Poet Interview #23 – Michael Nemchick

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 wrote two unfinished fantasy novels when I was a child. Both only had one chapter and were terribly written and wholly misguided. Poetry kicked in about 15-17 years later. Suffice to say, I was always interested in writing. I am sure most people haven’t a clue when or where or who inspired them to start writing. The act is just so natural to those who do it, I figure stopping to think about it doesn’t come up much. Despite that belief, I do–think about it. The ignition of it all started with a girl. Her name is short and stuffed into much of my poetry. Every piece was about her at the start. Anger towards her, turned its head, focusing on another like her, then right back at me in the end. It was misguided but beautiful in its way. 2015 was a year full of surprises. I went from not writing at all, to doing so feverishly every week. Poets I like? I wish I read more like I wish I exercised at least once a week. My tendency is to read less and write only slightly more. That said, I have read and admired a few poets in my life worth mentioning. There are poems by W.H. Auden and E.E. Cummings that move me beyond mention. Their catalogues of work elude me, however. The only bodies of work I know well and admire just as much are, Leonard Cohen, Charles Bukowski, and James Croal Jackson. The later, I am happy to call a friend.

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?

Poems are very specific to me. They first came from an uncontrollable feeling of pain and regret that threatened to eat me up if I did not purge it all out. They still often come from pain. It is just one of those things in life you have to accept. Art is beautiful and defining, but so is the pain. It uplifts you to be able to write something down. Otherwise, for me at least, I would just rush around trying to forget. The writing does not come regularly, but when an idea pops up, it flows like a river. It has to or the poem is not worth much. It has to be relatively immediate. I came to poetry very naturally. Anger turned into words; those words evolved and became varied. Poetry, I think, will always be the same to me: an outlet for my thoughts. It allows for the recording of an exact moment of experience. That is a powerful thing which more people should take advantage of. Pictures are great, but a good poem does more for me going forward.

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 and Instagram (@mpnjr). It’s funny. I find them both ridiculous and fascinating at the same time. Neither have anything to do with my writing, but much of that is because I am still very new to the world of published words. These platforms have their merits and writers should use them. If used correctly, they can help institute change. I’ve yet to investigate such. In the meantime, they are great shortcuts into the minds of our favorite celebrities!

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

My only long term colleague in the realm of poetry has been James Croal Jackson. He is a great poet and friend I’ve known for years now. He lives in Ohio, but once resided in Los Angeles. In that time, we often lived with each other. His opinion is the only one that matters much in regards to my writing. Trust is hard to come by and should be cherished. Communities in the art world always leave me skeptical. It is so personal and singular. I do not condemn anything, though, and I would be willing to join something approaching a community of poetry in the future. I usually keep to myself, though.

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

Find some equality in the caring and not caring part of your brain. Write, not considering who will like it–just make sure you do it. Then, also, care enough to send those words out to others interested enough to read them. Whether it be to a friend or a magazine or a literature journal; just make sure to do it. When you feel completely dejected and unfulfilled, some kind of hope may be waiting around the corner. I know what I know and what I know proves this right most of the time.

  • photo taken by Jennifer Song

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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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