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An Interview with A. Drzal, author of Broken Strings & Words Adrift

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A. Drzal writes raw, honest poetry that carries the themes that have defined his own life: addiction, recovery, love, intimacy, trauma, healing, gratitude, and hope. When he’s not writing, he’s working as a public school teacher or playing music with his band. He lives in New York City with his fiancé and is currently working on his second poetry collection.

You can buy Broken Strings & Words Adrift here!

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Since I was a child, art has always been an essential part of who I am and has always served two incredibly important purposes for me. It helps me process what I’m feeling and helps me express the results of that processing. Music was actually my first love as a kid. I was obsessed with how certain notes played on certain instruments could move me so deeply. And I couldn’t believe the power of lyrics and how emotional they could make me. I had songs on my iPod for every feeling I could possibly have. This was hugely influential. My second love was fiction. I loved reading it and I loved writing it. When I got older, I began writing my own songs and my own lyrics and then soon began writing poems. Since then, poetry has changed everything for me. It’s changed how I view the world and view myself and my loved ones. I hope I never stop writing.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I am a public school teacher! That is my day job. I work at a transfer high school in Queens and absolutely love it. It can be incredibly emotional at times but I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. The children I teach are amazing.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

Be honest. Be vulnerable. It’s incredibly difficult but it changes everything. It’s the most freeing thing you could ever do. Tell people when life gets hard. Get help if you need it (everybody needs it). And remember, there is always hope to hold onto. I have been in places so incredibly dark you wouldn’t believe and I have been close to death numerous times. All it took was the smallest little seed of hope…the possibility of change. Grab it and hold onto it tightly. The light will come.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

There are so many things that have happened since my book’s release that feel rewarding and meaningful and fill me with an abundance of gratitude. Allow me to share two. The first is that a therapist who works at an inpatient rehab facility (similar to the ones I was in while in active drug and alcohol addiction) has been reading excerpts of my book to her patients. She said that people have cried while listening because they said they have finally felt seen. They have finally felt like someone understands what they’ve been going through. This is unbelievable to me and to know that I could be a part of helping them work through such a profoundly difficult time means so much to me. The second is that multiple people have told me that they are going to use words from one of my love poems in their wedding vows. I can’t even put into words what an honor that is.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

I am working on a second poetry collection! I am very close to finishing it and I cannot wait to share it with the world. I have been releasing some snippets on TikTok @adrzal__ and on Substack, so feel free to follow the journey!

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.