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How Instagram helped teen poet bag international book deal

PUBLISHED: 18:02 02 October 2019 | UPDATED: 18:02 02 October 2019

Maya Elphic, 17, will have her first solo anthology published in November 2019. Photo: Bethany Wales

Maya Elphic, 17, will have her first solo anthology published in November 2019. Photo: Bethany Wales

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A teen poet whose first book is about to hit shop shelves said social media was to thank for her sudden success.

White Moth by teen poet Maya Elphin will be released on November 13, 2019. Photo: @m.g.petriWhite Moth by teen poet Maya Elphin will be released on November 13, 2019. Photo: @m.g.petri

Maya Elphick, 17, from Hingham, started writing poetry aged 12 as a way to confront her debilitating anxiety.

Diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome, Maya was confined to a wheelchair throughout her early teens and home schooled as a result of the condition, which she said made her feel isolated.

Her raw, concise style caught the attention of her English teacher mother, who suggested the youngster share her work online.

Two years later, Maya's instagram account has got thousands of followers, and piqued the interest of American publisher A.B.Baird, which specialises in poetry.

A poem by teen writer Maya Elphic, shared on her Instagram account. Photo: @m.g.petriA poem by teen writer Maya Elphic, shared on her Instagram account. Photo: @m.g.petri

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On November 13, the young poet's debut solo anthology will be published, a feat which the City College student said seemed impossible 12 months ago.

She said: "When they first offered me the book deal I said no because I was worried it would be too much on top of my A levels and creative writing diploma. My mum was the one that encouraged me to do it, because I might not get another opportunity. I don't have illusions about it being a best seller but if a few people liked it that would be amazing."

The number of young people interested in poetry has boomed in recent years, thanks in no small part to "Insta-poets" sharing their short, often intricately illustrated work on the popular social platform.

For Maya, the trend has introduced her to other from across the globe, and she said the feedback and encouragement provided by the online community had been integral to her success.

She said: "Social media can be used to spread hate but there is a completely different side which has enabled people, especially the younger generation and women, to campaign and spread important messages. Poetry allows us to address issues such as mental health in a digestible way because you can fit so much into so little. It allows us to be raw and honest about our experiences without getting too personal."

Maya's book White Moth will be available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon and can be ordered from most high street bookshops.

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