Today’s interview is with Isaac Black, who contributed “Objects in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear” to Issue 6. He’s achieved more than I ever will and this makes me sad.
Describe your poetry in 25 words or less.
Thought-provoking and enthralling, I hope. One undying theme
is that life is a Pandora’s box re: love, relationships, making it,
failing. Can we cope? How?
Tell us about your poem “Objects.”
Well, for years I worked as a social worker, was an assistant Director
at a group home, counseled at the infamous Spofford in the Bronx.
Over time I dialoged with “characters” in jail and/or on the streets.
“Objects” took me backwards, away from my usual romantic and magical poems.
What or who inspires you to write?
My parents say I was born “a Dali,” doodling, drawing, my crayons
and brushes in every corner. I went on to art schools, got a BFA in
Fine Arts, even painted at Columbia. But early on, I was also writing in
pads, stories with pictures. I always felt imaginative, and knew I’d
be an artist and/or writer down the road.
What authors have influenced you as a writer?
My major influence has been poet Robert Hayden. Overall, I think his work is masterful, and I can honestly say he taught me the most as a poet. I wrote my MFA thesis on him while at Vermont College (MFA), by the way. Also the Black Arts period (when I was publishing in most of the black journals), had major impact on me. I studied the *giants* during those years (Harper, Brooks, Lorde, to name a few), including the poets closer to my age who are now considered major. I could say far more, but I also have to give high-fives to my MFA advisors, Mark Doty, the late Jack Meyers, and Roger Weingarden who were very helpful, and widened my vision and insights.
Where can we read you next?
A number of poems are scheduled, but a recent poem I like appeared in
Do you keep a blog/website?
Yes. I am the founder of a major 501 (c) college help organization, and have
a website (www.BlackExcel.org
). But my poet’s gateway will be going up in early 2014. There I’ll tell my story, how I went on a decades long hiatus after winning top poetry fellowships and other awards. I was helping thousands of college students across the nation.
What are you reading right now?
I’m playing catch-up. Poetry books and journals are stacked high. Right now, I’m reading/rereading books by Charles Harper Webb, Natasha Trethewey, Terrence Hayes, among others.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I’ve heard writers say, read, read, read, which always makes me smile. If you’re a serious poet/writer you already know that. I’d go deeper, if I was sitting with you and I was asked.
What are you working on right now? Editing “Hourglass,” a long overdue first poetry collection. Anything else you’d like to say? Just smiling. Many from the past who remember my work, might’ve thought I was in a urn or six feet under. Not so, obviously. Stay-tuned, please.