Here’s Terry Allen, author of “We Sat on the Fantail and Talked Quietly,” giving some really thoughtful and useful answers to my questions.
Describe your writing in 25 words or less.
I like to tell stories, hopefully with a sense of empathy and humor.
Tell us about your poem “We Stood on the Fantail and Talked Quietly.”
During the summer of 1967, before my senior year in college, I worked on Lake Michigan where I spent three months crossing between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin with only three half-days off the ship. At the time, I just knew that if a pterodactyl flew over my hometown of Kansas City, that I’d be the last to know.
Who or what inspires you to write?
I’m most influenced by film and have been my entire life, even when writing or directing stage plays or most recently turning to poetry.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll and Mark Twain would be high on my list, as well as modern noirish writers like James Lee Burke and Stuart Neville. Screenwriters would include Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, John Huston, Ingmar Bergman and Woody Allen. For poetry, there are none better than Ron Koertge and Louis Jenkins.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a piece about a Civil War reenactor whose specialty is dying on the battlefield. He likes getting killed early and spending plenty of time bloating, which in my poem turns his mind to thoughts about Ambrose Bierce.
Where can we read your work next?
I have a poem appearing in I-70 Review later this month. It’s one of my personal favorites: “You Can’t Change the Past.”
Do you have any advice for fellow writers?
Experiment with point of view. I never automatically believe that the narrator in a piece of prose fiction or the persona in a poem is the writer. It’s fun and often rewarding to pick someone who is very far removed from ourselves to tell the story.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Don’t be surprised that what goes in is what comes out. What we listen to, what we see, what we read, what we experience will come out when we sit down to write. So, why not make those experience varied and rich.