Savannah Brown Talks YouTube, Poetry, and Being an introvert in the Internet Age


Savannah Brown is a 20-year-old writer and YouTuber. In 2014, the young star uploaded her slam poem, "What Guys Look For in Girls", to YouTube. The piece was received with tremendous positive feedback and rapidly became a viral hit, resulting in greater recognition and popularity for Savannah's work. Her channel currently has more than 435,000 subscribers and over 19 million views. In addition to her videos, Savannah released her debut poetry book Graffiti (And Other Poems) in 2016,  a written work brimming with captivating language and raw honesty. Whether through writing or filming videos, her work is often marked by an alluring sense of vulnerability and passion, highlighting the deeper parts of human emotion that most people avoid talking about. Savannah ultimately utilizes her online presence to foster a space for discussion, creativity, and advocacy for herself as well as for her audience. Lithium writer Rawan Olma talked to Savannah about a large range of topics including writing, the internet, and being an introvert in the Internet age for our February issue.
Lithium: You released an absolutely beautiful poetry compilation last year. What was it like to navigate the process of creating and releasing something so independently?                            
Savannah: It was, admittedly, a bit tricky. I’ve always been an “if you want a thing done well, do it yourself” sort of person, so from the get-go, I knew it was a project I wanted to handle primarily on my own. In some ways, the process was a dream. I had full creative control; I was even making changes up until the night before I sent it to the printers (which, in retrospect, probably wasn’t the best way to handle things). I also had to learn how to make a book from start to finish, from the writing and formatting to different types of cover finishes and distribution. Ultimately, it was hugely rewarding.

Lithium: Out of all the poems you have ever written, which would you consider to be your favorite? 
Savannah: Each one means something unique to me, so I like them all for different reasons. If I had to pick, though, I think “Real Estate” does quite a good job of describing what my insides might look like.

Lithium: You have discussed the subject of introversion on your channel a few times. As an introvert, how has the internet impacted you?
Savannah: My presence online—on YouTube, specifcally—is what I credit as the catalyst that helped me develop my own personhood. I’ve been making videos since I was thirteen, and around that time I was incredibly anxious talking to people my age and had major problems expressing myself. YouTube, though, became the medium that allowed me to speak freely and make jokes and be creative. Once I knew what all those things felt like, I was able to be myself in person, and not just in front of a camera.

Lithium: Your powerful first slam poem, “What Guys Look For In Girls” was uploaded to YouTube 3 years ago, gaining you and your channel a lot of well-deserved recognition and popularity. How would you say you've changed since you first started YouTube?                                                    
Savannah: I’m much more myself now than I was back then. "What Guys Look For In Girls" is actually the only video of mine that survived from that era. Since I was in 'performance poetry mode', I still felt like it was true to myself. However, in all [of the] other videos I made (mostly vlogs), I felt as though I was portraying a character. I think the person I was acting like was me at one point, but I grew out of it, and despite doing so, I still felt pressured to behave that way because I worried people wouldn’t like me anymore if I didn’t. I felt weighed down by both my own expectations and those of my audience. Nowadays, I feel much freer to make and act whatever and however I’d like. 


Lithium: YouTube is currently the largest video sharing platform, perpetually advancing and growing to reach its ever increasing audience. 10 years from now, do you think that YouTube will continue to grow and expand, or do you predict that it will be replaced by another platform? 
Savannah: It’s tough to say since YouTube is such a superpower these days. I’m certainly open to something else—as much as I love YouTube, it’s clear it has issues—but I’m honestly not sure if another platform could garner the same level of popularity.

Lithium: What do you like the most about our generation? What do you like the least?  
Savannah: It’s [difficult] to generalize an entire generation (not to mention the fact that I’m not even sure what generation I’m a part of—Generation Z? Maybe?), but I will say that kids my age seem to be more empathetic, I think as a result of the internet making the world smaller and more accessible. I’m honestly not sure I actively dislike anything—maybe that kids are starting to get really good at forming an identity from a young age, and I’m super jealous? Like, just getting really in-tune with themselves in terms of makeup and fashion and stuff. Today’s twelve-year-olds can do their eyeliner really [well] and have interesting, inventive outfits and at that age, I’m pretty sure I didn’t brush my hair and my mom was still picking out my clothes for me.
Lithium: Do you ever feel that there’s a disconnect between the Savannah that you show online versus your offline personality?
Savannah: I think it’s true that, for everyone, there’s always at least a hint of subconscious deception. Nobody sees me trying to say the same sentence ten times over, or fixing my hair in between takes, or saying the wrong word and having to cut what I was trying to say entirely. However, I’d say what I do portray is very true to myself, generally.

Lithium: Are there any particular creative works (writing, films, music, paintings, photography, etc) that have significantly impacted you?
Savannah: Honestly—and this isn’t a great answer, but it’s all I have—there [are] too many to name. Maybe I should start keeping a list of these things.

Lithium: How do you overcome comparing yourself to other writers and creators?
Savannah: It’s difficult! I still have a bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to my poetry; not many poets started on YouTube, and even after my poetry got popular, I still hadn’t performed at an open mic night or competed in anything. I felt as though—and still do, to an extent —I hadn’t 'earned' my popularity, nor did I feel I was good enough to be compared to some of the best poets on the scene at the moment. And I still feel a weird sense of guilt over that. Really, you just have to keep trekking along. Also, I find that if I really enjoy something someone else has done, I try not to get jealous, but to figure out why I really like that thing, and learn how I can incorporate similar elements into my own work.

Lithium: One of your most beautiful and profound works is your poem "Loving Like an Existentialist". Could you elaborate on the inspiration as well as the thought and writing process that went behind creating such a moving piece? 
Savannah: "Loving Like an Existentialist" was created as my response to the ubiquitous trope in books and film (and life, really) that we will some day find one soulmate who we are destined to spend our lives with. I think that’s a silly idea! I don’t believe in destiny or fate, and I think that I could find a bunch of different people who I could [fall in] love with but that’s the very reason why I think love is special. It’s special because you, against all odds, found each other, and even if you’re not 'destined' to be together, you still wake up every morning and consciously choose love, and say that today, I will love you, and I will continue to choose to, even if the universe doesn’t want or need me to. I think that’s awfully special.

Lithium: You are currently 20 years old, an age that many people deem to be one of the most decisive and stressful times as well as one of identity formation. Do you believe this to be true in your case?
Savannah: Definitely. I wake up every day different from how I was the day before, I think. Obviously, some changes are indiscernible, but I’m constantly growing and evolving and learning. I’m not sure if there actually is an age where we stop forming our own identity—it’s a lifelong process.

Lithium: Any future projects?
Savannah: I’m currently working on a slightly modified second edition of Graffiti, which is super exciting. Also, I’m working on another writing-related thing, which, unfortunately, has to be kept secret for now!

3 comments

  1. I love Sav, I love this, what a good interview. I can hear her saying these things. GAH I'm so happy this happened!

    ReplyDelete
  2. WAIT BUT I LOVED THAT "What Guys Look For In Girls" POEM !! this is so cool! such a charismatic interview

    ReplyDelete