Posted in Love Poetry, Spiritual Poetry

Spiral Galaxy Arms 🌌 (poem)

Your spiral galaxy arms hold me
like crust encapsulates Earth’s core,
and suddenly, I remember
the trillions of stars that I am.

Advertisements
Posted in Promoting Books, Promoting Poets & Artists

📖INTERVIEW: “Destruction: Text I” by Oliver Sheppard📖

featherpen.jpgIn the tradition of William Blake, Milton, and the Romantics, poet and author Oliver Sheppard presents a vision in verse of cosmic apocalypse and the total “breakdown of galaxies, stars …sensibility, perception, and logic.” With nightmarish flourishes, the reader is offered visions of the Archangel Israfel “cauterizing the sky like an open wound” against a backdrop of universal collapse and destruction. Included in this collection are also various experiments with language and form, as well as selections from other works, including Persephone Enthroned, a retelling of the ancient Greek myth about the Queen of the Underworld. In Destruction: Text I, Oliver Sheppard announces a dark vision of a nightmare reality coming apart at the seams.



Hello, Oliver! I’m definitely excited to dive deep into the world of Destruction: Text I. But first thing’s first. How and when did your passion for poetry (especially poetry with darker elements) come to be?

Poetry, probably age 11 or so. (Prose, much earlier, probably age 6 or 7.) My mom read to me a lot when I was very young, and a lot of children’s books were written in rhyme (Dr Seuss, etc) so I had been exposed to poetry on some level probably since birth. But my aunt had a very nice hardbound edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination from the Franklin Library of Mystery Masterpieces, with the darkly gorgeous Harry Clarke illustrations, and I found that at about age 11. There was no poetry in that volume but it led me to actively seek out the mysterious author’s poetical works, which I hoped would be just as morbid and good. I tried my own young hand at badly imitative verse shortly thereafter, doggerel about crypts and ghouls. (Thankfully such early attempts were long ago destroyed!) Then I discovered Andre Breton somehow by age 13, and got special permission to do a book report on him at school. The teacher didn’t know who he was, but she let me do it. I must have read about Poe’s connection to surrealism, and that led me to surrealism’s ideological leader, Breton, I guess. Anyway, reading Breton’s verse challenged my idea of what a poem was “supposed” to be, or what it could be. Most of my poetry is not Surrealist at all, ironically, but finding Poe and Surrealism liberated my imagination at that age, it started me on a chain of other literary discoveries, and I’d even say it helped lead me to a different outlook on the world in general.

edgarallanpoe.jpgDid you just say Edgar Allan Poe? 😀 Anyway, what would you say your creative spark was for this shadowy fire in the form of this poetry collection?

Destruction: Text I is a book I wish had published a decade ago. I guess the book is what used to be called analects or a florilegium — a collection of literary extracts. Except in this case the extracts are from my own as-yet unpublished manuscripts that I’ve had laying around for awhile. I have no shortage of ideas; my problem, as a writer, comes in seeing an idea through to its completion from its initial execution and on through revisions, editing, sustaining interest, and the like. Life stressors have had a way of inserting themselves in such a way that they’ve often interrupted what I’m up to. Money worries, relationship problems, family deaths, terrible depression, financial stress, crippling self-doubt, maybe my own lack of self-discpline — these are all things that just derail me completely. So, Destruction: Text I is actually an anthology of my own verse, stuff I’ve been hammering away at for some time, but in the book various projects have been organized into different sections. The first section of the book is from “The Apocalypse of Man,” a long poem I’ve worked on here and there over the years. There’s another section called “Persephone in Dis” that is from a similarly planned work about the Persephone/Kore myth, something that’s fascinated me since my late teens. “Functional Forms” is a section in the book that’s more postmodern in tone, featuring experimental poetry. The section called “Destruction” is filled with more personal verse.

I’m definitely deeply fascinated.  Although the inspiration did stem from some hardship, I feel like life’s yin has a way of briging an unwavering sense of strength into our lives. What is the most common motif in your book and why did you select it?

