Hope everyone’s having an only moderately stressful week before Christmas. I made apple pie moonshine for pretty much everyone on my list, so I’m doing great. Anywho, this begins the late interview season, but we’ll have them all done by New Years (probably). First up, Bobby Steve Baker, who gave us the poem “Old Love Letters.”
Until next time, this is your faithful editor, wishing you a merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a crazy Kwanzaa, a tip top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan. (Something something solstice too).
How would you describe your work in 25 words or less?
I would have written a longer answer soon but I didn’t have time. (Poe, I think). I write about the larger issues of the human condition, love, death, sex, betrayal, loyalty, grieving, but I try to do it in a tone that may seem better fit to describing the opposite.
Tell me more about your poem “Old Love Letters.”
I flat out stole the idea for “Old Love Letters” from a friend of mine, Barney Cummings, a terrific singer-song writer in Toronto. I often find myself prompted by phrases and although the song goes a different direction than the poem
(I didn’t steal the words, or even the title) the poem got started with that phrase, I do that a lot. I am told my poems have a natural musicality and rereading them I see it but i am never aware of it at the time. BTW you would look a long time through my work before you found as many rhymes as in this poem, I don’t recall writing in rhyme on purpose, in fact if you asked me directly I would say I don’t like rhymed poetry and certainly don’t write it. So, poems go where they go, sometimes the poet is just along for the ride.
Who or what inspires you to write? As described above I write about people and their passions and fears, I do not write about politics or give social commentary. We have an amazingly rich arts scene here in Lexington, KY which surprises many people. I belong to a couple of writing groups but my first real inspiration to go deeper with my work was from Katerina Stoykova Klemer, who just won the Bulgarian national Book Award. She inspired me to get my MFA in Poetry at my advanced age (I started it at age 58).
What do you consider to be your greatest influences? My greatest influence remains my father even though he died over thirty years ago. He could recite hundred, maybe thousands of lines of poetry and often did at diner. As far as I know he did not write but that is a great pity.
Do you have a website or a blog for your writing? Coincidental that you ask, my wife has finally convinced me to open a web site and write a blog so that will be coming along in the next few months.
Any advice for fellow writers? First and foremost write what you like, I don’t care what critique groups say about a poem; if I like it then it’s a keeper. Beyond that the most important message I have for writers is to read as much as you can and as widely as you can especially but not limited to poetry. My writing habit is to write every day but I know some great poets who may go months without feeling the muse.
What are you currently working on? My new book of poetry and ekphrastic photography comes out in March, “This Crazy Urge To Live” put out by Linnet’s Wings, of course with the lag time in getting a book out I already have the next one ready to start sending around and so I am most hard at work on my third full length book inspired by my thirty five years as a surgeon.
Where can we read your work next?
I have work currently in the yearly Lummox Anthology, the fall editions of Avocet and in the Heartland Review, coming soon are poems in Cold Mountain Review, Stray Branch and Deep Water Literary Review. This may seem like a lot but to all you writers out there I have at least ten and often twenty rejections for every acceptance, so persevere.
Anything else you’d like to add? The one thing I have said that I think bears reiterating is read, read, read, read at least a hundred books for everyone you write. Thanks again Kevin and Bop Dead City (one of the best).