My first meeting with Lisa Harris was less of a formal introduction and more of a collision, our opening salvo a mutual how-do-you-do a duet of “You look fantastic!”
We were backstage, behind a screen in a makeshift dressing room, in the midst of the Spring Fever frenzy that accompanies the KOKOON season launch. We spotted each other wearing the same hotly sought dress.
In a similar situation, a lot of women would get uppity about another gal zeroing in on her prized “back off its mine” find. Lisa saw it as an opportunity celebrate our multifarious differences, how we could each be beautifully unique, and we decided we should both rock the frock. Lisa looks at life that way. She’s genuine, and genuinely excited to see women clothed in their individual light. She’s a poet with a purpose.
A year later we reunited over decadent with-everything mochas and I interviewed her about her upcoming book where fashion meets poetry, Unveiled Beauty.
You’ve reunited with a decades-deep love for writing that was set aside while you pursued a Corporate America career. What made you say “Hmm … maybe I’ll publish a poetry book.”?
“As I edged into my 40s and began assessing my life, I realized that you don’t always see women lavishing words of beauty on each other. I marinated on that for a really long time, wanting my poetry book to be different, not shoved on the back on a dusty shelf. Unveiled Beauty partners poetry with fashion photography, as a way to showcase that women can cultivate their exterior beauty and still come to the table with depth and soul. We are multi-layered and complex; we don’t have to be one or the other.”
Who are the folks who’ve helped you along the way?
“That’s simple … the women in my life. I am showcasing my sisters and girlfriends, because instinctually we support each other. These are real emotions. I want real women to model. That was my epiphany. That was the moment. The photographs are an extension of the poetry. I want readers to take in the words, and look at the photography as part of the story and wonder. I gathered these women and realized they all are multi-ethnic, multi-shape, multi-size. This is the face of America. This is the woman I want to reach.”
How do you keep your motivation in motion?
“Women are my muse and writing is my insecurity. When I first shared a poem with my girlfriend … over a year ago … I was shaking. It is my insecurity, but writing also has been a best friend, always there and always healing. I’m realizing the more I work through this project, that this is what I’m meant to do. I wrote hundreds of poems when I was a kid. That’s who I was when I was 15. When I look back at my all poems now and then, I’m the same girl.”
You’ve got gumption! Where do you go from here?
“The more I write, the more I realize my goal is – through poetry – for each woman to feel beautiful. To know that in her darkest moments, when she is completely broken and fearing she can’t get up, that she is not alone. Whether she’s eaten too much cake, or a more serious situation like abuse, or the heartbreak of not bringing yourself to the table, I want all of us to feel beautiful.”
One more thing …
Do you have a favorite line of poetry you keep in your brain, or your pocket, like a talisman?
“No, but I do have a favorite quote, from Elizabeth Gilbert. ‘Never forget that once upon a time, in an unguarded moment, you recognized yourself as a friend.'”