The thematic glue that holds it all together is the idea of destruction. (Destruction is a thematic touchstone that recurs in what I write even outside of poetry.) It’s all mostly about collapse, the process of collapse, and what’s left over after the destructive process ends, whether it’s literal cosmic immolation, as in “The Apocalypse of Man,” or turmoil, separation, etc. in interpersonal relationships, as in the poem “December Elegy.” Uncertainty and instability — and collapse brought about due to instability (either in the physical universe, or in human relations) — are constant themes that reassert themselves throughout the book.

Through destruction, there is room to construct new things. I really do love this motif. What poets, artists, and/or creative minds influence your writing the most?

The poets associated with the Romanticist tradition, from Blake to Shelley, Byron and Poe — represent a kind of high watermark of poetry in the English language to me, and I feel they weigh most heavily on my own ideas about writing verse. The period from about 1780 until late into the 1920s, starting with Blake and ending with figures like Clark Ashton Smith and George Sterling, about a 150 year period — that was just an incredible time for poetry in English, to me. Those poets stuck zealously to form — they cared about meter, traditional rhyme schemes, stresses on syllables, and everything that comes with the stuffy old bits of poetic scansion that few poets pay any mind to these days. But they imbued their works with incredible imagery and emotional impact nonetheless, and in fact the strict adherence to form I think really helped them along in that regard, and it’s why I often try to stick to some sort of format as well. It’s a lost art. I think the sonnet may be the perfect poetic format; when I finish a sonnet I feel incredibly satisfied in a way I do not when writing other forms of verse. There are three sonnets in the book.

Myself, it was the aforementioned discovery of Poe at around age 11 that really did it for me as far as influences go. And the English translations of the Contintental Romanticists (like Goethe) and, later, the Symbolists and Decadents that I began discovering in my late teens — that all had a massive influence on me. Baudelaire, who is about on the same level for me as Poe, was a revelation. So were the other Symbolists and Decadents of the 19th century and fin-de-siecle period: Paul Verlaine, Stephane Mallarme, Maurice Rollinat, Georges Rodenbach. A lot of 19th century and early 20th century decadent poetry from Russia, Germany, Belgium, and France has influenced me. The Dedalus Books anthologies, where they go country by country through Europe and anthologize a lot of the best Decadent and Symbolist fiction from there — those collections are great, and have been a great source of inspiration. I’d love to be able to read a lot of these poets in their original language, but time may be working against me on that one. Just writing this, I want to add even more names! I love the English language, and I feel like great poetry explores the outer limits and possibilities latent in language that can’t be expressed in prose. Poetry can open up new doorways to perception and insight, like a psychedelic drug. But without the drug.

As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy more the poetry (and art) of William Blake, as well as the apocalyptic and “big picture” poets in general: John Milton; Dante; Hesiod, the old Greek world-builder and visionary; the _Astronomicon_ of Marcus Manilius (supposedly it was from Manilius’ _Astronomicon_ where HP Lovecraft got the idea of the Necronomicon). I use a quote from the Astronomicon as a preface in my book:

Men die by numbers, and by heaps they fall,
And mighty cities make one Funeral.
On groaning Piles whole huddled Nations burn,
And Towns lie blended in one common urn.

The poets that took a sweeping, cosmic, and doomy look at the world, poets that saw the world hovering in the shadow of final destruction or who saw it teetering precariously on the edge of nothingness/meaninglessness. End-of-the-world visionaries, doomsayer heralds. There’s a great nonfiction book by Morton Paley called _Apocalypse and Millenium in English Romantic Poetry_ that covers a lof of these bases and which, in its own way, has exerted an influence on me. Even the Book of Revelation has had an influence, though I’m an atheist. Other apocalypses, medieval grimoires, and apocryphal religious texts have held a fascination for me.

