In October of 2015 I was asked by JD DeHart to give an interview for his site Profiles in Poetry. The site has since gone into a state of limbo, and I’m unsure whether or not it will be going back live at any point, so I thought it would make sense to republish our conversation here at 17Numa…
What drives you to write?
A source of (infinite and eternal) energy at my core that (constantly) seeks release. A desire to have my words appear in front of other sentient human beings’ eyes (androids and clones are cool, too). A belief that what I have to offer might be received well by my fellow writers and artists, and possibly even the wider general public (though I don’t hold my breath). An aching concern deep in the marrow of my bones that knows all too well that the institutions of this world (economic, educational, religious, military, governmental) have reached such epic levels of decadence and corruption that things are now far beyond the pale, and so such principalities of power must be pointed out, stood up to, and fought against with the mighty pen (so that the sword does not become necessary [though it’s nearly too late for that, I fear]).
I write to open portals and pathways which lead to God, Peace, Love, and Truth. I write to stir the politically correct pot and to provoke those people who don’t like such holy ideas and emotions. I write because there is just a hint of narcissism coursing through my veins that wants to bleed out upon the world with its righteous stain. I write because I threw all my cards on the table many a moon ago, and so the only option that I’ve left open is to keep doubling down on the bet by using blue and black ink to try and win this hand that I’ve been dealt. I write because I continue to believe (against all better judgment) that the words which splash upon the page are eventually going to lead me to the fifth ace that I’ve been searching after all my life.
How did you get started?
In a certain sense I suppose writing is in my blood. My Grandfather was a sports writer and editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for thirty years, retiring while I was still a young boy. I was an athlete who played baseball through high school (back in another life) because that is where my passion was, but when my heart turned cold to such pursuits an empty chest was left with a void which needed to be filled. It took a number of years to figure out what to do next with my life. Once I began keeping a daily journal and my writing style started to emerge, I knew I’d stumbled upon the one true path which I was destined for.
I kept hammering away at the notepad for the better part of the next decade, a hermit holed up in my home, putting in the hours and pouring forth the words that I now look back on as being stepping stones to bring me to this very point. It’s been a little over a year since I started seriously sending out my work and treating the writing process with the sense of decency and professionalism which it deserves. All that being said, I fully understand that there is still more to learn in this lifetime than I’ll ever be able to cram into this (sometimes stubborn) head. But I’m cool with all that because I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and I dig every step of the journey along this path toward wherever/whatever, however it may come.
Who are the best poets around right now?
Ye gods! There are so many I could rattle off, but I’m always weary about creating lists because I worry that I might offend someone by not including them. But I’ll summon forth a bit of courage and start off by saying this: there is a Blogs Page at my site 17Numa where I’ve taken the time to link websites, blogs, and archives of work to the names of around 100 contemporary writers and artists, so I’d definitely recommend checking it out. If there is anyone you know of and think should be added to the page, please feel free to get in touch and let me know.
Some of the more prolific poets on the scene that I dig these days are Sarah Frances Moran, A.J. Huffman, Felino A. Soriano, Allison Grayhurst, Steve Klepetar, and Laura M. Kaminski. One of the wonderful aspects of social media that I’ve discovered since hardwiring myself into the Beast System earlier this year is being able to connect with writers from across the world…with that in mind, I’ve been turned on recently to the work of Indian poets such as Chumki Sharma, Kushal Poddar, and Ananya S. Guha. A few other poets I’d recommend at the moment are Don Beukes, Heath Brougher, and Phillip Matthew Roberts.
Where are the best places to publish?
Thankfully, there is no shortage of online and print journals available to submit work to these days. There is a true underground Renaissance of poetry bubbling up beneath the surface of the haughty institutionalized snobbery of academia in the form of independent, small press literary publishers….and I, for one, LOVE IT!
Some of my highly recommended venues are The Blue Mountain Review, Harbinger Asylum, Yellow Chair Review, Section 8 Magazine, Tuck Magazine, and Dead Snakes. At the risk of sounding too self-serving, I’ll make one more plug for 17Numa here because the Links Page at the site has a list of over 200 journals, magazines, lit blogs, and zines that some readers/writers might find valuable as a resource.
What are you reading right now?
A poet whose work I greatly admire, Alan Britt, was kind enough to send me a couple of his books recently, and so I’m currently in the middle of “Alone with the Terrible Universe” with “Lost Among the Hours” waiting in the wings. I was also humbled and honored the other day by Charles Clifford Brooks III who sent me a final draft of his forthcoming second book “Athena Departs.” I’m digging the quick-paced, poignant, precise style of the poems so far and definitely encourage everyone to keep an eye out for when this fine piece of art hits stores sometime in the near future. Other than that, copies of anything written by Nietzsche, Hunter S. Thompson, and Henry Miller are never too far out of reach…and, of course, The Book of Revelation is always kept near at hand.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Believe in yourself. Enjoy what you do. Put passion into every word you write. Take one step at a time. Be able to accept good criticism with an open mind. Be able to laugh off poor critiques with mad howling laughter. Understand that rejection is an important part of the publishing process. Read other writers…constantly. Support your peers. Take time to research the venues where you send your work. Follow submission guidelines. Maintain a healthy balance between humility and confidence. Focus on the present moment while keeping future goals in sight. Trust your own unique voice. Trust the wellspring of truth from which your words flow forth. Steady as she goes. Flow and flux with the ever changing currents of the Tao River. Smile. Laugh. Burn hot.