Tyler Lockett’s new book, Reflection (Andrew McMeel Publishing, $14.99), a collection of poetry including workshop sections, helps inspire readers to look inward and reflect on the value of patience and determination when overcoming hardship. Lockett is a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, an alumnus of Kansas State and a prominent keynote speaker. We recently chatted with him via email about his new book:
Seattle magazine: How long have you been writing poetry?
Tyler Lockett: Ever since I was in high school. I want to say going into my senior year which was 2010-2011.
SM: Who is your favorite poet?
TL: [I] don’t really have a favorite poet. I like watching a lot of people from [the] Passion for Christ Movement and how they went about spoken word poetry. Some of the poems inspired me to continue to try to find different ways to do writing schemes.
SM: What inspired the idea to publish a personal collection of poems?
TL: Honestly, the people came to me to publish it. I never really thought about it. I wanted to do a lot of presenting in front of people and didn’t realize the opportunities that would come until after I made the book. Now, I can go to schools and perform and talk about how the book relates to the world that we live in today.
SM: Which one of the poems in the collection are you most proud of?
TL: I like ‘Like father, Like Son’ a lot. It starts off with a father and mother being in a home and the father leaving, and all the reasons why a father would rather leave than stay, even though he wants to take care of his kid. All [of a] sudden, years later, the kid has a chance to change that. The poem is a story and every line is meaningful. [If] you follow every single line, you get captured and feel what the story is trying to make you feel.
SM: What benefits do you hope to see from the “workshop” sections in the book?
TL: The book allows me to go back, reread and remember poems that allowed me to get out of certain situations. It allowed me to be free from things that I’ve thought or experienced with friends or other people—it really helped me out. I think when you do something that helps yourself out, you’ll start to see how other people connect and relate to the things that you wrote about. Then when people do the workshops, [they] can be more honest with themselves—it’s not like anybody is going to see it.
SM: Considering the poems, ‘How Bad Do You Want It?’ and ‘Shoot Your Shot,’ how does this collection reflect your own life experiences and/or those of others?
TL: ‘How Bad Do You Want It’ makes you ask yourself, how far are you willing to go? What are you willing to do? What are you willing to let go of? What are you willing to chase after and achieve? Sometimes, it’s going to be easy to get to where you want to go. Sometimes, it’s going to be the hardest thing that you’ve ever done. You have to see the end from the beginning. You can’t just focus on what’s happening every single day, because you’re going to get entangled in your thoughts—you just have to see yourself growing. ‘Shoot Your Shot’ is about a guy trying to get a girl, but it’s in basketball terms. For people who understand basketball, it’s easy to tell the type of poem that it’s supposed to be. I like performing it [more] than people reading it, because you see it [through] a whole new lens.
SM: How does your football career affect your writing, and vice versa?
TL: It allows [me] to balance things. You need balance in football just like you need balance in other [areas] of life. When it comes to football, I think it allows me to come back freer, mentally ready, able to memorize things [well], find new ways to [get] rhythm and flow in the way that I present, find new ways to do releases, set people up and to get open. The more that you continue to do that, the better you get.
SM: In what ways do you think success in the sport industry stigmatizes passions for writing and other art forms?
TL: Football has done a lot for me. I thank God, Him, for allowing me to have the opportunity to play this game. The sport allowed me to get free tuition, play football at Kansas State and the NFL, and allowed me to meet a lot of great people and have relationships. I had a chance to go to the Pro Bowl and meet so many amazing players. Now, I can display the talents that I have outside of football. I look at it like you’re fishing—you allow your gifts and dreams to be out there and people who bite are like, “Hey, we want to use this. We want you to do this, we want you to do that.” You never know what can happen. Sometimes, the one thing that you’re good at allows everything else to come to fruition.
SM: What stands out most when reflecting on your writing process for this project?
TL: The thing that stands out the most is how it all flows together. Some days, things flow really good and it takes me an hour or two to finish [a poem]. Some days, it takes longer and you get that writing block. Instead of stressing over it, I just allow a week or two to go by, then all of a sudden, you start thinking about it again and things start flowing. The more I get to somewhere, I look at the poem and say, “Where is this poem going”’ Once I see where it’s going, I understand where to take it.
SM: What do you hope people will take away from this book?
TL: I want people to be honest with themselves and realize that honesty is the only way to start growth. I want them to label the things that cloud their judgment and find ways to not allow those things to dictate who they can be, then push themselves to do great things and see themselves for who God sees them to be, and who they should see themselves to be. The book is not forced. It’s just being honest about the things that you write. If it hits home with people, then it hits home.
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for clarity.