Castleton student publishes book of poetry

Castleton student Taryn Van Guilder poses with her recently released poetry book, “Hold On,” which encourages people struggling with mental health to stay strong.

Taryn Van Guilder is a junior English major at Castleton University. Her poetry book “Hold On,” which was published in September 2020, can be found on Amazon. She plans to continue writing in the future and is currently working on more poetry and a fiction series.

Q. What made you start writing poetry?

A. I think I was a junior in high school, and around that time I was having a lot of issues. Mainly mental health issues, but also, I was just in a bad friend group and I always felt very alone, and isolated from the rest of them because I was so much different than my friend group. I was too afraid to venture off by myself, so I stuck with it anyway. And what helped me cope with all of that was writing my poetry. And then senior year came around and we had a, what I call an almost tragedy, happen, which just made matters worse for me. So, I really relied on writing and writing poetry to help express my feelings and get them out.

Q. What subjects and topics do you explore in your poetry?

A. I explored a lot of heavy topics in my poetry, a lot to do with mental health. I talk about things such as self harm, suicide, and I talk about some lighter topics as well such as love. There are some, like, love poems in there. So, it’s a good mixture of all of it, but it really reflected what I was going through around that time and then going into college. So a lot of my poems reflect my mind frame at that point.

Q. What made you decide to put your work into a book?

A. It’s always been a dream of mine since I was little to become a published author. When I was born, I had severe scoliosis. And until I was 13, I had to have a surgery every year. Now I have titanium steel rods on either side of my spine. And because of those, I can’t play sports or anything. So, growing up I felt very alone and isolated and writing was what made me feel connected to the world and to myself. So, since I was young, I knew that what I wanted to do is be a writer. I someday wanted to publish my work, I wanted to get it out there. And when all of these poems came to fruition, and they all seemed to have a common theme, something just told me that, “Hey, maybe somebody else could benefit by reading my work.” And I ultimately decided to put it out there to see.

Q. The title of the book is “Hold On.” What’s the meaning behind it?

A. The meaning behind that is, essentially, to hold on. At the time I started writing it, I was really struggling, and it was a message for myself to keep going. It was a message that I just need to hold on a little bit longer, that everything is going to be okay. And I guess in a way, it’s also a message for the people reading it to also hold on, because of the poetry inside of it so dark. It has a lot depictions of mental health and it’s kind of giving the message that things are rough right now, but just hold on a little longer, things are going to be okay in the end.

Q. What are you hoping to achieve with this book?

A. I’m hoping that it’ll help other people to know that they’re not alone. When I went through some of this, I felt like I was the only person that was going through it. And when I discovered other people’s poetry or I reached out to others and they told me “You’re not alone, I feel like this sometimes,” and, you know, opened themselves up to me and made me feel a little bit better, I was like, oh, okay, so there’s other people out there like me. I’m not alone in this and my goal is to help other people so that they know that they’re not alone, and that there are other people like me that have gone through things and that they can trust in other people that experiences are shared.

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