Orion Carloto on the Heartbreaks and Lessons That Inspired 'Film for Her'
The poet’s new book offers an intimate look at loneliness, love, friendships and more.
Whether with her poems or the snapshots that she takes on her point-and-shoot camera, Orion Carloto has a way of capturing the beauty of life — the good, the bad and the mundane aspects of it. While it may have been a few years since the writer first rose to Internet fame for her self-published poetry, with her newly launched second book, it seems like she has managed to retain that emotionally raw charm her work is known and loved for.
The follow-up to Flux, Film for Her is a collection of short stories, poems and personal photographs that chronicles Orion’s journey as a young woman navigating the world. From her carefree childhood in Georgia to her formative years spent in New York and LA, the book recounts the author’s relationships with her family and friends, while also tossing before the reader shards of romantic memories.
With the book officially on store shelves today, we spoke to Orion about the people, heartbreaks and other lessons that served as inspiration for Film for Her. Read our conversation below.
It has been over a year since our last interview with you. How have you been? What have you been up to during this year of social distancing and uncertainties?
2020 has been a year short of such pleasures, but it’s been interesting to see how I’ve been attempting to make the most out of it all. Enjoying the stillness, keenly studying in subjects that have my interest, rediscovering my soft spot for Malibu, and discovering that I can actually cook!
There’s a sort of romantic aspect when it comes to tactile from the past. I’ve always been drawn to them ever since I was a young teenager and never really grew out of that. Having the ability to immediately snap a photo or open up Spotify on my iPhone is a privilege, but the feeling you get when capturing a supercut in time on film, or placing a vinyl on a turntable is unparalleled.
How did you get into writing poetry?
All it took was my sophomore year literature teacher, a lesson in Romanticism, and Byron’s piece, “She Walks in Beauty.”
A lot of the pages of Film for Her are about love lost. How do you ever heal from a heartbreak?
I’m no expert when it comes to dealing with heartbreak, but I’ve had a few up my sleeve to understand enough. I think the first thing is understanding that there is no “right way.” What comes next, is allowing yourself to feel that pain deeply instead of running away from it. Cry about it until you run completely dry, listen to music that reminds you of that person, visit the places that once used to be so special. Because once you get to a point where you’ve felt it all, there will be no prolonged hurt. Heartbreak is just a reminder in life that there will always be something greater to fill that space later down the road.
No matter in your writing or in your videos, you’ve always been open about discussing your insecurities — there’s a poem on this topic in your new book as well. What is your best advice for overcoming them?
Again, not running away from them. Insecurities have a cunning way of coming in waves — reappearing in your life just when you thought you’ve conquered them all. It’s something that I’ve never been ashamed to discuss, because it’s the rawest form of being human one could ever experience. But throughout all of the years, one thing that has made it considerably bearable is reminding myself that who I decide to show up as a person, a deeply great one, is way more important than how I look. To be kind, warm and empathetic, and the rest will follow.
Friendships make up another main theme of the book. What do your friends mean to you?
The people who I surround myself with have taught me a great deal of life lessons. The most necessary one being valuing those relationships just as much, maybe even more, than the romantic ones. My friends mean a great deal to me. They’ve kept me grounded during my most tumultuous moments, creating a safe space I’ve never found in the arms of anyone else. It’s rare to find yourself in a position where you’ve grown to value people who used to be strangers just as much as you do your own family, and that alone has inspired me and my work beyond measures.
Speaking of friends, there is a mirror selfie of you and Finn Wolfhard in one of the pages. How did you two meet and what’s the story behind that photo?
Haha! We actually met through mutual friends. The photo is nothing more than coming home after a long day at the beach with all of my friends, going to take a mirror selfie of myself, and Finn running in to stand behind me right before I hit the shutter button.
Part of the book was written during your solo trip to Paris late last year. Talk to us about that experience. Was there anything you learned about yourself while traveling alone?
Something I discovered about myself is my relationship with loneliness. There were moments of despair holding hands with pockets of hope. Mornings I spent sipping on my lonely cup of coffee, and nights spent in bed waiting for someone back home to wake up and ask me how I’m doing. Spending that much time with my only company being the reflection in the mirror gave insight to some of my insecurities and parts of my past I had been ignoring for far too long. Though it was wonderful writing material, there came a lesson in looking inward.
You dedicated one of your poems, “Sandra,” to your mother. What influence has she had on your creative career?
My mother has always been such a beacon of hope in my life. Her story growing up and the way she has always encouraged me to follow my wildest dreams is something that has inspired me in ways unimaginable. Loneliness follows me from time to time, making friends with it along the way, but it’s always the thought of my mother’s love that brings me back.
If there was a soundtrack to Film for Her, what are some songs that would be on it?
“House of Woodcock” by Jonny Greenwood, “Rêverie” by Claude Debussy, “Nocturne No.8 ” by Frédéric Chopin, “Aisatsana ” by Aphex Twin, “Treefingers“ by Radiohead, “Only in My Dreams” by The Marias, “I Know It’s Over” by The Smiths, “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” by Smokey Robinson, “Bless The Telephone” by Labi Siffre, “I’d Like To Walk Around In Your Mind” by Vashti Bunyan, and “New Flesh” by Current Joys.