Lastly, well-written prose influences my poetry. Books like John Hawkes’s _The Cannibal_, Cormac McCarthy’s _Blood Meridian_, Carl Jung’s _The Red Book_, even Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish have wormed their way into my subconscious. Georges Bataille. Alejandra Pizarnik from Argentina, who is incredible. Kathy Acker. Kathe Koja. The poet Aime Cesaire. Some of the better writers from the horror tradition, like Thomas Ligotti or Clark Ashton Smith. I like “purple,” gothic, and ornamental prose that’s done well. The so-called “Graveyard Poets” of the 1700s that prefigured Romanticism have influenced me (Thomas Parnell’s “Night-Piece on Death,” for one). The imagery and atmosphere of silent film influences me. I’d even say Clive Barker has influenced me. Some music, like Rudimentary Peni or Current 93 or Killing Joke. I have some friends in bands, like World Burns to Death, that influence me. Cats influence me.

So many wonderful influences! How can one not be completely and utterly inspired? Onwards to the next question… What are some of the current developments in poetry you’ve noticed and how do you feel Destruction: Text I fits into these?

The Instagram poets have lately exerted an odd influence on me, but often they come across as epigraph writers or like they are writing excerpts from poems rather than fully realized works. I’m talking about the poets, mainly in their twenties, who will type out very short bursts of verse on an old typewriter, sign it, and then take a photo of it on their phone and post it to Instagram and/or other social media, and a few have made tens of thousands of dollars doing this (Book deals and the like.) It’s an interesting new development in the history of poetry. It seems as visual as it is literary: photos of poems. They’re obsessed with nostalgia for analog typewriters and heavy-weight cotton or linen typing paper that isn’t actually used much any more, a kind of parallel to the vinyl renaissance and all-things-analog in music. It almost seems like a way of cheating to lend a poem some gravitas it might not otherwise have. But unlike old poetry, the poems in this case are often incredibly short. They’re like what seems, to me, an epigraph at the beginning of a book of prose. I feel like maybe the writers doing the Instagram poetry thing grew up on Tumblr and Pinterest and saw shared jpegs or memes of literary quotes, and they think the quote on the jpeg is the entirety of the brilliance of the quoted work, so why not just write a brief excerpt like that, since that is what is shared and enjoyed on the web anyway? Except that “excerpt” is the whole thing! So some of this has influenced in me, in a way, and I’m curious to see where that trend goes, even if sometimes it seems like it’s more about the cult of personality regarding the writer as a stand-out character on the internet rather than the quality or content of the literary work. Sort of like being into Mozart as a personality but not being able to tell anyone what “Eine Kleine Nachtmusick” is — or loving the Cramps but not owning a single album or being able to tell you anything about the content or background of their songs. Superficial and vain.

The Instagram poets fire off photogenic bits of verse, usually only a few lines… Well, maybe I am jealous because I wish I could distill my thoughts so succinctly. It’s poetry for the Twitter and ADHD generation, that’s for sure. But is that a bad thing? Maybe not! At least it’s given a new generation of poets a unique voice. Even the haiku I’ve written tends to be grouped together along a common theme through which I find successive haikus necessary. (There’s a brief section of haiku in Destruction: Text I). Other than that, the “Functional Forms” section of Destruction: Text I is the most “modern” (PoMo?) of the verse in the book, inspired in some part by the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E movement of poets, especially by the poems of Bruce Andrews and others in that circle.

I certainly don’t see it as a bad thing. The world of poetry is ever-evolving, and that’s really inspirational–even if one doesn’t agree with some of the expression. So, are there any other projects on the horizon for you?

I’m finishing up my second collection of verse, Thirteen Nocturnes, which will be out any day now. That will be out via Ikonograph Press. Then, no more poetry books from me for awhile, and on to other projects I’ve had on the backburner. Namely, a nonfiction work about silent film vamp Theda Bara that I’ve been working on for about a year. I’ve uncovered a lot of original research about her that I’ve not seen in any book-length biography, and there is in fact a lot about her floating around in the current literature that is incorrect! (Sometimes from writers that ought to know better!) I’d like that book to be released by a publisher other than Ikonograph, as I intend to pack it with graphics from Bara’s heyday and make it a fun read. And there’s a horror novel that’s been twisting away in the inky black murk of my head for some time now. I want to get the full edition of my long poem The Apocalypse of Man out in its own book before 2019, but we’ll see if that actually happens. It needs a lot of work, yet.

oliversheppardauthorphoto.jpgExcellent! Are there any concluding thoughts you’d like to leave everyone with?

