Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Duane Vorhees

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following poets, local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Duane Vorhees

According to Amazon Duane has been a scholar, professor, performer, actor, model, journalist (dish washer, truck driver, lifeguard, door-to-door salesman, labourer…), and poet. Now retired, he divides his time between Thailand and Ohio with his wife and son and finds that he has plenty of time to write and speculate while managing duanespoetree1.blogspot.com, a site devoted to literature and the other creative arts.

The Interview

What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?

Like others in my 6th grade class, I had to write poetry as a Christmas assignment. I think I wrote three, and two of them were published in the school paper. But I was a bit upset because one of my classmates had three accepted. It wasn’t that he had more, but that he misused “forlorn” so it would rhyme with “morn.”

Who introduced you to poetry?

Poetry was a bad blind date on many occasions. I never had a teacher who made me overcome my dislike of the subject. The one, partial, exception to that was a writer in residence at Bowling Green State University; he introduced me to a lot of avant-garde poets of the day, when concrete poetry was a fad. I didn’t much like the poets but they did widen my eyes to possibilities. A student in class brought in Leonard Cohen’s first album, beginning a love-hate relationship that still persists.

How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

I have never been aware of them, I guess because I’ve never been part of any poetry circle or coterie.

What is your daily writing routine?

I don’t have one. I wrote when “the spirit moves me.” When that happens I cannot NOT write.

What motivates you to write?

I used to write as a rule-breaking exercise. I would come across some teacher, critic, or writer who would dictate some sort of prohibition, and I would often try to see for myself if that were true. They were usually wrong. That developed into a less contrarian approach. I stumble organically upon some form or pattern, and then try to develop it into a consistent approach for that particular poem. This is poetry as puzzle solving or the solution of a problem in geometry.

What is your work ethic?

I’ve never been able to write a poem on schedule or with an end in mind. I’m always surprised about the way it develops. But once I get started I go at it tenaciously until the poem is finished — or I am. I can get pretty persnickety about it all, and typically I go through a lot of revisions. It’s an odd process, one that begins in inspiration and ends in perspiration.

How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

When I find myself being influenced by Cohen or cummings or the Henry Reed of “Naming of Parts” I know that it is time to stop what I’m doing and start over. I hope that I catch myself doing so in time.

Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I run a daily blog, duanespoetree.blogspot.com, which is philosophically an electronic open mic, and I admire all of the poets who are brave enough to expose themselves to the madding crowds.

Why do you write?

Why do birds fly?

What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Buy a pencil. And lots of erasers.

Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I just published a collection of poems, “Love’s Autobiography,” a truncated version of “The Many Loves of Duane Vorhees,” the skeleton framework of a novel or movie examining loves. The published part explores a youthful naïve relationship, a sex-and-insecurity fuelled romance, and a marriage/and/divorce. I’d like to publish the rest of the book, dealing with midlife-crisis pursuits, a late-blooming fling, a coming to grips with aging, depressing, and the love of death, and finally, against all odds, a relapse into a loving relationship. I also have a more experimental, less thematic, series of poems, and some translations from Korean and Chinese. I also want to rewrite my PhD dissertation on Immanuel Velikovsky and put him in his various milieus.
 

 

 

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