Poet Interview #22 – John Bizarre

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’m a stand-up comedian, a filmmaker, a pastry chef, a rickshaw driver and probably an incurable malcontent. I started writing in ninth grade when Mrs. Burnhart determined I was reading at a seventh grade level and forced me to start reading two books a month and write out full book reports on them. Although I resented her at the time, she changed my life. God bless her. Pretty quickly I found Hunter S. Thompson, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, then fell into Maya Angelou, Henrik Ibsen and Oscar Wilde

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?

Usually I land at the keyboard out of anger. Then once that has been worked through, other inspirations take over. My mother used to write as a form of therapy and I believe that’s a great method of laying down the skeleton of a piece. Rewriting is what turns it into art. Finding the right word is everything.

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

The formats of Facebook and Twitter do not inspire the creation of art. They both encourage the devolution of language and a celebration of the unremarkable. To unplug from the electronic social media matrix and connect with others directly is to rediscover the beauty of the human bond.

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

A friend of mine and I have been writing letters to each other for over 20 years. I highly recommend it. There is something magical about opening an envelope and reading a letter that someone took the time to write, seal, stamp and send. It’s also fun to use a fountain pen with an ink well along with finely textured sheets of paper. Most recently I read Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.

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

To that question I would say focus less on getting noticed and more on creating a body of work that you are proud of. Examine every sentence and make sure you have chosen the right words to convey exactly what you want to say. Remember Cyrano de Bergerac when he refuses money for one of his poems because the buyer wants to change a word or two – “When I have made a line that sings itself, so that I love the sound of it, I pay myself a hundred times.”


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Scott Thomas Outlar hosts the site 17Numa.wordpress.com where links to his published poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, reviews, and books can be found. He is a Best of the Net and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Scott's poetry books include: Songs of a Dissident (Transcendent Zero Press, 2015), Chaos Songs (Weasel Press, 2016), Happy Hour Hallelujah (CTU Publishing, 2016), and Poison in Paradise (Alien Buddha Press, 2017). Scott is a member of The Southern Collective Experience; he also serves as an editor for Walking Is Still Honest Press, The Blue Mountain Review, The Peregrine Muse, and Novelmasters.

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