GER: You have said that two of your major influences were the poet Josephine Austin and Jack Kerouac. How so?
JDR: I had began to write poetry from about aged 16 or so: I told no one, I didn’t know of any other poets: talk of poetry was not done: it was soccer: music: movies: girls and alcohol; Josephine Austin: 1934-2014: had been published by the big publishing houses in London: she was friend’s with Robert Graves and would visit him at his Mallorca home, Josephine was also friend’s with poet Brian Patten: Josephine would organize poetry readings throughout the local area and established an annual ‘International Poetry Festival’: she also produced a poetry magazine : First Time’ which gave showcase to many poets over the years: I attended one of the Festivals: I was shy and awkward but Josephine approached me during the intermission and asked if I wrote poetry: I showed her some of my poems: She asked if she could read a couple during the next session: and that was the beginning of our friendship that lasted over 3 decades: Josephine and her husband Brian were always very encouraging and I think their influence gave me the courage to become a publisher: about the same time I met Josephine, it was suggested by a female codeine swallowing charlatan that I should read ‘On The Road’: this book and what subsequently followed changed me: it opened up horizons for me: I read just about everything I could get my hands on that was beat connected which has lasted to this day: It was Kerouac’s self-drive and commitment and belief of himself as a writer that swept me up, the sense of spiritual exploration and riding the railways and roads seemed romantic: I wanted to taste it somehow.
GER: How important was it to you to engage the local poetry scene and workshops in your development as a poet?
JDR: Thinking back I feel that it was very educating to participate in local poetry readings: mostly they were riotous drinking sessions: but the opportunity to hear the work of other poets and how they delivered /vocalised their work was valuable: it wasn’t always enjoyable: At that time I enjoyed reading, these days I rarely read in public: these days I am something of a recluse: I held/taught and introduced poetry workshops in the local college and this was something that I truly enjoyed: I spent a great deal of time working on a programme that would be fun and easy to take part, remembering that poetry isn’t a part of many lives, it was important to present something that was accessible.
GER: As a young man you engaged in the study of poets and poetry. How did this study influence your development as a poet?
JDR: Pre-internet days I would spend hours in the public library reading through endless poetry collections and anthologies, taking notes of the poets that interested me and then I would read biographies of the poets: With few exceptions, I have very rarely read established UK poets and have always been very much more comfortable reading American poets: I have read at various times different schools/disciplines of poetry: surrealist: concrete: classical: meat/beat and have been to some degree, influenced by them all.
GER: You have published several chapbooks in addition to several more as a cooperative effort. Tell us about the process as a poet in addition to what led you to engage in cooperative publication?
JDR: I try and write every day, sometimes I don’t manage it: sometimes it is not worthy work and I will discard: I may revise a poem several times, sometimes the poems do not need any editing: I hand write my poems: pen and notebook: I do not compose poetry on an electronic keyboard: I relish the opportunity to work with other poets: The Holy&intoxicated Publications Poetry Card Series provides me with the opportunity to reach out to selected poets for a contribution: a friendship develops and the chance to produce a split chapbook of poetry sometimes surfaces: creating and publishing books is something that I love doing. The chance to share the pages with another poet is always an exciting journey including reaching out to an artist for the cover art and collaborating the material and editing it into book form.
GER: The poet John Dorsey said in a recent interview concerning Outlaw Poetry, “…I guess I don’t really like the term, it was made up by some marketing executive, really, there’s academia and then everyone else, and I guess that means me. These days an outlaw is anyone who loves with their whole heart.” What say you?
JDR: I’d go along with John Dorsey on this one: Outlaw can be interpreted variedly and widely, as most things can: Robert Graves replied to the question: ‘what is the secret of writing poetry?’ ‘It must be written with Love-Magic’: so this fits with Dorsey’s statement: there will always be ‘labels’ ‘schools’ ‘fashions’ but if it is good, quality poetry it doesn’t matter what the label is.
GER: Publisher Bill Henderson of the Pushcart Anthology stated in 2012, “I have long railed against the e-book and instant Internet publication as damaging to writers. Instant anything is dangerous—great writing takes time. You should long to be as good as John Milton and Reynolds Price, not just barf into the electronic void.” I took this to be elitist and condescending to poets who do work their poetry and believe the internet has opened up opportunities for those voices that would be ignored by folks like Henderson. What say you?
JDR: I think the opportunity to have your work published online is not damaging in any way; this is the time we are in: the internet has given rise to a large number of ‘poetry journals and literary and artistic publications’ and the number of ‘paper zines’ is I think in a healthy state also: there is something special about ‘holding/handling’ a printed zine/book publication: so I am happy with both options of publishing: either way, I am always very thankful and grateful for any of my work to appear in either presentation.
GER: How important is it to get your poetry published and do you receive any response upon publication?
JDR: ‘Publish or perish’ said Bukowski: and there is a lot of truth in this: small press poets and presses come and go with some frequency: I will write for 2 or 3 months and then focus on selecting and sending out the work to various and numerous online/paper publications: I often receive emails commenting on my work, generally they are positive comments for which I am thankful for of course: about 3 years ago I decided that I’d like to get a poem, at least, published somewhere every month and I have been fortunate enough to have achieved this so far.
GER: What poets do you currently read and why?
JDR: I always have books by Doug Draime: Steve Richmond: d a levy, William Wantling: close by: I read a great deal of small press poets: publications by Holy&intoxicated Publications are by invitation only and I spend a lot of time reading for future poets and potential Holy&intoxicated Publications: something I never tire of.
GER: How would you describe the poetry of John D. Robinson?
JDR: Honest: no bullshit.
GER: What projects are you currently working on?
JDR: I am working on a chapbook by Doug Draime: some of the poems have not appeared in print form before and I am very excited about this publication: also a chapbook by the UK poet Adrian Manning: and chapbooks by Tohm Bakelas and David Boski: and George Anderson: and Martin Appleby: all fine poets: I also have the Holy&intoxicated Publications Poetry Cards series to concentrate on as well as Broadsides:
‘Uncollected Press’ USA will shortly be publishing my first full collection: ‘Hang In There’: www.therawartreview.com
Chapbooks by John D. Robinson
Cowboy Hats & Railways (Scars Press 2016)
When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2016)
An Outlaw In The Making (Scars Publications 2017)
These Poems Stole Your Lunch Money with Bradley Mason Hamlin (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)
Looking Down Both Barrels with Adrian Manning (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)
Hitting Home (Iron Lung Press 2018)
In Pursuit Of Shadows (Analog Submission Press 2018)
In Between The Curves with Charles Joseph (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2018)
Echoes Of Diablo (Concrete Meat Press 2018)
Too Many Drinks Ago (Paper & Ink Zine Publication 2018)
Romance, Renegades & Riots with James Gwill Thomas (Analog Submission Press 2018)
g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems and can be found at: http://gereutter.wordpress.com/