Her book, “Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across: Poems by Mary Lambert,” scheduled to be published in October, tackles tough issues including child abuse, sexual violence, and mental illness.

“There’s a lot of redemption in the book,” says Lambert, who was sexually abused as a child and has long struggled with depression and bipolar disorder. In high school, she came out as a lesbian. “The advocacy and talking about mental health within the context of art is very important,” says Lambert.

Culture change

Lambert, 29, is talking honestly about taboo topics, including LGTBQ issues. She’s encouraged by the candor of fellow artists including Sam Smith and Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui.

“All these people are outspoken about who they are and it’s not just accepted or tolerated, it’s encouraged,” she says.

ONE CALL AWAY: Friends have been a pillar of strength for Lambert. There was one night in particular where she phoned a friend to come over during a really rough night.


In 2012, Lambert wrote and sang the chorus on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Grammy nominated hit “Same Love,” an LGTBTQ anthem celebrating marriage equality. She later turned that hook into another song, “She Keeps Me Warm,” which had a video featuring a love story between two women–showing how normal lesbian relationships can be.

“I think the more we can normalize the experience, the more comfortable people get around queerness,” Lambert says.

Handling criticism

Lambert is used to a lot of commentary from fans and foes, especially on social media. She’s learning to let things go, including criticism about her size and appearance.

Nowadays, her health and happiness aren’t tied to her weight. She’s stopped obsessing over her body in the mirror and she doesn’t get on scale. Instead she’s focused on how she feels.

Suicidal in her past, Lambert takes life one day at a time. She relies on friends, especially when she feels low.

“I remember I had a really, really rough night and I just called a friend and my friend came over and – I’m getting emotional thinking about it – I was so, so grateful.”



Shame is an Ocean,” a book of poetry by Mary Lambert, is available on October 23.