Books·How I Wrote It

How confronting body image issues inspired Mallory Tater's debut poetry collection

The poet talks about the personal experiences that inspired This Will Be Good.
This Will Be Good is Mallory Tater's first poetry collection. (Allie Kenney/BookThug)

Being a teenage girl can be tough. Mallory Tater taps into this reality — as well as her experience with an eating disorder — for her debut poetry collection. This Will Be Good delves into the coming-of-age experience through the eyes of a girl navigating relationships, outside pressures and body image issues.

In her own words, Tater discusses how she wrote This Will Be Good

Opening up a dialogue

"I have a heavy sense of nostalgia, so I write from that. I also write from a place of outrage or discomfort in gender normativity. I wanted to subvert those themes in my book slowly, as the speaker grows up and starts to learn the expectations placed on her as a young girl.

"I wanted to write a book to talk about body dysmorphia, body discomfort and to express how I personally went through that and how I healed. I wanted to document my personal journey as a healing process for myself. Then I realized that maybe I'm not alone in my experiences. Girls feel like they have to be docile. They feel like they need to shrink in social spaces. I felt that as a kid a lot of the time. So I wrote it for myself, but then I realized that other people can connect to that, especially women or women-identifying readers. It's a sad book, but I think the title has this hint that there is hope at the end."

Writing away the hesitation

"I'd been thinking about these themes for a very long time and what they meant for me growing up. A lot of the poems slipped out organically. I could write two or three poems in a day and then go back to revise. The middle section — called The Losing, which talks specifically about anorexia and bulimia — came out of me organically, as if I had been meaning to write about it for a long time.

"I was nervous to share that part of me because my experience with an eating disorder felt like a secret that I'd kept for so long. I was nervous about the reception from people who knew me then and didn't quite understand what was going on in my head space or to my body. Writing that truth down came with some hesitation but in the end, I'm pleased that I got the courage to write about something that I wanted to have a dialogue about with myself and through poetry."

Finding comfort in prose

"Poetry has become something so integral to my well-being and how I see the world. It's connected me with people and amazing writers, especially in the Vancouver literary community. Poetry has provided me with healing and friendship. And it's one of the most beautiful forms of writing that we can consume.

"I feel unsettled if I'm not writing. It's almost as if some people don't feel good about themselves if they haven't exercised or taken enough vitamins. I feel a bodily discomfort if I'm not creating something for myself. I find it to be energizing and cathartic. I love the trance that I get to go into when I'm writing. It's very peaceful. I kind of crave that."

Mallory Tater's comments have been edited and condensed.