Arts & Entertainment Editor
Trigger Warning: You Deserve A Happily Ever After has mentions of sexual assault, anxiety, abuse, depression, and suicide.
We often find refuge in fairytales. Fairytales whisk us away from our problems, assuring us that, for a moment, everything is okay. This fairytale theme carries through fourth-year Mercedes Brookins’ new poetry book, You Deserve A Happily Ever After. Brookins is a Theatre major with a double minor in English and Film Studies. She got the idea for the book in her senior year of high school: “I did a poetry slam [. . .] and one of my English teachers helped me practice for it. I remember talking to her about how a lot of my poems had a fairytale theme and thought it would be cool if I made them into a book.” From then on, the seed for her poetry book had been planted.
You Deserve A Happily Ever After is broken up into three sections: The Tower, The Village, and The Castle. The Tower represents trauma, more specifically how you can feel trapped in your trauma and the hopeless mindset that comes with it. “You Deserve A Happily Ever After” is the first poem in the book:
the curse started long ago
before she had to sword fight dragons
before she got locked away in the tower
before she believed in curses
so she thought the curse was her whole being
but this spell was meant to be broken
because she’s always been magic
before she became a princess
before she casted her own spells
before she believed in herself
see it was always written for her
as it is written for you
After The Tower, the book transitions into The Village. “The Village represents a lot of how people can affect you, especially when people are constantly trying to bring you down. So, it’s also a lot about mental health decreasing, but parts of it also include positivity from people and how that affects you as well,” Brookins said. The Castle ends on a more positive note. This section is all about healing and the process of healing. A lot of it focuses on how Brookins healed and how hard healing really is, but, at the same time, how great it is. She wants to highlight that healing isn’t just one thing, or one step; healing really is a lifelong process.
Brookins’ 122-page book was self-published through Barnes & Noble. She didn’t think it was realistic nor possible until this summer, when she looked up how to self-publish and found Barnes & Noble’s program. The steps you have to take are to choose what format you want (physical or eBook), prepare and upload your manuscript, and then you can publish your book. One of the hardest things about this process for Brookins was having to be her own editor. She said that she had to be really self-critical; she rewrote her manuscript many times and often found herself in editing mode. The way she described ’editing mode’ was constantly feeling like something needed to be edited, even if the poem was ready. In terms of the Barnes & Noble process, the hardest part for her was picking a book size. There were only certain dimensions available, and she ended up getting an app to match the dimensions that were provided.
As for the process, Brookins noted that things to keep in mind if you want to self-publish through Barnes & Noble are that you are responsible for the front and back cover and that you have to “pay” for it. You are responsible for pricing your book so that you can profit off of the sales as well. Brookins kept in mind that a lot of her target audience is college students, so she priced it at $13.99. It’s a long process that Brookins said would have gone smoother if she had her own editor, but, in the end, was totally worth it.
You Deserve A Happily Ever After goes through a journey of self-love, healing, and recovering. Brookins’ collections of poems reminds us that we can and do deserve a happily ever after despite all odds. As the book description says, “this collection of poetry discovers how to break away from trauma through growth and healing despite all odds. Learn how even a mere peasant can become royalty.” Her book is available exclusively through Barnes & Noble.
You can follow Brookins’ poetry on Instagram @poetrybycedes.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Mercedes Brookins.