Shelton native Ryan Meyer is releasing his second book of poetry, but the young writer admits that poetry wasn't something he always had an interest in, though he did know he wanted to be a writer. "I started writing in high school but I really started getting into poetry in college, when I took a creative writing course that was a hybrid between fiction and poetry, and the poetry part was a lot more than I expected," he said. "That's where I discovered my favorite poets and my favorite poems, and my interest just branched out from there." His favorite poet is John Ashbery, considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century and writer of the 1975 notable poetry collection, "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." "It's a 20-30-page long poem about distorted self-perception and an exploration of the self," Meyer said. "I thought it was so profound, and something I thought I would never connect with in the form of poetry as much as I did." Meyer started spending a lot of his time seeking out poetry he enjoyed, and gravitated towards people like Frank O'Hara and spoken word poets like Andrea Gibson. "I just recently pre-ordered Amanda Gorman's book after seeing her read her poem at the inauguration." Meyer said. The Shelton High School alum graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2016, and since that time, his work has been featured in Freshwater Poetry Magazine, Beechwood Review, Folio Literary Magazine and Moon Tide Press' Dark Ink Anthology. "I was able to take a lot of poetry courses and get involved more during school, and I took an independent course which afforded me the chance to develop my own interests into poetry, without feeling it had to be a certain way," he said. In 2018, Meyer had a critical darling with his first book of poetry, a collection of horror themes that he entitled, "Haunt." "A lot of my teachers didn't really encourage genre writing; they wanted us to write more literary pieces, but I had one that encouraged me to dive into this and felt that it could have even been scarier," he said. "Horror was always something I have loved. I used to watch scary movies with my grandma as a kid, and she raised me on the old black and white monster movies like Dracula and Frankenstein. She still talks to me about that kind of stuff." On March 1, he'll release "Tempest," a new book of poems, available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. "Tempest" explores fear, hope, and self-identity through striking fictional vignettes and surreal personal accounts. The new poems are much different, as they take on deeper, innate anxieties that accompany change. Writing the second book was a bit more challenging than his first, as he pulled more from his own personal experiences, which is always harder to write about. "'Tempest' is not rooted in horror or a genre, though there are horror elements in it just because I wrote it," he said. "It's a lot more about me and my story and my own coming out experience in some shape or form and relationships and family ties and different things that made me into who I am today. So, this is a lot more personal a process than 'Haunt' was." Meyer has been writing stories since he was a little kid, with his teachers and family encouraging him to always put pen to paper and get his stories out. These days, he writes "when the mood hits me" and never likes to force his poetry. Still, one of his rules is to never delete anything, so even if he does write something that may seem forced at the time, Meyer knows that he may come back to it months later and realize he was onto something that could work for another line of poetry. "There's a lot that inspires me to write-it could be a good book, a song that I am listening to, and it puts me in a mood to write something that has a specific feeling to it," he said. "What I noticed from people reading 'Tempest' before I published it, is the ones that I drew from personal experiences often were their favorite pieces." Currently, Meyer is working in the publishing industry at Globe Pequot Press and sees the anticipation and excitement in authors that he works with when they talk about their books, so he understands the intricacies that goes into publishing something today. "Anything that allows me the chance to be creative is what I enjoy and hope to do as a career, especially marketing," he said. "Working with books now is a dream come true. It's something rewarding to me, being able to work with people I relate to, and I understand that this is their baby, this is their project that they want to be perfect. Seeing the process that goes into it from the other side is teaching me a lot." In a perfect world, Meyer would just be writing books for a living, but he's thrilled that he gets to be involved in the publishing field. Looking ahead, he's already put together a few pieces as a possible follow-up to "Haunt," and he has an idea for a novel, and is thinking about another book of poetry where he can draw from his own experiences again. While there aren't plans yet for any book readings because of COVID-19, Meyer is hoping that he will be able to arrange some at local bookstores and the libraries around the Shelton area. To learn more about Meyer and his writing or to order his book, visit nothingpeak.com. Keith Loria is a freelance writer.