Today we’d like to introduce you to Leilah Ali.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been more myth than woman. If I were to map out a timeline of my life, it would not be separated in years or major events, but by the genre of literature, that consumed me.
It began with horror. I read books exclusively on the supernatural during elementary school. This slowly evolved into a brief romance with historical fiction, which led to dance with the classics, transforming into a fascination with fantasy, so on and so forth. I gravitate towards adventures with intricate magic and lost cities, tales of forgotten wonders and misunderstood monsters, and stories with unanswerable questions. This has been the underlying constant of my existence. I love books and words very much. I am, and always have been, a storyteller.
Poetry was a late edition. I studied it in school and didn’t enjoy it very much. It’s ironic to look back on now but, I didn’t understand it in the slightest! It wasn’t until college that I really began to put an effort.
I fell in love during that time–briefly, wonderfully, tragically–and he adored poetry. So, when he asked if I wrote any, I (of course) responded “yes!” in an attempt to impress him. For Christmas, he purchased me a typewriter, and the rest is history. The relationship didn’t last, but a newfound love for poetry did, and the typewriter I currently use is the very same typewriter that was gifted to me.
Growing up, I was a bit of an oddity. I think most people can relate, but for me, it took a toll. It had always been difficult to speak my mind. I felt judged for being too passionate, too thoughtful, too offbeat–it goes on and on. It got to the point where I was afraid to express myself entirely and felt inauthentic in my day to day life–a dreamer who didn’t think she was allowed to dream.
Posting a poem on Instagram was the first step of me believing that I was worth being known and seen for the nuanced and lovely human that I am. Now, I can’t imagine ever making myself small out of fear.
For me, the popularity was a happy byproduct of putting myself out there. I really just wanted to get past the fear of showing people my art and would’ve been satisfied with even one person relating to it. Now I have 30,000! I’ve been able to touch many, and that has meant the world.
Two years ago, I self-published a book called “hush now, love.” which is an ode to losing love and coming to terms with my identity. Writing the collection was cathartic, and since then I have grown tremendously both as a writer and as a person. I look forward to writing the next!
Has it been a smooth road?
I wouldn’t say the road has been smooth, but the challenges have made me stronger. Poetry is an intimate field where you put yourself out there every day. My greatest enemy will always be myself, and so, the struggle came with figuring out who I am, and deciding whether that person was worth putting out there. The answer is, yes, of course. I’m well aware of who I am, and she’s pretty great! All of the limitations I saw were actually self-imposed.
The difficulty behind Instagram lies in its algorithm. To be truly successful, an artist must post every day, sometimes twice a day, be constantly active. The algorithm rewards those who participate. And although I am grateful that there is a forum where artists can share their words and stories, I am always cognizant that this system isn’t the best for producing art. Quality should always be strived for over quantity. I’ve found a tentative balance between the two, and this has helped tremendously.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
My poetry is unique in that, I write for the lost creatures. I write for the quiet kid sitting in the corner at a party, and also the loud, bubble-gum smacking woman dancing on a table. I write for the muses and imperfect emotions that can’t be wrapped up nicely in a metaphor. I write for people who ache and ache, without knowing why. I write for you, and I write for me.
On my Instagram, I specialize in micro-poems. I take feelings, instances, and events and summarize them in four sentences or less. The longer pieces I save for books, captions, and slam poetry sessions.
I’m known for having a little bite in my work. I appreciate the majority of poets who decorate their poems in loveliness, wreathing their prose in flowers and sunshine, but my work will always have a bit of a kick to it. Whiskey versus tea, if you will. I understand that the world is neither black nor white, but gray. And I like to play in the gray.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Without a doubt, Los Angeles gives ample inspiration for writing. In general, cities are fantastic places to be when looking for a muse. Every day is different in tone, in attitude, in the people you see. But it also really depends on how you are as a person. If you don’t like being overly stimulated, then Los Angeles is not the place for you. But if you’re like me, and you enjoy feeling extremely present and on your toes all the time, then Los Angeles is perfect. What LA does lack, is writing sanctuaries–places where writers can meet up and read their work to one another. There are a few lounges, but because of the scarcity, they’re overpacked, and intimacy is lost through the havoc of just trying to be heard.
- My book “hush now, love.” is 12.50 on Amazon
- Framed poems are 19.50 and are available through email and Instagram DM’s
- Website: https://www.amazon.com/hush-now-love-leilah-ali-ebook/dp/B07B9ZSFYQ
- Email: email@example.com
The B&W photo and the photo with the orange jacket was taken by my sister, Dina Ali (@ali_dinaaa)