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.