Poet Interview #7: Brent Danley Jones

brentdanleyjones

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you
start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired
you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

Poetry was my first interest in writing, as it can be quick, cutting, and concise–which works in well with my attention span. I remember first reading “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” in high school and having my stomach churned in 5 lines, that’s when I think I first realized the power of poetry. Most of my major influences, however, have come from the slam poetry scene, as the power of delivery can really carry the intent of the poet through to the listener.

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of
the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each
day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is
changed since you began writing poetry?

My poetry is a mix of wordplay and a desire to make a point, often playfully lulling between the two for effect. My idea of poetry has changed in time with time, yet I still look back at a few of the things I wrote when I was 19 that actually surprise the adult I am today, as having some greater insight than I would have given myself for the time. So without having a specific guide to writing, I think my subconscious was always trying to better understand emotion and expression, and the strength of my writing came from the honesty of that perspective.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that
fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

I have a secret Facebook page at Brent Danley Jones, Writer and an even more secret blog on Blogger with the same title I update when I want some feedback on a new idea of writing, poetic or otherwise, but I suppose I don’t prioritize either with the effort others do, as a kind of business of the self, instead mostly using it as a digital collective to show small pieces or look at the scope of works over time.

Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your
work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?

As I live in Japan, where less than 1% of the population speaks English, congregation can prove difficult, so I mostly rely on readers I established from my time in the US in years previous. I’ve been consuming new-wave poppy classics of modern time more than anything, and am currently thrilled with “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain as something new and interesting in terms of style and content.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying
to get their work noticed?

Share. And the scale doesn’t have to be large. The best motivation has usually come from two or three people reading my work right in front of me as I nervously await some manner of reaction, and ask questions of what works. You can’t beat that live effect, and it’s worth getting over stage fright of showing your writing to get it. I can’t count the wonderful poets and poems I’ve known that haven’t seen their fair share of daylight. Give any and everyone that chance to read what you wrote.

Statues in the Park

Statues in the Park- Darius Stewart

Toward the end of day & wishing
again for daylight. What’s discernible is

evening’s impending gloom. If we’d admit it,
this is a sad occasion:

us perched at separate ends of a park bench;
block-headed statues in the dark looming

behind us holding so dearly to one another.
This is what makes art. What art makes of us:

models for statues battling stubbornness.
We try to one-up the other without too much effort,

since that would lessen the impact
of the plan. Which would be what, exactly?

To wax sullen in the afterglow of day gone awry
is to hold our tongues as best as we can.

As for these statues, they bear no resemblance
to any human frailty; though their actions speak

as much about truth as any whose skulls are shaped
to resemble childish drawings of perfect squares.

Perhaps this suggests there is kindness
in our obstinacy—each of us somehow regarding the gift

of winning as if it were the daily courier
arriving with news the earth is no longer a viable place

to live. An absurdity, yes; though a game two men can play—
holding & holding on, as if forever, to silence,

fearing what becomes a man who
clings only to what’s left standing.

Poet Interview #6 : Darius Stewart

Walking Is Still Honest Headshot

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

I was born November 27,1979 in Knoxville, TN. I’m a bartender and server using that income to allow me to write. I’ve been asked why I don’t teach since I have an MFA in creative writing…but it’s what allows me to do what I want to do, which is write–there’s a pun intended in there if you can locate it…lol

I haven’t always written poetry. I started writing when I was 10, in the fifth grade. I won an essay contest, and since then writing has been my favorite recess activity. Regarding writing poetry, I started in high school, writing haiku, and then transcending to a more free form writing style.. As a freshman at Tennessee State University, I took both fiction and poetry workshops while writing term papers due to the curriculum of an English major. All these diverse modes of writing expressed to me that I love to write. Whatever my mind can occupy in any given situation is going to be modulated in the form in which I feel it’s intended. It can be poetry, fiction, nonfiction essay, book reviews, etc. I just love to write, as I hope is exampled by how I’m pontificating answers to your questions…lol

I started writing poetry–seriously–after taking an introductory creative writing course at the University of Tennessee, and the instructor liked my fiction due to it’s lyricism; so she asked me if I wrote poetry; that’s when poetry took over my writing career. I began reading Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, Jack Gilbert, Terrance Hayes, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska–I love the Polish poets!–and , over the years, I began reading my contemporaries: Roger Reeves, L. Lamar Wilson, S. E. Smith, Marcus Wicker–there’s so many I can’t name them all; but these jump to mind. I adore reading good poetry written by exceptionally talented, almost to the point of presciently worded verse that has a political bent–whether it be race issues, romantic issues, or a globular perspective reflecting upon the culture milieu of the world in which we live. The late great poet, Adrienne Rich spoke that “the personal is political.” I agree. Politics is an extension of the sympathies and empathies I believe all writers strive to exude in their work–because we can’t help but write that way.

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?

When I begin to write a poem I began with a germ. Something has to make me go hmmmm.. And I sit down at the computer and type whatever my brain is thinking. I get up and walk around searching for metaphors that I can make both symbolic and literal.I’m a Sagittarius, so what that means is that we are constantly thinking, analyzing. I’m also left-handed, which means my mind operates on the right-side of the brain, and that is where creativity is fostered. So writing for me is an artistic enterprise in which I believe I was destined to endeavor.

