Megan Falley planned to write a poem to give to her cousin as a wedding gift, but never got the chance.
Before she could reach the altar, her cousin Ana Falley, 27, lost her battle with cancer last October. Megan would like to someday write that poem, but until then she continues to put pen to paper, creating poetry.
Beating out hundreds of amateur poets in a competition last July, Falley got her first book deal with Write Bloody Press, an independent publishing agency based in Long Beach, Calif.
Falley dedicated her first full-length collection of poetry, “After the Witch Hunt,” to her cousin and mother.
“I love language, and poetry is kind of a compulsion. You have to write it,” said Falley, 23, of Valley Stream.
Falley described her book, published on April 15, as a survival song. The poems are from the perspectives of women surviving abuse, her mother and self included.
“When weaved together it’s darkest in the middle, but it ends with strength and triumph,” Falley said.
Her poems rose out of what she called a two-year emotionally, manipulative and abusive relationship. Since then, she moved on to a new relationship, but is still thankful for the bumps in the road and her ability to overcome them.
“The title of the book symbolizes the persecution of women and how that has happened to me personally and to other women throughout time,” Falley said. “It signifies survival and it’s not about a witch hunt. It’s about what happens afterwards.”
After Falley graduated from Valley Stream South High School in 2006, she attended SUNY New Paltz to study English literature. There, her interests in performing on stage and writing came together.
She joined the college’s slam poetry team, competed for all four years, and later returned after graduation to coach the team.
“I think the first time I was nervous, but not enough to stop me,” Falley said. “If anything, it helped me become more passionate.”
Amanda Kerner watched as her college roommate’s poetry evolved over the years and without hesitation summed up the writing as honest, brave and outspoken.
“I’ve seen it from the beginning,” said Kerner, 23, of Hewlett. “It’s not the kind of poetry you’d expect. It shows what people wouldn’t otherwise talk about, but it’s a topic people really need to hear.”
After 2010, when she represented New York City at the National Poetry Slam, her poems began appearing in literary magazines like “Literary Bohemian” and “PANK Magazine.”
The creative juices began flowing even earlier than in high school and college.
When Falley was young, her mother Annie said she would tell a story out loud and ask her mother to write it down because she couldn’t write yet.
“She always had this gift for writing,” said Annie Falley, 60, of Valley Stream. “When she had a bad day, she wouldn’t talk about it, she would write it down. She processed things through writing.”
After her daughter graduated college in May 2010, a part of Annie Falley wanted to tell her daughter to go back and get a master’s degree, but another part is glad things went the way they did. At Megan Falley’s book release event on May 26 at the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe in Manhattan from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., she will perform readings from “After the Witch Hunt.” And after the summer winds down, Falley is traveling across the country on a three-month book-signing tour in September.
“She’s doing what she loves and making a living out of it,” Annie Falley said. “Isn’t that what we all want? She’s definitely not a starving artist.”
To learn more about “After the Witch Hunt,” visit meganfalley.com.