Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? At what age did you start writing? Who/what first inspired you to begin? Who are some your favorite writers and artists (past and/or contemporary)?
I was born Levi Joel Mericle on April 24, 1987, in Ottumwa, Iowa. I have lived in Tucumcari, New Mexico, since I was two years old. I grew up in the church, as both my parents were pastors. I have two older brothers (Christian, 41, and Luke, 32) and two younger sisters (Hannah, 24, and Rebekah, 22). Growing up with rapid mixed-cycling Bipolar Disorder was difficult. I was diagnosed at age thirteen, but have been able to pull through the hard times with my family’s encouragement and my ability to write.
I started writing small amounts of poetry at age sixteen and the passion soon followed. I was taking GED classes at our local community college and was inspired to pursue writing by my teacher Karen Jaramillo, who encouraged me to focus on poetry. She had an in-class assignment requiring all the students to write a poem. She was impressed by my piece and had me read it over our local radio station. This is what bolstered my confidence and drew me to pursue my writing career. I am deeply inspired by and echo the styles of poets such as Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, Sylvia Plath, Gary Sotto, Mark Dotty, Gwendolyn Brooks, and many others. I especially enjoy the metered form but have been writing free formed poetry more often as of late.
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 … flow?
There is no absolute routine I practice when writing my poetry. I usually have to get inspired to write a poem or song. That inspiration can come from any task I’m doing, from listening to music or reading a book to making my bed or cleaning the house. I find I write my best poems when they are not forced but flow naturally.
What does poetry mean to you, and has your idea of what it represents changed over the course of time? Where do you see it going in the future?
To me, poetry is not just a hobby but is my way of life. When I’m cooking or taking a shower, I’m thinking of writing. If I’m depressed, I find I write some of my best poems. And, when I’m feeling happy and full of life, I seem to write the perfect love poem or song. Poetry makes me believe in tomorrow and rejuvenates my expectations for the future. When I was younger, my idea of being a professional writer was kind of a longshot, but now that I’m thirty and have been steadily getting published and receiving recognition for the past three years, I’m realizing it’s becoming a reality. I’m hoping I keep improving my writing skills and steadily gaining more recognition and credibility as time goes on.
Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I am on both Facebook and Twitter as well as Instagram. I do have quite a few contacts as I try to maintain a connection between the social media sites and my contacts.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
I mostly share my writings with my writing class at our local college. We usually do in-class writing assignments and then we’re able to share our new or past works. I try not to share very much of my writings on social media, such as Facebook, unless they’ve been previously published. I found most literary magazines or journals don’t accept previously published material, even if it’s on Facebook or other social media.
As 2017 continues rolling along, what are your expectations for the year ahead? Do you have any new projects in the works that you’re particularly excited about?
All I really want is to is keep getting acceptances to further fill my resumé. I have several illnesses which restrain me from doing many live performances. Although my passion is to perform in front of crowds, I’ve learned to embrace my disabilities and found that I can still do amazing things via my laptop.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Never give up. I probably receive 50 rejection letters for every 10 acceptances I get. It took a long time (probably two or three years) to receive my first acceptance letter. You need to have tough skin if you want to persevere in the literary world. Don’t get discouraged, keep doing what you love, and let that show through your writing. Be strong and let your writing be powerful!