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.
is described on his Amazon site as “a writer, nurse and Navy sailor from Erie, Pa. He has published several books of poetry including A Clock of Human Bones (Yellowchair Review), Ghost Train (Weasel Publishing), Sleepless Nights and Ghost Soldiers (Grey Boarders), Battle Lines and The Smallest Coffins are the Heaviest (Epic Rites Press), and Code 3 (Alien Buddha Press). He received the Emerging Artist Grant in Erie and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize and a Best of the Net prize for poetry in 2016. Matt is married with four children.”
1. What were the circumstances under which you began to write poetry?
I started writing in grade school and poetry in high school, started with song lyrics and grew as I started reading poetry.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
My twin brother, he has been writing since maybe the second grade. He was the first person who ever gave me a book of poetry to read not as a school assignment.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Not really at all at first. But by high school I was aware of the major players. A local university brought in 6 Pulitzer Prize winning poets over the course of an academic year. I heard Gwendolyn Brooks , Galway Kinnell, and others. It was an eye opener. I was always more into contemporary poets, the old guard classics never moved me.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I usually write in my car in the morning as I wait for my kids to come out so I can take them to school. I revise it over the course of the day in my head and usually rewrite it into my saved file in the evening.
5. What motivates you to write?
Currently I am writing as a form of therapy for my secondary PTSD from my time in Afghanistan. I had not written a poem in years and I had not planned on starting again. I was really struggling with nightmares and depression and a ton of hostility. How this turned into poetry I am not always sure of. I was not able to say it plain enough in my art anywhere else so I needed a direct and simple way to say out loud a lot of what I was and still am carrying.
6. What is your work ethic?
I like to work 5 days a week, I try to take the week end off unless the poem just decided it needs to be written, which does happen sometimes. I write even when I do not have a poem in my head. I am not above forcing the words to keep my discipline intact. As a result of this I write a lot of bad poetry that never sees the light of day. That is ok with me I am a big believer in practice and repetition as a way to get down to what I am really hoping to say.
7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
I still enjoy some of their work, but to be honest I am way more influenced by my peers and really it is they who motivate me now.
8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I actually belong to at least 6 writing groups and the list of poets I admire is really long. Too long for this short article, but why I love the work I do is because the current small press scene is more alive now than at any time in history! The internet has made it way more possible to get your words out to an audience, and the work is alive and sometimes angry and vital and not always politically correct and strange and gritty and just freaking wonderful!! I believe poetry has probably never been more alive than right now, it just isn’t a money maker so not everyone notices, but as a reader of small press poets I am constantly amazed by what powerful stuff is getting done.
9. Why do you write?
I write to try to put the ghosts away; I needed a way to look at some of the things I had been running away from. I was not doing well with therapy which is something I continue to try from time to time. But the act of acknowledging my PTSD and putting my head into its mouth every day sort of lets me take it and use the awful feelings for something and that helps me to put it down for the rest of the day. This does not work every time, but it works often enough to be the only thing that I believe helps.
10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
I say read a lot and write a lot, work at your craft and do not settle until you are getting exactly what you want to say in the way you want to say it. It takes a life time but it is worth it.
11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I am always just working on the next poem. I have 2 completed manuscripts sitting on editors desks so I hope they will see print in 2019. I am also working on a collection of my flash fiction I hope to try to convince someone to publish, though the stories are a lot harder than the poems for me to write.