Available on Amazon, Heirloom Seeds was written and self-published by Port Hawkesbury resident Taylor Linloff.

PORT HAWKESBURY: Taylor Linloff’s journey of self-discovery has taken them into the literary world.

Released last week on Amazon, Heirloom Seeds was written and self-published by the Port Hawkesbury resident. Broken down into 17 poems, the work is 30 pages, plus acknowledgements, which makes it a short collection of poetry called a chapbook.

“I was always the bookish type. I was one of those precious children who always had their nose in a book and actually read at an above-grade level for all of my life,” they recounted.

While attending SAERC, Linloff recalled they were introduced to spoken word and written poetry and “it just absolutely sparked something in me, and I absolutely loved it, and I found that I had a flair for it.”

“With poetry, in a way it’s its own language,” they said. “Poetry speaks from the soul and I wanted to talk about my own experiences from the heart, and not just make it about fictionalizing myself into a person. I wanted to make it something that everyone could relate to because poetry is a love language in itself, and I think everyone can relate to that, even if you don’t write it yourself.”

In February, 2021 Linloff was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“I was specifically diagnosed with bipolar 2 which is the type of bipolar where you have less severe highs but more severe lows,” they said. “I quickly realized there were not a lot of resources, especially in rural Nova Scotia, rural Cape Breton. A lot of mental health focuses on short-term anxiety or unipolar depression, and I found that fuels a stigma and suffering for bipolar individuals. So I started writing poetry again as a coping mechanism, along with going to see a mental health nurse every couple of weeks, and taking daily medication. Those poems ended up becoming what I called the collection Heirloom Seeds.”

The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder create a lot of stigma, said Linloff.

“I realized that, ‘hey maybe if people read this, they’ll see into the mind of somebody who has bipolar disorder but is trying to be the best self they can be; to love themselves and to love others, and love the world around them.’ Because a lot of stigma and views of bipolar people is still that we are incapable of thriving in life and that we are two-faced people,” they noted. “What a lot of people still think of bipolar is that we’re suicide cases or that we’re crazy and I want to stop that stigma, starting with my work.”

Linloff said their aim is to bring awareness to mental illness.

“Unfortunately, with bipolar disorder, we have mood swings so a lot of people think that we’re just so up and down, that we’re faking it, and that we’re just an on and off switch; we’re angry and crazy, and we’re just depressed and don’t care,” they noted. “We’re just like anybody else; we’re fully faceted human beings with our own struggles, with our own happiness. We are capable human beings if we try our best and just want to be part of the bigger picture in life that a lot of people don’t realize, unfortunately.”

Not just bipolar disorder, the poetry collection also talks about the loss of Linloff’s father Conrad in 2020.

“It talks about anxiety; it talks about self-love, radical self-acceptance, and what it’s like to be a mentally ill person trying to love themself and trying to extend that love for everything around them,” they stated.

Linloff was diagnosed as autistic in 2018, three months before they turned 24, but they started thinking they were on the spectrum four years before that when they saw “traces of myself” in people they met who were on the spectrum.

A few months after their diagnosis, Linloff joined an Autism Canada group on Facebook.

Linloff has participated in Denim Day at the Strait Area Women’s Place and was the keynote speaker for the Port Hawkesbury Walk for Autism. Linloff also hosted a session with Autism Nova Scotia in Port Hawkesbury about adult autism and the need for more resources and support.

Linloff’s advocacy work extends beyond the region to other parts of the province and the country, such as helping with publications from Autism Nova Scotia, including an autism magazine, and performing poetry at Montreal’s Pride Parade.

Even though they are “feminine presenting,” Linloff said they are non-binary, which means they don’t consider themself male or female

The first ever Pride Week activities, including a Pride Flag raising and Pride Parade, were held in 2019, thanks to the efforts of Linloff, and this annual event has grown since.

“I’m looking very forward to it,” they noted of Pride Month 2023. “Pride is something we always strive to be bigger, better, and brighter for people.”

For years Linloff said they hid but they are no longer ashamed.

“I’ve accepted that I’m bipolar, I’ve accepted that I’m autistic, I’ve accepted that I’m non-binary and no longer ashamed of any of those facets of who I am. I hid the fact that I was a lot of these things for a while and that’s not healthy or good for anybody,” they explained. “I knew that I was bipolar for over a year but I was ashamed of it because there’s so much stigma and there’s not a lot of understanding about it. Before I knew I was autistic, I knew there was something different about me and I tried to mask and hide it. When I knew I was non-binary since 2014, I only really officially came out a couple of years ago. It was hard and I don’t wish hiding on anybody. I want people to be able to authentically live as themselves because no one should have to hide in any form of closet.”

As for future plans, Linloff said they are working on a novella, as well as more poetry, adding that it’s healthy to get words on paper.

“I hope to write bigger collections in the future, but I wanted to start off with something smaller as a first publishing/debut,” they added. “The working title is ‘I am Marshall,’ which is about a ‘woman’ in the fictional town of Brackish Cove, Cape Breton who figures out that they are non-binary, and they have to figure out who they are, and figure out what that means in this small town in Cape Breton. I’m definitely also hoping to publish more poetry in the future as well because I don’t think I’m ever going to stop writing poetry at this point. It’s an excellent form of self-expression.”

The eBook version of Heirloom Seeds is scheduled to come out on Valentine’s Day, Linloff said. In the meantime, they said the chapbook can be ordered on Amazon at: https://a.co/d/eh1YUkr, Linloff’s Facebook page is “Taylor Linloff- Writer,” and they can be found on Instagram by following: @TaylorLinloffWriter.