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.

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