What I Gave You
“There’s always good in the bad. I will always be testing you, pushing you past your self-imposed limits but,
above all, I will always be here to support you…Forever yours, The Universe.”
Whether you realize it or not, the universe lays out your perfect plan, the steps you take towards the dreams
that are bigger and better for you. Author Madison Kelley realized this truth as she embarked on a journey
marked with independence, mystery, love, heartbreak, and clarity. At twenty-five, she has a breadth of
lessons to share. In her debut poetry collection, What I Gave You, Kelley uses poetry to follow the ups,
downs, and in-betweens of growing up.
Brimming with heartfelt detail, vivid memories, and clever lyricism, What I Gave You takes readers on a
bumpy ride through the twenty-somethings — first loves, first tastes of freedom, first heartbreaks, and first
understandings of your life’s purpose. Kelley makes an example of her own experience. From ending long
distance relationships to moving to Macau for a new job to finding her purpose as a writer, she assures you
that there are twists and turns on this journey, and that’s okay.
Most importantly, What I Gave You promises that you’ll be okay.
Early Praise for What I Gave You:
“What I Gave You is a beautiful piece of work.” — Heather Corbally Bryant, author of Orchard Days
“Maddie Kelley writes to those who have ever had a broken heart and turned that pain into power. Her
words are gentle, painful and promising all-in-one. If you enjoy the purples and pinks of sunsets, candlelit
nights alone with a good book, and have ever felt the ache of a broken heart, then you must read what she
has in store.” — Sam McDonald, Bookstagrammer @floralsandsuede
For Speaking Engagement Booking:
Please download my author page.
Potential Speaking Topics:
Favorite poetry related topics to discuss:
- Creative process
- Increase in technology affecting our attention span and why poetry will continue to rise
- Poetry and how it’s similar to lyrics and music
- The experience of sharing your most vulnerable self
- Inspiration: where it comes from, how to find more etc.
Favorite stories from the book to tell/discuss:
- Allison’s Story– Allison came to me on a Sunday afternoon in my living room. Taylor Swift’s illicit affairs was playing on my speaker and I closed my eyes to listen to the instruments and there it was: a lonely diner on the side of a highway. It was the middle of a cold, rainy night and there was a waitress pouring coffee in a brown and yellow dress. Brown- haired, brown-eyed Allison. I watched her fall head over heels for the man who walked into the diner that night and I knew I had to tell the story of when her world fell apart.
- Charlotte’s Story – Charlotte is one of my favorite characters in the collection. Her story feels giddy and sweet which is a stark contrast to Allison’s story. This whole collection sort of ends at the beginning of the next chapter in my life, and Charlotte’s story is similar. I actually hate when shows or great stories end at the beginning, but that frustration is just the sign of a good author. Charlotte is the only employee at Book End and she loves her job. She comes from a well-off family, but she left the glamor and her parent’s expectations behind to live the life she wanted. One day, this guy walks into the door and catches her heart by surprise. Who knows what’s next for them. Will he come by the store again? Will she ask his name this time? Will they ever go on a date? That’s for fate to decide.
- Kousei’s story – Kousei’s story is an extended ending (or an OVA to my weebs) to one of my favorite animes, Your Lie in April. If you Google it, the first question that comes up is “Is it happy or sad?” It’s both. Your Lie in Apriltells the story of a piano prodigy named Kousei. After his mother’s death, he loses his will to play. But after meeting a free-spirited girl who plays the violin, his life turns around. My extended story takes place many years later, when Kousei is walking through the park where they first met. He remembers her fondly but the memories are still painful. I think we can all connect to that idea. There are people and places that we lose or leave behind as we continue on our own paths. Memories are comforting but also can be hard to face.
- To All The Witches has been all of my early reader’s favorite piece. As a woman, I’ve experienced my fair share of bullshit. It’s harder to find a woman who hasn’t been taken advantage of in some shape or form, than it is to find one who has. That sucks. I have been blessed growing up, surrounded by strong women. They taught me to fight against injustice and inspired me to live for the world I want, not for the one I’m in. I am really inspired by magic (Hi, ex-Disney cast member here) and I love 90’s shows like Charmed or movies like Practical Magic. As such, this poem gives very “witchy” vibes. I wanted to combine the ides of magical powers with the power of being female and make something that feels like a battle cry and a spell all-in-one.
- Janie’s story is really fun. I liked the idea of two people looking up at the same moon and having a conversation in their head wondering if the other person could hear them. Janie’s story is one of love, regret, hard choices, and unanswered questions.
- My story. This book is the culmination of my experiences from my early twenties to today. In the collection, you see me deal with a long distance relationship, finding my purpose/career, dealing with the pandemic, and just growing up. I think in writing this book I really began to understand what I wanted out of a relationship. Writing gave me the space to dream about my ideal man, what he looks like, how he talks to me, how we met, how we fell in love, etc. I found peace in my breakup and I was able to learn so much from it that now I can go back out into the world with a clearer understanding of my needs and desires.
Favorite quotes from the book to discuss:
- “I think I finally learned the difference between running and walking away” – really describes the book well
- “But what’s worse— A girl who loves herself? Or a girl who hates herself?” – interesting to think about how people react towards women. We simultaneously boost women who are confident with themselves but also somehow that makes them conceited
- “For the first time I don’t want to use this pain to write something beautiful.”
- “How could I not realize That I was jack And you were the box.”
Favorite personal topics to discuss:
- Professional life as a young woman; what it’s like in the workplace
- Personal growth
- Finding your purpose
- Creative processes
10 Potential questions to ask:
- Where do you get your inspiration?
- What’s your creative process like? How has it evolved over time?
- What’s your advice for young women going through a breakup?
- Long distance, is it worth it?
- Why do you write poetry as opposed to other mediums?
- Why is poetry still relevant?
- How do you balance a full time job, getting your masters and writing a book at the same time
- What’s next for you?
- What’s it like living abroad? What brought you overseas?
- Advice for someone going through a breakup?
Main piece of advice/takeaway from your book:
Life is like the ocean, full of waves. We just have to ride them out and become the best surfers we know how to be. Keep learning, keep being kind, and keep growing.