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Local DJ's new form of expression

Radio personality and voice-over professional Nicole Vilencia has a lot to say, and while she's not shy about speaking her mind, she recently chose to express herself more quietly with "Play on Words," a self-published book of her original poetry.

"I've been writing since I was 10 years old, but it was more for myself. I didn't necessarily have to put it out there," she says.

Vilencia originally planned to create the book as a holiday gift for close friends and family, but later she felt that some of her work, particularly poems about loss and love, might resonate with others.

"In the 10 years I've lived in Ashland, I've experienced great career success and equally great loss. It's hard to articulate that kind of pain, and I hope readers can look at my poems and know that whatever is going on with them, they are not alone," she says.

She even dedicates the book to those who might feel marginalized in some way: "To the dreamers and the losers; the outsiders and the underdogs, the unpopular and the quirky; the artists and the creators."

Vilencia, who is known as Nikki Vee on classic rock station KZZE 106.3, said creating the book was fun, but organizing the poems was difficult. "It was a little like presenting music for a radio station. I wanted each section to have a certain theme, but I also wanted to mix it up a little."

She loosely organized the book into musings on life, love, death and introspection. The book is a kind of autobiography and also a love letter to the Rogue Valley community that she loves so much.

"Not all the poems are cheerful," she says. "In fact, there's a lot of dark stuff in the book, but it's all honest and it's what I have walked."

What may inspire readers the most is Vilencia's fearless attitude about publishing. "I would tell anyone who wants to publish a book, to just do it. There's really no excuse these days. Self-publishing is easier than it has ever been."

Vilencia used an online service called CreateSpace.com, but there are a number of self-publishing and e-book outlets, such as Smashword, LuLu and Amazon, that will help aspiring authors move their work from manuscript to book form. The cost of these publishing services ranges anywhere from $300 to $6,000, depending on one's needs. Recently, traditional book publisher Simon & Schuster announced that it is creating a new self-publishing service in recognition of the wave of writers taking this path.

Self-publishing has a strong history with poets. Walt Whitman, Ezra Pound and Elizabeth Barrett Browning all published their own work. Small poetry books, called chapbooks, are relatively easy and inexpensive to publish; often local print shops can run off copies for less than a dollar a piece. Chapbooks are also a good way for poets to get their work to the public.

"Not everyone can be Oprah's favorite poet," says Vilencia. "A lot of us have something to share and that will connect us with one another. I say if you have a book in you, don't wait to be discovered, just put it out there for yourself and see what happens."

Although Vilencia enjoys writing, she says voice work is her real love, so she recorded several of her poems. To hear her read poems from the book, visit soundcloud.com/nicolevilencia.

"Play on Words" is available on Amazon.com.

Angela Decker is a freelance writer in Ashland and can be reached at decker4@gmail.com.