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 single 40 year old male. I spend my time in college pursuing a Master’s degree, with a minor focus on Creative Writing. I learned at a young age the connection between music, lyrics, and girls. I used to quote song lyrics while I was on the phone with girls and act like I wrote them. The girls loved it. So I recognized the power of words at a young age. That was around 8-9 years old. Then I started writing my own lyrics and poems. Every time I would like a girl, I would write her a poem. Back then there was no technology like today, so we wrote lots of love letters back and forth. “Check this box if you like me?” It was then I started writing my own poems.
Also, the movie “The Outsiders” was a big influence on my life. That was the first poem I loved and memorized. When Ponyboy recited the Robert Frost poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” I fell in love with it. I think that was the first time poetry grabbed me. A few years later another huge movie was “The Doors.” Jim Morrison became my new idol. His words changed my life. I went out and bought all his poetry books. I couldn’t really understand all of them, but I was hooked. Not long after that movie I enrolled in a creative writing class. While other boys were in shop or playing sports I was writing poetry. From then on I considered myself a writer and a poet. Later that year, (1991-92) our school published an art/poetry Anthology. I had the most poems published in it, with five. Also, I have always kept a journal, or diary. I’ve never really found anyone who I can talk to honestly, so my notebook became my best friend.
Nowadays my favorite poet would have to be Charles Bukowski. No one’s writing moves me the way his poems do. There is no fluff in his words. He gets straight to the point, and I like that. Others writing influences are: Dr Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs and the Beat Poets, Jim Carroll, Chuck Palahniuk, and Irvine Welsh, and the list goes on and on…(I am also a bit of a book collector.)
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?
Normally something triggers me. I hear something or read something and there is an urge to write something down. Before phone technology I would carry a small pad and pen on me wherever I went, just in case I needed to write something down. My thoughts and feelings are at the core of my poetry style. I try to keep it as minimal as possible. Most of the time writing is just a coping mechanism. It’s a way to keep me from going over the edge in this mad world.
You began editing and publishing your own site earlier this year. How has working with other poets’ words at Stay Weird and Keep Writing, Inc. impacted your own work, if at all? What are you generally looking for in submissions that get sent your way?
Working with other’s words does not affect me. I really don’t analyze or judge the work I publish. That’s not my job. My job is just to have an outlet where folks can get their work out there. My goal is to try and get as many people as possible to read other’s writings. Then they can judge it if they feel they need to. But generally I look for something weird and fresh.
You’ve also published a few handmade chapbooks and broadsides recently. Do you plan on continuing to expand in this way? What are your future intentions for the site?
Yes, I have published a few chapbooks and I hope to publish more. “Stay Weird and Keep Writing” is a non-profit independent Publishing Company. I’m not in it to make money. I’m in it to spread the word. Normally I get a manic wild hair up my ass and go off and start creating someone a chapbook. Sometimes because I love their words, and other times out of sheer boredom. But it’s fun for me, and hopefully it makes people smile.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how? Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they?
Back towards the end of 2014 I was searching for a place I could share my weirdness and meet like-minded people. So I created the Facebook group “Notes From The Edge: Inspired by Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo, Bukowski, & The Beats!” Since then I have created the “Stay Weird and Keep Writing” Facebook page and group. At these places we share our own writings and enjoy the weirdness that is in all of us. We let our freak flag fly there. Everyone is welcome.
I’m weird. I live in the Midwest where being weird is not really accepted. So I got online and started meeting other weird people like me and I found us a home. The folks in these Facebook groups are my family. Without them I would be lost. It is my social support group and I love them all. They are weird, just like me.
What are you reading right now?
I’m in the middle of reading a few books. Too many to name. But just to list a few: Bukowski, Jim Carroll, Chopper Read, Ben Sessa, Kerouac, Tom Wolfe, and many others. I keep books everywhere I go, so I’m always reading 10-20 books at once.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
Not sure how much advice I can give. I’m still searching for my own way. But: Write every day. Write, edit, write, edit. Read. Read everything you can. I would follow Hemingway’s wisdom. “Write the Truest sentence that you know.”
And the most important thing of all… STAY WEIRD AND KEEP WRITING!!!!