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 in my mid-teens and was inspired by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner. Their novels and short stories were the catalyst for all sorts of unfortunately horrendous attempts by me to emulate their work. After surfacing in the small press journals — at a much later age as both mag editor and self-publisher of my first novel, Among a Godly Few — I began writing poetry in a seriously earnest fashion and sending it to other small press mags in my literary (or avant-garde literary) orbit, long before computers and the internet created the digital revolution that prevails in publishing circles today. Charles Bukowski was the luminous leader for most of us back in the mid-80s, when I started my own lit-arts ‘zine, ART:MAG, which runs to this day and has featured poets like James Purdy (whose poetry was off beat and avant-garde, though certainly not of the ilk popular on our democratic side of things), also a renowned novelist. He got me to thinking, reading, and studying a multitude of well-known academic poets, along with the rogue rebels of our own scene like Alan Catlin, Lyn Lifshin, Ron Androla, Merritt Clifton, and countless others who brought the working class ethos to the forefront of our obsessions.
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?
Poetry has become tougher for me to write through the eons since I’ve learned to basically semi-revise my work (while editing the work of others sometimes) into hopefully improved states. I need somehow to spinal tap into my unconscious well of creative impetus to get a poem going from nowhere. This impetus can be a catchy opening line that’s been running rampant in my head, or any material item in the outside world like a photo or person bearing some undefined emotional attachment for me that writing the poem brings out the latent meaning(s) for. It’s also like a pell-mell plummet into whatever unknown forces which the unconscious mind holds power over us and must be freed. This writer’s voyage using words for oars is sometimes just a fragmentary one that later I’ll try and piece together into finalization with more consciously intellectual and comprehensible facets of one’s literary resources. It’s a difficult process that either pays off or doesn’t but holds mystery for me, and I enjoy discovering any revealed secrets both in the craft and in my own personal psychic wellsprings.
If poetry’s changed much since I started writing and reading it, it’s probably how the voices of ordinary everyday language and prosaic forms influenced it.
Are you on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media? Does that fit into your writing life, and if so, how?
I have an old My Space page filled with my artwork but I’m not into social media, the possible bane of wheezy minds like Donald Trump’s. I did write some small press stuff on my My Space blog before this outlet revamped itself and became less accessible in some ways.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with? Who are they? What are you reading right now?
The only writing group I belong to is the unofficial one comprising indie publications, writers, artists, and poets everywhere. The writers I share my work and ideas with have chiefly been the ones I’ve published in my little ART:MAG; some are “big names” and some are “smaller names” as regards their notoriety and literary achievements in more mainstream literature (like James Purdy, Rachel Resnick, Kim Addonizio) or more gonzo small press luminaries (like Alan Catlin, T. Kilgore Splake, Cheryl A. Townsend, et al). I’ve learned much from all of them and continue to.
Lately I’ve read many poets on the internet webzines, and also horror and sci-fi obscure novels found on the Gutenberg web site. A Crystal Age by W.H. Hudson is one deserving of greater recognition whose ideas have crept into my own scribbling I’m sure.
What words of encouragement can you offer other poets who are trying to get their work noticed?
I would tell other poets seeking to seriously write poetry: “Grind it out! Hang tough, read and write, familiarize yourself with all types of poetry and forge your own way through your influences. Then write like your life really depends on it.”