The poet Ruby Dhal
Ruby Dhal's latest collection will be released on September 9. Ruby Dhal

In Ruby Dhal’s upcoming poetry collection “A Handful of Stars,” she delves into the meaning of true love and what it is like to deal with the loss of the same. Since she began sharing her poetry and prose on her Instagram account in 2016, Dhal has cultivated an audience that connects deeply with her work. Her account now has over 145,000 followers, a community she proudly refers to as her “social media family.”

“A Handful of Stars” is Dhal’s second poetry collection after last year’s “Memories Unbound.” Healing, inner strength and the power of womanhood are all major themes of her new poems, which are set to be released on September 7. We had the chance to chat with the U.K.-based Dhal about her new book, the power of social media and why she is embracing the term ‘Instagram poet.’

The Teal Mango: You write on your website that you’ve been writing for as long as you remember. What kinds of stories do you remember being drawn to growing up?

RD: Growing up I was drawn to stories that were as further away from my reality as possible. I mostly read stories that lived in worlds that were completely different to mine because I looked at books as a form of escapism from my own experiences. I loved ‘Rainbow Magic’ by Daisy Meadows because fairies solved all the problems in their fairy-world, what could go wrong? I absolutely adored Karen McCombie’s series of ‘Ally’s World’ and any book by Cathy Cassidy was my go to! And then I moved onto Jacqueline Wilson’s ‘Bad Girls’, and finally, ‘The Princes Diaries’ – you cannot go wrong with this one!

The Teal Mango: Social media (particularly Instagram) has been key in how you’ve built a relationship with your audience and you’ve said that you think of your followers as a family. Can you talk a bit about how you connect with readers through Instagram?

RD: I speak with my readers every day! I reply to their comments and read all their direct messages. In the past, I used to reply to as many direct messages as I could. However, it filled up my inbox quite quickly so I decided to keep my email open instead. It’s easier to manage my incoming emails and I’m able to reply to more messages this way. Often, I receive emails in regards to problems my readers are facing and I try to help them as best as I can. We communicate all the time and I’ve managed to become good friends with quite a lot of people who started off as reading my poetry but ended up connecting with me on a deeper level.

The Teal Mango: How do you feel about the phrase “Instagram poet”? You have written in several genres, but that phrase is often attached to you.

RD: I don’t see it in the kind of negative light most people attempt to use it in. I proudly tell people that I am an Instagram poet. I view Instagram poets as vital catalysts in transforming poetry into what it is today. Into poetry which is raw but smooth and applicable to so many people. Instagram poets are unique because they appeal to the masses. And the masses are young people, teenagers, adults and so many around the world who feel things but don’t understand flowery language used in most poems they grow up reading, and are unable to relate to them. Instagram poets summarize their feelings in a simple but relevant manner and that is why Instagram poets such as Rupi Kaur are doing so well! Instagram poets write things that not only most people feel but they can understand too when they read them. That is why every single post of mine has the comment ‘Thank you for summarizing my feelings’ below. I’m proud to be an Instagram poet.

The Teal Mango: Many of your poems in this new collection are about healing and learning to adapt and move on after heartbreak and loss. What is it like when you hear from your readers and social media followers that say your work has helped them through tough times?

RD: It feels so, so incredible! It’s wonderful to know that there are people out there who not only value my art but take lessons from it. Because I feel that we are all able to teach each other something and in knowing that I have managed to pass a small lesson to someone, I feel like I’ve served my goal as a person. I believe that every single person in this world has a purpose and all you need to do is find that purpose and strive towards. My readers give me that purpose because, in helping them I am helping myself, and as a result we are healing together.

A Handful of Stars by Ruby Dhal
Monarch Publishing

The Teal Mango: Finally, are there any future projects you are working on that you’d like to tell our readers about?

RD: I am working on so many things right now which I am super excited about! Let’s just say I am ‘holding too many strings’! I am working on a short story collection which I endeavour to complete by December and publish by summer 2019. I’m also working on my third book of poetry and prose. Although, this book will primarily consist of my longer pieces, so I guess it is a ‘book of prose’ only. Finally, I am working on my long-standing, ever-cherished DREAM NOVEL which I hope I complete by this year and find a publisher to release very soon. Fingers crossed, I have so many wonderful things planned for my readers and I hope they all work out!

You can pre-order your copy of ‘A Handful of Stars’ here.

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