If you want to write, find the time to do it, even if it means feeling selfish or like you are letting other things go neglected. If you don’t find a publisher, take a cue from the DIY and punk movements and become your own publisher. Stand up for what you believe in; don’t let others push you around or define you. You deserve to express yourself and have an impact on the world. The annals of literature do not care about those who had good excuses not to write. There are no sections in literary anthologies about people “who could have done that” but didn’t, or “could do it much better,” but also didn’t. You’ll get criticism, and if it’s well-intended, take it thoughtfully, but slog on like an iron-plated, cold-blooded, steely-willed Nietzschean battleship through rough waters regardless, and don’t stop. Unexpected opportunities will begin to present themselves.

Wow, what an insightful conversation this has been, and these concluded words are very empowering. Thank you for taking the time to have the interview with me. I really appreciate your celebration of the beautifully dark elements in this life.

Thanks so much for having me here. And congratulations on almost 8 years at Poehemian Press! That’s a hell of an accomplishment!

Thank you. I can’t believe it’s been nearly a decade! 🙂


destructioncover.png

Now available on…
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Alibris
Ikonographpress.com

Find out more about the book on Facebook.

Posted in Love Poetry, Spiritual Poetry

Starlust Hymns (micro poem) ✨

Stardust limbs and heart,
Love every inch seen, unseen.
Starlust hymns and work of art…
What you are.

 

space solar system GIF by NASA

Posted in Promoting Books, Promoting Poets & Artists

📖INTERVIEW: “Margaret’s Story” by Andrew Green📖

584C6673988149D483BA96E4DDAEC994.jpeg
^Click to purchase!

In the author’s own words: My mother always talked about writing her story but could never get beyond the first chapter about the circumstances of her birth. Born illegitimately in 1930s Brighton, she was mistreated by foster parents and relatives, was briefly in domestic service, married young and travelled widely with her soldier husband. She loved everyone but couldn’t find it in her to love herself. This is her story.

 


Hello Andrew! This is definitely the first time I’m interviewing a poet who authored a book showcasing a biography in poetic form. An avid poet and biography writer myself, I’m excited that I’m speaking with someone who merged the two. That’s brilliant! The book blurb gave us some insight into the backstory here, but I’d like for you to go into some more detail pertaining to the inspiration behind this collection of poetry.

This is the book my mother always talked about writing. We knew she never would. She was too preoccupied with the first chapter about the circumstances of her birth. Her mum was a domestic servant in a big house who was seduced and left with a child by a visiting policeman who would stop off on his beat for a cup of tea. Mum was born illegitimately at a time when unmarried mothers and their children were looked down on. She’d share stories of how she’d been mistreated by foster parents and her grandmother threatening to throw her books on the fire.

But the moment I absolutely knew I was going to write the story occurred in the Italian city of Trieste a place I hadn’t been back to since I was evacuated with my mother sixty years before. Something my wife said made me realise how mind blowing an experience would have been for a young woman like my mother who would have experienced nothing like it. I’d thought of writing something with a working title like, ‘A Life In Places’ about the Places we’d been as an army family and the things that happened there but I saw mum was he natural focus for the book and that finally I could tell her story.

Presenting the story in verse came about partly because I mostly write poetry but also because I saw a long poem by Wendy Cope, The Teacher’s Tale that made me think something like that would work. I was aware of Betjeman’s Verse Autobiography, Summoned by Bells but Wendy Cope’s work seemed so much more accessible. I also found that presenting the story in verse meant I could focus on the core story and not meander into pointless detail.

Thank you for that inside look! Very insightful. So, how did your love of poetry and writing in general come to be?

I loved writing stories at school and always saw myself as a would be writer. The problem was I seldom wrote anything. It was safer that way, I couldn’t fail and kill the dream.

