Poet Interview #24 – John Grey

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 started writing as soon as I learned to read, typically in all the blank border spaces of the book. So that was somewhere around the 5 or 6 mark. It wasn’t until my teenage years however that I produced anything both legible and not too embarrassing. Certainly reading and solitude were my first inspirations. And I always did have a busy imagination.
Most of my early writing was poetry and also songs (pre owning a musical instrument) with the melodies carried around in my head.
As for personal favorites, just like most of us always return to the songs of our youth, I’m that way with poets. So it’s the dead white male brigade from my school days such as Coleridge, Poe and Blake that are my cornerstones.
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?
Now that I’m in a position where I can be a fulltime writer, I write and perform all the other tasks associated typically between seven in the morning to seven at night weekdays with the usual coffee breaks in between. Not just poetry but also short stories and I’ve even been working on a novel. I write pretty much exclusively in my study where I am surrounded by a fascinating array of books, magazines, music, etc. I am at the point now when just about any line I read or picture I look at can trigger a poem even if the end product has nothing to do with its initial inspiration. And, thankfully, with a little prodding here and there, the words do just come.
Regarding the last question, I try to stay away from definitions of poetry. I’ve read too many magazine and poetry site manifestos and guidelines that attempt to define poetry and, in doing so, eliminate about 95% of the stuff that’s been written and continues to be written.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
Social media and I are not a good fit. I do have a Facebook account but I don’t really have time or inclination to post on it. I appreciate that it is a good way to keep up with what friends and family are doing. And I do do that at least.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
I have belonged to writing groups in the past but, these days, I prefer to fly solo.
Much of what used to be reading time is now writing time but I do continue to have at least one work of fiction and non-fiction going at the same time. Right now, I’m reading Washington Irving’s Sketchbook and a reprint of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon comic strip from the 1940’s.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Believe in what you’re doing and develop a thick skin.

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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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