E.D. Small, a rising poet hailing from DeLand, (Central) Florida, is the author of the award-winning poetry collection Melting Faces in a Cracked Mirror.
This collection of layered rhythmic poems, ballads, and prose is based on real and imaginary characters and the struggles we all faced during the racial and economic turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Melting Faces, he explains, “mirror-images the pandemonium that took place during the COVID-mask-wearing situation. Our faces were practically melting inside of our disposable masks. ‘Cracked Mirror’ is my way of saying, that the world around us is bit by bit fracturing and falling apart. This book is my life in poetry form.”
Small gravitated toward poetry at an early age because it allowed him to escape the harsh realities of the real world and create new worlds to lose himself.
Triggered by the death of his two brothers (who were murdered in street violence), and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Small published Melting Faces which received the Readers’ Favorite International Book Award for Poetry in 2022.
“In this world of poetry, I sit in a paper throne, wearing a crown plumed with fire,” he expressed.
For his debut collection, Small unsubscribed to the traditional writing methods and routines, having written most of his poetry over an extended period of time, on “the rock-stiff bed” of his semi-trailer truck.
“When I published my book, I did not realize how much the dynamics of poetry had changed. My confidence level flopped, and I couldn’t help but rewrite every last one of my poems.
My only goal is to create the best quality of work possible. After every page completion, I revisit that page days after. I then trim the fat, edit, and make corrections until I am satisfied.”
The experience and success of his first collection prepared him to pick up the pen again and adopt some tried-and-true methods from his peers including poet/editor Bianca Bower, and author Jerry Jenkins.
“I am still learning on the job, so I have yet to master the fundamentals of putting a book together. My first book Melting Faces was a knock on the door. My upcoming book is more like me putting my feet on the coffee table. I am guaranteeing a classic!” he proclaims.
Before every writing session, Small likes to set the mood by listening to classic 70s, 80s, or 90s R&B. He washes down his white cheddar cheese-it with sugar-free vanilla iced coffee and settles into his uncluttered workspace dressed in comfortable clothing and soft house slippers.
He finds inspiration through the spoken and written words of “bluesologist” Gil Scott-Heron and the phenomenal woman herself, Dr. Maya Angelou. As a proud family man, he finds himself the most productive during the quiet hours of the early morning, before turning his attention to his wife and three children.
Small embraces writer’s block as a welcomed pause in his writing journey. He puts down the pen, turns up the music, and settles into the vibes until he eventually uncovers the motivation to begin writing again. “I’ve learned that anything I can mark down during this suffering is a bonus,” he noted.
His upcoming memoir in verse, To Gather Us to Pieces will be released in January 2024 and centers on poverty, love, self-identity, grief, hope, self-improvement, and ambition.
He was inspired to write this memoir in verse by the National Book Award Winning poet Elizabeth Acevedo and her New York Times Bestseller, The Poet X. “It gave me the confidence to pursue something bigger and better than another poetry collection,” says Small.
He was admittedly inspired by his own success having once been a snotty-nosed project kid from Oakland Terrace who is now an award-winning poet and author in his own right.
Based on his experience, he advises new Indie authors to invest in themselves and the products they put out for the world to consume.
“Spend as much money as needed to produce the best quality book. No one should be able to see the difference between our books and those of a traditional author.
Invest in a high-quality book cover, purchase a bundle of ISBNs, find an editor with experience, and look for an illustrator who can bring your vision to fruition. After you have made this book as perfect as possible, promote your book on every social media outlet,” he says.
If money is an issue, he strongly suggests indie authors use platforms such as fiverr.com to locate freelancers who can fulfill their every need at a decent cost.
In 2021, Small was featured in Black Poets Matter: An Anthology of Poetry Penned by Black Poets and received a journalist credit for writing a three-part article with The West Volusia Beacon Newspaper.
The series entitled “West Volusia Memories” comprised a trio of articles covering his “rough-hewn” start in life leading up to authorship.” While they originally slated it to be a single article, it gained the interest of the DeLand locals, and he was asked to extend the series.
In addition to his written work, Small was recruited to recite a spoken word piece in an upcoming song and music video for the rising Tampa-based artist Polrberjones.
His award-winning debut Melting Faces in a Cracked Mirror has been added to the DeLand Public Library in DeLand, FL, and both the Deltona Regional Library and Hope Regional Library in Deltona, FL in January 2023.
In his last words to our readers, Small offers this:
“Word of mouth comes bittersweet; so pick and choose ripe words to eat.”