Poet Interview #13 – Matthew A. Toll

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?

Ironically, I began my writing career as a self-professed “poetry hater”, focusing most of my time writing short fiction and failing several times at longer, what I thought at the time, were more ambitious pieces. I made the mistake of associating length with substance. I wasn’t shy about my disdain for poetry and all things associated with the idea of “poetry”: the romanticism, the emotionality, the sappiness factor, you get the picture.

What changed? At about twenty-two, twenty-three years old, simply put, I tried it out. I started reading as much as I could, introducing myself to Bukowski, Plath, Carver. As someone who’s struggled with substance problems, unhappiness, basically a perpetual state of discontent, it was relieving to see that there were indeed poets who felt that way as opposed to the stereotypical ideas I had about what poetry is. The poems started pouring out through the keyboard to the screen. They still do.

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?

Still trying to figure this one out myself. I just try to write something everyday and see what happens.

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

I’m on Facebook and Twitter for the general purpose of keeping up with some friends, people in my life that I don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis. Unfortunately, stupidly, I have virtually no presence as a writer on either of these sites. Something I’d like to change going forward as it only opens up the writing community to each other in a sharing, positive way.

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

More important to me, to my writing, than a writing group or a workshop is the community of people that I’m lucky enough to interact with on a daily basis, my friends. Some of them are writers, many of them are not—this is inconsequential, because they are all people, and they inspire me.

Currently, I’m reading a short little book by a comedian, James Inman, called “The Greyhound Diary”. It’s a slice of true Americana not easily found, from someone who’s lived it. Plus it’s one of the most hysterically funny books that nobody has read.

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

There is no muse out there just waiting to be tapped into, you have to actively seek it. Experience the world, meet people you love, meet people you hate, sleep outside, sleep in a hotel room that for one night costs as much as your month’s rent. Enjoy what you write, work for it, but enjoy it. Make it mean something to you.


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I am a dreamer, as well as a doer, who lives in the North Georgia mountains. I started my publishing journey August of 2013, have had moderate success, but my utmost passion is my "daytime" job, which is working with adults who are constantly striving to better their lives as they obtain the GED credential.

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