If you’re looking for inspiration, Cleo Wade has it in spades. If you’re looking for life lessons, wisdom, and a few dozen brand-new mantras, she’s got all that, too. The poet — and artist and speaker — has made a name for herself in many arenas but perhaps most presciently on Instagram, where she shares her insights and poetry with her 335,000 followers. (Just for comparison purposes, that’s basically more followers than all of 2017’s best-selling authors combined.)
Her new book Heart Talk, out today, feels like a culmination of everything that Wade’s fans love about her — and, frankly, need from her. The collection encompasses both never-before-seen and newly-written poems as well as some perennial favorites from her ever-inspiring Instagram feed. (For the uninitiated, her mantras feel like they’re written directly to you. “Self love: It costs nothing and you gain everything.” “Be yourself. I love you like that.” “The world comes knocking; answer the door.” You get it.)
Ahead, the enterprising author-and-spiritual-guru-to-thousands fills out EW’s author questionnaire to let us in on her process — and the GIF that’s giving her life right now.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?
CLEO WADE: Valentines, birthday cards, and letters to my parents.
What is the last book that made you cry?
I read mostly poetry. Whenever I read Mary Oliver I usually end up crying.
What is your favorite part of Heart Talk?
I really loved writing the part of the book that I call “Kitchen Table Conversation,” which consists of the kind of practical, loving advice that I would give if my reader and I were sitting in my kitchen together.
Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?
My friend DeRay Mckesson is writing a book that comes out later in the year. I really can’t wait to read that.
Where do you write?
I have a writing room at my apartment in New York City in the East Village. I also have a small table in my bedroom where my little pink typewriter lives and that is where I write most of my love poems.
Which book made you a forever reader?
Pretty much every book by Alice Walker and James Baldwin made me a forever reader.
Pick a GIF that you think, in this moment, best describes you:
What is a snack you couldn’t write without?
I am a salty food fanatic. I usually like to have a chip around while I write.
If you could change one thing about any of your books, what would it be?
Books, like people, are never perfect. I try not to focus on the imperfections…it will drive you crazy.
Write a movie poster tagline for Heart Talk:
This spring, get ready to feel all of your feelings