Lyra Wren is a poet and “word-weaver” from Indiana, US. She shares her work on TikTok, where several million people have seen and liked her poetry.
It’s 6 AM when Lyra Wren joins the call from Indiana, US, evident by the creeping sun from a nearby windowsill. Somewhere in the background, there’s a meowing cat. Just for a moment, Lyra stares blankly at the screen. Then, the haze of early morning slips off, and her face lights up.
“Hello,” she says sweetly, tugging at one of two dark, braids. “Sorry if I seem tired, it’s really early.”
There is a lightness to her air, a sort of contagious happiness. Lyra feels like a friend, like we’ve all escaped the anxious bustle of everyday life, swapping it out for a nostalgic girl chat in her bedroom. She feels like a term coined by Gen-Z, a "girl's girl."
Her smile stretches from one side of her face to the other as she introduces herself, explaining that she’s a “TikTok poet.”
“Or basically, I share my poetry on TikTok,” she corrects herself.
“I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, on little scraps of paper or in my notes app. Then, I saw @painonpapier, or Reva, publish one of her pieces on the app and thought it would be cool to share my own poetry.”
Lyra explains that she never had any intentions of gaining a huge following, but rather wanted to use the platform as a therapeutic of feeling less alone in her feelings, almost like shouting into the void. Somewhere along the way, however, her shouting reached people.
“I posted a poem about platonic soulmates one evening, then I went to bed. The morning after, I woke up with a couple of thousand new followers and a bunch of really sweet comments. I think that was the moment I realized that people actually feel connected to my writing, which was a heartwarming feeling,” says the poet.
The article continues under poem
to my platonic soulmate;
some people believe soulmates don't exist
but i know that's not true.
we were not meant to be lovers
but in all the friends i've had,
nobody fits me quite as well as you.
there were no tugs of our heartstrings,
or sparks in our chests,
but instead this feeling like i knew
who you were and what we were
even though we had never met.
the universe knew what to do,
when they placed you in my life.
because we weren't meant to be lovers,
we were just meant to be.
Girlhood, Pinterest, and TikTok poetry
Though Lyra’s writing stretches across many different themes, the overarching topic is girlhood, the experience of growing up as a girl, and becoming a woman.
“It’s about the struggles we go through, that period between girlhood and womanhood, and the expectations and change that society inflicts on you,” she says.
She also writes about mental health, parental figures, and people in her life. Drawing inspirations from real-life experiences, encounters and observations allows her to breathe life into connections between people, whether they’re good or bad.
“Relationships are complicated, emotions are complex. It can be hard to tell people how you feel about them, whether it’s how much they mean to you, or even how they’ve hurt you. Writing can help with that, even if you don’t share it,” she says. “To me, writing and sharing all these poems with the people I write them about is heartwarming. I write a lot about my mom and sisters, it’s all very positive. I love them.”
When inspiration falters, Lyra likes to find inspiration in her surroundings. If nothing springs to mind, she slides her shoes on, grabs a coat, and goes for a walk. If she’s really stuck in a rut, however, she turns to journaling, music, other writers, and of course, Pinterest.
“I love Pinterest,” she laughs. “I’ll go on there and see a piece of art, a photo, or a poem, and it ignites some phrase that I further develop.”
She adds that she often lets herself inspire by other TikTok writers, explaining that she likes the way their poetry offers differs from poetry in an academic or traditional setting.
“I think people on TikTok write in a very raw way that brings out emotions in me, which inspires me to express my feelings about those same things.”
“A lot of my own pieces similarly start with me just word-vomiting on a page, putting down every single thing I’ve ever felt about that topic– it doesn’t have to make sense or be good. Then, I kind of handpick pieces and phrases. It’s almost like Tetris, I just piece it all together until it fits and is fluent. The hardest part is just to start, I guess.”
Erato Magazine always asks their interviewees how they know a piece is complete. When Lyra is asked this, colour rushes to her cheeks and she begins to laugh.
“Oh god, this is going to sound so cringey,” she says, scrunching her nose slightly. “Okay, it’s very cliché, but I know it’s done when I get that feeling. Everything snaps into place, and I’m like “That’s it. That’s what I wanted to say.” My chest feels warm, it just feels right,” she says, before adding. “I can also usually tell when a poem is going to do well, but it’s all just my gut talking, really.”
On Lost Girls, being a closeted poet, and writing badly
Since starting her TikTok account, Lyra’s journey as a writer has slowly developed in directions she never could’ve anticipated. Though she intends on continuing to share her work on TikTok for as long as possible, the poet is also interested in dipping her toes in the unfamiliar waters of traditional publishing. In fact, she’s already halfway there.
“The collection is called Lost Girls and is about girlhood, grief, and growing up,” she says, beaming with pride. “Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to write a book, and now it’s happening. I almost can't believe I get to possibly see my book in bookstores, it’s crazy!”
Despite her mass-following online, she’s still a little nervous about coming out as a writer, explaining that most people in her life don’t actually know she writes poetry.
“I don’t mind what a random stranger thinks of my poems, but it can be very intimidating to share it with people who truly know me. There’s always been an anxiety that someone I know will stumble across my work and get an in-depth look at me. It’s scary, but it’s worth it," she says.
At this point in the conversation, the sun has begun to rise. It casts across her face and paints her golden. She looks almost completely at peace when asked to share her best advice with new poets.
“Don’t be afraid to write “badly,”” she smiles, her voice warm. “I think lots of people want to write, but don’t know where or how to start. Sometimes, you just need to write something imperfect, and you’ll eventually find something that resonates with you.”
She also adds that it’s important to keep up with it, pressing that despite the cliché, practising truly does make perfect.
“You don’t have to share it with anyone if you don’t want to, but just don’t give up. I improved by writing a poem a day, and honestly, I’m still practising and getting better. Oh, and write about things you care about.”
Evidently, writing about what she loves has worked for her. Lyra’s favourite poems are Sisters and Citrus, The Universal Language of Women, Curiosity at First Sight, and Like Other Girls, all of which have done well.
“It’s all so cute. People tag their loved ones and comment such sweet things, I’ve also had sisters reach out and tell me they got tattoos based on my poem. It’s beautiful to see the connections my words are igniting, that I can give that feeling to others,” she says.
What started as a shout into the void, an attempt to feel less lonely in her feelings, has become a community of affirmations. In turn for her words, Lyra becomes a little less lonely, one poem at a time.
As the interview concludes, the sun flickers across her face a final time. The cat meows, and that rattling sound of Google Meet reminds me that we are not all girls, talking about girlhood in each other’s bedrooms on a weekend. TikTok opens again, and my thumb searches for girlhood in Lyra Wren’s feed.