Poetry fame for Chloe Frayne

Systrom and Krieger aren’t known for their poetry like Burns, Wilde, Wordsworth, Tennyson and the Bard of Avon himself, Shakespeare, but they’ve done a lot to bring this ancient form of conversing back to life.

They launched Instagram in 2010, and it is how a one of our emerging poets Chloe Frayne has amazingly gained international fame for her brilliant collection of sensitive passages of life and moments of inspiration.

As a poet, she is huge in India and the United States of America, but relatively unknown in Australia. And Chloe lives right in our backyard, in Willunga.

Chloe, 26, is a part of a poetry revival sensation, changing from traditional rhymes to often deep and meaningful messages about real life, and much of it has happened using Instagram as a vehicle. Her second book is due to be released in the US in January, and after another whirlwind tour plans to return home and mid-next year and write a third.

Not bad for a girl who dropped out of high school mid-year and didn’t complete Year 12. This success trail has been driven purely by her passion for words, and it has been in her ever since she was a little girl writing imaginary stories with her fingers on anything she could reach.

Chloe believes that among the one or two generations before her there weren’t many young poets simply because it was unfashionable.

“It has all changed since there was a big surge on Instagram a few years ago,” Chloe said. “Since then a lot of my friends have written poetry. My best friend Alison (Malee), who is from New York and now living in New Jersey, is one of them and she is younger than me. It is in a sense a rebirth of poetry.

“Other great friends including Bridgett Devoue and Leya Noir are also brilliant at this and like Alison have a huge following. “People are now doing poetry in a more free-style of writing; it is very prose orientated rather than rhyming or having specific structure.

“I write about different things but mostly it’s about people. I have very intense connections with everybody in my life. I am very focused on energy and I pick it up really easily – it makes me really sensitive and if I bring in too many people I feel really belonged. I like writing about the people closest to me.

“I have always been a really intense person. I started out writing three books, but I did not pursue them because they weren’t very good. That’s not being critical; I was just not good at it, but I was learning.

“Eventually I channelled that energy into a little poetry niche, and it has worked out really well for me. I just decided to write poetry because a few years ago I would always be writing little quotes… I realised if I could construct them well they could be poetry. Within a year I had a book out (July 4, 2016): Letters and why they’re all for you.

“I think all happened to me because I was really consistent with my posting on Instagram. I worked really hard at what I was doing; posting twice a day every single day for a full year and I built followers very carefully.

“The thing about social media is that it can take just one post and it takes off. If enough people see it you can pull in a thousand followers in a day. It can boost you very quickly provided you maintain that.”

When Chloe released her book she had 1000 followers on Instagram. Now she reaches 72,000 people, and the list grows daily. There is also a store in the mid-western state of Ohio, US that sold out of her book; they cannot get enough of her work.

However, as much as this social world has created huge pathways for Chloe, introducing her to the world stage, remarkably she still lives in the past when it comes to actually presenting her work. She does it all on good old-fashioned typewriters, and then copies her work before posting online.

She boasts having seven typewriters including a classic 1920 Underwood 4. It’s heavy and fragile, and Chloe only uses it for special occasions in fear of it cracking and breaking into pieces. The other typewriters range from 1980.

“I am very much into typewriters; I love buying them,” Chloe said. “Every post that I have is a little bit different. It has a kid of photographic element with the typewriting. The typewriters give them that special edge; my signature.

“When people ask how I became a writer I say I was always just waiting to do it. I have always loved writing letters to people, and even as a little kid I wrote to my friends. I am a wordy person in my emotions with people.

“I still write people letters. I have a quill, an ink pot and I write letters on quality paper. I am dedicated in doing this; it’s like a deeper personal element of me. Any person can send a text, but it is so impersonal now.

“There are no emotions in the messages any more, but if you sit down and actually write someone a nice letter they are always excited to receive it; people just forget it is a good thing to do.”

Chloe’s brilliant work largely reflects her close connections with people, especially those who surround her life.

“I somehow became this weird sensitive gentle little thing, and I am just obsessed with loving people.” she said. “When I was in high school a career counsellor asked me what I wanted to do in life and I said I wanted to find new ways to love people.

“I think I have found that with new ways to connect to a really wide audience through poetry, and to find people who stick with me, grow with me and make me feel happy.

“I am a genuinely sensitive person. I guess all poets are.

“But like a like a lot of dreams we chase there were times when I felt people doubted me, and I doubted myself. It happens in any journey that is seen as different to what people expect.

“If you were to grow up, get married and have kids that’s a beautiful dream, but that’s what people kind of expect you to do and they won’t doubt you. But if you do anything that strays outside of what they expect they are always going to doubt you and they say, no, you can’t do that.”

Chloe has worked part-time as a bartender to help allow her to travel and make her poetry trail become real, and certainly remembers questioning her own self-belief.

“It was hard for me getting to a point where I said to myself, yes, writing poetry is going to be okay,” Chloe said.

“In the beginning it was easier because there were fewer people paying attention to what I was doing. The further I went the more people knew, and then there was this step back where 10 people may say something good about my work and one person something bad. It becomes a balance thing.

“I have learned not to mind what some people say as much. The important thing is that I am happy with what I have written. I know I work hard doing what I do; always. I am critical of myself, which is good because I like to think it keeps my standard high.”

Chloe’s second book Into Oblivion comes out on December 14. She plans to spend three months in the US doing a book tour and staying with friends in New York, and coming back home to Willunga to regroup for a few months before writing her third book.

“I am really excited,” Chloe said. “It is a big time of change in my life. I have been to four counties in Africa and 10 states over two trips to the US in the last three years, and I love meeting those who have said they are my fans.

“Whenever a fan writes me a letter I make an effort to meet them and connect with them in a different sense. In the back of my book it says ‘write back’ and I put my address.” Of course, she tries to write back. It is what she does; write, and quill in hand she loves every moment.