February 2, 2022

Pillow Thoughts

When I was assembling our writing prompt on zuihitsu and reading the very old Pillow Book, I also came across a new book by Courtney Peppernell titled Pillow Thoughts. I had never heard of Peppernell and I thought the book might be connected to my prompt in some way.

The Pillow Book was written by Sei Shonagon, a courtesan, around 1000, and it is a diary-like collection of her thoughts and observations on life. 

The modern-day Pillow Thoughts is a collection of poetry and prose that is - according to online descriptions - about heartbreak, love, loss, and self-worth. It is divided into ten sections, "making it so simple to skip to the parts where you want to feel the most." Hmmm, that's an interesting pitch.

It turns out that Peppernell is quite a bestselling author. Her writing career began in 2015 with her first novel, Chasing Paper Cranes

Her first poetry collection, Pillow Thoughts, was released in 2016 and reached number one in its category, and attracted the attention of other artists, including The Chainsmokers. 

The collection was then re-published by Andrews McMeel Universal, along with her second poetry collection The Road Between in August 2017. That year she also released her second novel, Keeping Long Island.

samples via her Instagram account

In an online interview, she explains the publication story.

What happened with Pillow Thoughts is originally it was self-published, and it had been out for a couple of months, and one morning I woke up and all these people on Instagram had messaged me and said that the Chainsmokers had tweeted out a poem from the book and everybody was asking “where is this poem from, we love this poem” so just to wake up to that was incredible. I knew who the Chainsmokers were too, I love their music, I like what they’re about, so to have them connect with a piece of my writing was super awesome and so we contacted them and they said “yeah send us a copy of the book we’d love to read it” and everything happened from there.


Courtney Peppernell is an Australian LGBT author, and she sells a lot of books. 

For me being in the LGBT community I wanna be…. I write for everyone. But LGBTQ+ they’re special to me too. Especially with pillow thoughts…there still a lot of people out there who think I’m male. They don’t realize I’m actually a female. They have no idea that I’m gay. Some of my favorite messages are…they’ll come to my page and go “Courtney I thought you were a guy and sort of now I kind of get you and your book makes way more sense now” that’s cool bc it shows that love is universal but it also connects me with LGBT readers and the struggles that some of them go through and just mental illness in general.

Visit our website at poetsonline.org

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