Coffee, A Sip of You and Me with Rachel Harty.
Written by Samantha Skelton
Sometimes our best work is born from the hardest times in our life, and after Rachel Harty suffered from a sports-related injury in college, the inklings of what would become her book Coffee, A Sip of You and Me, came to life. Although whispers of being a writer popped in and out of Rachel’s life growing up, it wasn’t until after she chose a more practical route as a young adult that she felt free enough to return to her calling as a poet. In her book Coffee, A Sip of You and Me, Rachel examines the ups and downs of life through prose and poetry, explored through the lens of the most important part of the day: a cup of coffee. Where did you grow up? I grew up in a small, rural town in central Florida, about twenty minutes from the beach. Growing up there afforded me visuals, imagery, and scenery, which piqued my interest in writing. When I was little, I would write poems for my grandpa. I didn’t know what type of writing I had embarked on (poetry), but that’s where my love for writing came in. Was writing something that was present in your family? My mom was a journalism major, so she always had books in the house. Specifically, Shell Silverstein who I love. Outside of writing, I started to focus on other things in school. I did dance, art, and creative writing courses but I also played volleyball. I later became a Division 1 athlete and I really enjoyed my time playing all four seasons. What did you study in college? I studied Trust and Wealth Management which was a more practical route. Poetry for me was always a hobby until it wasn’t. Late into my junior year of college is when I picked poetry back up and I’ve been writing ever since. How did having stability in your career make space for creatively in your life? Mental freedom comes in the form of writing for me. I get less creativity when I’m in the world of practicality. But I also know that with practicality comes monetary freedom and without that, I wouldn’t have the liberty to fund my book – from brand all the way to production.
What was your impetus for writing your latest book, Coffee, A Sip of You and Me? The book is a combination of prose and poetry, and it came to fruition during a low time in my life. During my junior year, I was unfortunately struck with two injuries back-to-back. In sports that’s quite isolating. That was the first time I experienced any form of depression. What I did learn though: when you’re trying to find the zest in your life, you return to simple things that brought you joy. I had this poetic journal. One day when I was my most hermit self, my teammate knocked on my door and read me this quote, “the cream always rises to the top.” She knew I was a coffee aficionado and from there, my idea for this book was born. What are some of the themes in your book? I want people to encounter my feelings. I’m writing for relatability in terms of heartache, love, etc. For example, the chapter, Coffee Stories is about growing up in terms of relationships and family. Temperature Swing is all about coming-of-age themes and your angsty teen self. Burnt Beans is about when you’re coming into a saddened period and you’re trying to get out of it. What’s your favorite poem that you wrote in this book? It’s called Depressed and it was the first one I ever wrote. It’s basically when I took a backseat on this ride called Life. Although it was painful to write, that poem, was what got me out of bed in the morning, and from there many more were created. I felt compelled to finish articulating how I felt, to finish the book. What’s something that surprised you during the writing process? Not getting exhausted with writing about one extremely specific subject: coffee. I felt like it was a challenge every day to play with words, without losing steam. What do you want people to feel when they read your book? Coffee is more than a drink in the same way that your emotions are more than you’re currently feeling, they’re so complex. Everything in my opinion is a visual, a scent, a memory. What’re you working on now? I’m working on a book of poetry that centers around a twenty-something in New York. This one will be fully poetic and with less prose. Where can people read more about you and get Coffee, A Sip of You and Me? www.rachelharty.com