too fat or too thin or something else is wrong with them.
“I want to shake them … are you kidding me? Do you now how long it takes to become beautiful and earn it? I see young girls who hate themselves, older women who hate themselves. I don’t know how to change that. But maybe if I change that in me, they can change it about them,” she said.
She does write about the bipolar disorder, which started after having children and postpartum depression, she said. But the drugs she took for the disorder would often knock her out — not something that worked for a mom with small children.
Since she started writing, she hasn’t gone back on drugs for the disorder.
Cintron also has a day job — she is a clerk at a Walgreen’s makeup counter.
There, she said, she sees a lot of Elgin moms and women — coming in in their yoga pants and sans makeup.
They are beautiful, Cintron said.
Rather than self-publishing, Cintron is being paid for her work — if not much, she said.
“I don’t mind, I would give it away,” and had been through social media.
“But being able to hold it? I can’t imaging what it will feel like.”
Janelle Walker is a freelance reporter.
Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune