Long before Misha Collins ever donned Castiel’s trench coat and raised Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) from perdition on Supernatural, he was writing. Writing poetry, to be exact.
For decades now, the actor has turned to poetry to process things going on in his life. “For a while I was just writing it for myself,” Collins tells EW. But around the time he first started his gig on Supernatural, he sent a few of his poems out to poetry journals, which “used to be a thing,” he says with a laugh. “I submitted paper copies through the mail to a few literary journals, and four out of five of my poems got published. It was amazing!”
Amazing as it was, it led to years of writer’s block. “I was like, ‘What if this gets published someday?’ I became neurotic about it,” Collins says. So he forgot about publishing and returned to writing for himself. Until one day he realized just how many poems he’d written.
“At a certain point I had a large enough volume of poems, and in the back of my mind it was like, ‘I would like to put this out in the world just to put a bow on it and have it out there,'” he says. “Again, kind of weirdly just for me.”
Cut to Collins announcing his poetry book, Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You, and Target ordering 25,000 copies. Now Collins is sharing his poetry in a way he never anticipated. “It’s weird because I’m a CW actor, and if you were to tell me a CW actor is publishing a book of poetry, I don’t want to read that. But I’m actually kind of proud of the poems and I’ve gotten really good feedback about the book.”
Out Oct. 12, the book is in many ways autobiographical, Collins says, with poems he’s written throughout the last 20 years of his life. (And yes, for Supernatural fans, one of the poems is written from Castiel’s perspective, though Collins doesn’t want to say which. “It is nuanced enough that it is not obvious,” he says.)
At this point, Collins can’t quite say if he’ll write another book of poetry in the future. He’s taking this one step at a time. And in the meantime he’s keeping busy with a second season of his successful fiction podcast, Bridgewater, and a new PBS show, Roadfood: Discovering America One Dish at a Time. “It’s been a bit of a passion project,” Collins says of the show. “It’s a show that’s been percolating in my mind in various different iterations for several years.”
In the series, Collins travels to different cities in America and gets to know people via food. (Anthony Bourdain would be proud.) “We’re using food as a lens into communities and cultures that I wouldn’t otherwise be introduced to and trying to get to know people while breaking bread,” Collins says. “It’s about experiencing delicious food and building empathy for people who are from different walks of life.”
The series will take Collins all over the country, from Ohio to New York to Texas and many places in between. Having already shot four episodes, Collins says, “I have really enjoyed exploring the country and having this excuse to talk to people who are by and large from different subcultures than I’m from. It’s been quite fascinating.”
Needless to say, this former angel is keeping busy.