Lillian Young-Fritchie is, by far, the funniest and the most talented artist I have ever met.
She’s a force of a woman, with enormous cutting eyes and hair that is ten times redder than you’re imagining, and she is the illustrator of my debut poetry book, The Last Four Years. I get questions all the time about her. Who is she? How did you find her? What made you want illustrations? And the story is actually kind of funny.
When I first started The Last Four Years, I had no intention of publishing it. All I planned to do was go through all of my journals from the previous four years, and type up the poems so I had them in one place. It was for myself. Period. But as I went along, my brain started to pedal. A seed started to grow. And I started to wonder.
Lily and I had been friends since sophomore year. The year I buckled down on my project, we were both seniors. We had three classes together, back to back, and we sat together through all of them. This meant our classes were largely spent giggling madly into our fists, playing hangman in our journals, and bonding over our shared social anxiety. But one day, during AP European History, I looked over at her and I had a thought.
“Lily?” I said.
She was drawing on her hand, scrawling flower petals that seemed to breathe off her skin.
“I’m making a book,” I said, and saying it out loud was terrifying. Exciting. Amazing. I said it again. “I’m making a book. Like, putting a bunch of my poems together. Would you, like – be interested in maybe doing the art for it?”
Yeah. Just like that. In the middle of class, I asked her if she would illustrate an entire poetry book for me. The only thing crazier than the proposal is that she said yes.
It’s pretty obvious that my experience working with an illustrator is likely very different from others in my field. A lot of that has to do with how young I was when I embarked on this project. But another key aspect to the experience was the fact that Lily and I were, and are, very good friends. My experience working with an illustrator consisted of long work sessions at a coffee shop, whispered brainstorm sessions during class, and text messages full of exclamation marks. My experience in creating The Last Four Years is inseparable from the time I spent with Lily. Her drawings tugged my poetry onto a new level, made it more accessible, gave it a sense of completion. Working with her was a highlight of the whole process.
Lillian Young-Fritchie is the type of person who not only makes art, but makes you feel as though you’re witnessing art just by being around her. She gives you that feeling, that sense of opening, remembering, becoming, that same rustic lovely ache of gazing into a Monet painting. I hope she stays in my life for a long, long time.
yours in haste,
kelsey day is a young award winning poet who grew up in the blue mountains of north carolina. she has received recognition for a collection of short stories, as well as two novels she published at the ages of 11 and 13. today she is studying creative writing in boston, massachusetts.