I had the occasional success with a poem that won a local competition and was broadcast on local and national radio and another time I won a hymn writing competition and had my lyrics sung by a 1,000 strong congregation that included the Poet Laureate and the Archbishop of Canterbury but I was in my mid sixties before I began writing regularly. I found the writers networking site Wattpad and suddenly became prolific with my first two collections on the site being featured. I also won the odd monthly competition on there.

I slipped into writing poetry because it seemed easier than sustained prose. Now I feel, as one of my best read poems “Voice” has it, that I’ve ‘found my voice.’

I heard my name, it echoed back
It sounded down the lonely track.

How lovely! What are the top central themes you portray in this book?

I’ve been thrilled by the reviews of Margaret’s Story and people have clearly picked up on some of the themes: mum’s troubled childhood troubles and later ill health, the constant upheavals of army life and the ‘upstairs, downstairs’ class differences but in the author’s eyes there was one underlying theme that pulled them all together.

The deprivations Margaret suffered were emotional rather than physical. The adults in her life seemingly blamed her for the circumstances of her birth and destroyed her sense of self worth.

Family was vitally important to Margaret because she grew up without one. She was a loving mother who always put her family first but the one person she couldn’t find it in herself to love was herself. She took to comfort eating and from being a waif like creature in her youth, became increasingly overweight. In later life she neglected her health with a cavalier disregard for what was good for her.

While she was a loving mother and would do anything for her children the lack of self belief was to an extent passed on. Hence, the surprise when I passed my eleven plus exam and my own sense of discomfort, Janette ‘dropping out’ of grammar school because she found the other, pony owning girls too posh and Mum’s genuine surprise when I talked about people who thought they were better than us. “Aren’t they?!” she said and she meant it.

That sounds so impactful and heartbreaking. It’s evident that your mother led a life filled with challenges, but her love for others never wavered. I’m glad you’ve shared her story in such a uniquely beautiful way. Up next: What poets are major influences for you?

I enjoy poets who are technically excellent but whose work is accessible. If they are clever and witty with it, so much the better.

John Betjeman is an obvious influence but my favourite poet at the moment is Wendy Cope who I’ve already mentioned.

I must look into these poets! We’ve covered quite a bit of ground already, but now I’m curious about your creative writing process. What does that entail?

I need a couple of lines to get me started but, once I get my opening lines, rhyme and rhythm come quite naturally; so I write quickly but then, having got it all down, fiddle endlessly to get it right. I read and enjoy other poets and like to try new things so will often copy or adapt their style. I enjoy writing in formal styles like the Pantoum or Villanelle but will equally throw them overboard if they don’t fit what I want to say. I favour rhyme and rhythm but will ditch them if they get in the way of meaning.

Family was vitally important to Margaret because she grew up without one. She was a loving mother who always put her family first but the one person she couldn’t find it in herself to love was herself.

Wonderful! Is there anything else that you’d like to mention?

Publishing Margaret’s Story has been an emotional and special experience. My next book will be a little more light hearted. It will be called ‘Dear Queen’ and is my, tongue in cheek, application for the post of Poet Laureate. I write a lot of poems and live very near her weekend Home Windsor Castle, so it would be an ideal arrangement for both of us. There’ll be a few royal poems and a ‘best of’ selection from my Wattpad bits. Hopefully it will be published April or May ahead of the royal wedding.

That sounds perfect. I really appreciate the thought you put into this interview. I definitely learned a lot about your book and about you as a poet. Thank you!


author_photo_180130093413.jpeg

Andrew Green is a regular contributor to Wattpad.com where he has won competitions and is slowly building a following. He mostly writes poetry. It’s usually light-hearted but often makes a serious point.

His poem “Living, Breathing Slough” won a local competition and was featured on Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Four.


📖Now available on…
Amazon US
Amazon UK
*Countdown deal starting today!*
DISCOUNTED PRICE FOR A LIMITED TIME

📖Andrew’s Websites
Facebook
Twitter
Wattpad
Official Website

Posted in Misc. Poetry

Theseus (micro poem)

I may be a Minotaur now, but I know I’m meant to be Theseus.
My inner labyrinth will soon become a clear night sky…
I feel it in the marrow of every bone.

night sky stars GIF