My idea of poetry is very simple: write from the heart. If I read a poem and don’t feel a pulse, I flat-line. I’m dead. So many writers, editors, critics, etc. don’t accept the myriad ways in which good writing can be expressed. They aren’t objective enough to appreciate writing that is good but not to their liking. As an editor at Bat City Review, I read several poems that would “take the top of my head off”–to paraphrase Emily Dickinson–but I read these poems in the manner that Roger Ebert would review a film–see the merit of the work is trying accomplish, and with an objective mind, decide whether it’s an achievement or a failure. That’s how I write. That’s how I revise and edit, or decide to keep the darlings or kill the others.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

I am on FACEBOOK. You can look me up under Darius Stewart.I don’t socially media-lize except for that…lol…And I’m so open to meeting people who enjoy writing, literature, the arts, etc…It allows me to make friendships that encourages each of us to make life more enjoyable by sublimating our adversities with beauty: family, faith, and friends–these relationships that allow you to lean back and sigh and think that life is good.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

The only advice I can offer to anyone who wants to be considered a writer is to “READ READ READ! WRITE WRITE WRITE!” Too often I’ve told friends, acquaintances, whomever, who say they want to write but don’t like to read, or vice versa….they’ll never be a writer. Writing is a practice just like practicing law or medicine. Patience is a virtue. If you have something to say, then say it when you feel the full breath of the message you’re trying to convey. It’s when your heart is racing, and you’re writing at the speed of light to get those words written on the page. It’s when you can find yourself at ease after feeling such anxiety to put pen to paper, or fingers on the keyboard, because your mind has relaxed itself to think of the best way to share your thoughts with the world.

Under Human Lines

Under Human Lines~ Joseph Altamore

“ur CUTE!”

the email says 

from some girl in your

spam folder
you sit in bed 

in your

vomit-crusted t-shirt,

the gnarls in your hair

battling the matted, greasy valleys,

the circles of your eyes

like canyons,

jaundiced, yellowing skin,

blood pouring forth from

a split winter lip,

socks a week old,

pants a week old,

beard a week old
you stare out the window

under human lines,

at the bustling street, sleety 

and

bleared through 

the backwashed film-caked

glass
the frost

leapt forward to snap with the morning

today,

glossing the whole urban world

in a blanched 

web
the traffic lights wink,

the horns curse,

the working men writhe

in their safety belts

in your childhood, the
changes were slow 

as the hours of new&hesitant love,

enamor with the world 

was honest and

full of laughter
but now,

god is twirling the planet 

on his finger

like a living basketball

faster&faster
earth transpires;
a glassy-eyed addict prays, his

fingers bitten by the bible

clutched in his

chapped, leathered

hands,

an officer stops a car,

exhaust eats the sky,

knuckles crack in the supermarket,

eyes close in the alleyway

the cats catch the mice,

the dogs eat the cats,

and

nothingness cloaks itself in transparent wait

for the end

of 

all the above
but at least 

they say

that

you’re cute

Poet Interview #5: Joseph Altamore

altamore WISH

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Have you always written poetry? Who/what first inspired you to start writing? Who are your favorite poets?

My name is Joseph Altamore. I’m twenty years old. I currently reside in Rockford, IL. I am working on a small chapbook called Eyes, Ears, Teeth. I sing and play guitar in a rock band named Clem (www.facebook.com/ClemTheBand). I’ve been writing for a long time, I probably discovered my affinity for writing circa 2005. But I’ve only been writing poetry for about three short years! I originally began writing because of two friends (Mitchel Cleveland and Ellie Laesch) who were very into poetry at the time. Since then, it has sort of become just a thing I do naturally, something that happens almost automatically when I really get going. My favorite poets? Gosh, there are a lot of great writers out there. The ones that inspire me the most, however, are probably Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, and Dean Young. I also can dig some of Richard Siken’s work.

How do you first start writing a poem? Does it come to you out of the blue, or do you have a set time where you meet with your Muse each day and let the words just … come? Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poetry?

I usually just start typing words that correspond to an emotion or idea that I have. I definitely think writing is a choice. I don’t like to wait until I feel inspired to write something. I’ll write poems almost anywhere, from trains to bathrooms, even restaurants are subject to my verse scribbling. Initially, I thought of poetry as something that had structure and rhyme. But after I started writing I realized that some of the best poetry didn’t rhyme at all. This really freed me up and showed me poetry in its rawest form, without being circumscribed by any pattern or structure. I still see that kind of poetry as the purest form of self expression a writer can have.

Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?

Yes, I am on Facebook and it has affected my writing life very positively. For instance, you and I are friends on it! That’s how you contacted me about this interview! I also have a Tumblr at triedmybestyouknow.tumblr.com

Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?

Yes, I have a sort of community that I share with occasionally over Facebook called “People That Write Poetry Sometimes And Are Also Poor.” I believe Jeremiah Walton is also on that page. There are a lot of us. Over two-thousand, I think. It’s aptly named. Right now I’m reading Dean Young’s Fall Higher! It’s a fantastic book of poetry and everyone should check it out.

What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?

Write a ton. Write a large volume of work. You’ll only improve as time goes on. In the meantime, make sure to send your work out to the farthest reaches of the internet. The idea is to get as many publications under your belt as possible. But that takes time. Be patient. Oh, and have a Tumblr or a website of some sort.