poet interview

An Interview with Poet John D. Robinson

john 5John D Robinson is renowned UK poet: with hundreds of poems published in small press zines and online literary journals including : The Raw Art Review, Rusty Truck: Outlaw Poetry: North Of Oxford: Tuck Magazine: Misfits Magazine: The Sunflower Collective: Winamop: Bear Creek Haiku: Chicago Record: The Legendary: Paper and Ink Zine: Algebra Of Owls: Full Of Crow: The Beatnik Cowboy: The Clockwise Cat:  The Scum Gentry: Message In A Bottle: Horror Sleaze ,Trash: Your One Phone Call: In Between Hangovers:  Rasputin: Revolution John: Vox Poetica: Hand Job Zine:  48th Street Press: Poems-For-All: Philosophical Idiot:  The Peeking Cat: Midnight Lane Boutique: Underground Books: Dead Snakes: Yellow Mama: Bareback Lit: Eunoia Review: Hobo Camp Review.
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Interview by g emil reutter
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GER: You have said that two of your major influences were the poet Josephine Austin and Jack Kerouac. How so?

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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?

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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.

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GER: As a young man you engaged in the study of poets and poetry. How did this study influence your development as a poet?

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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.

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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?

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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.

outlaw

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?

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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.

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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?

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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.

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GER: How important is it to get your poetry published and do you receive any response upon publication?

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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.

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GER: What poets do you currently read and why?

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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.

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GER: How would you describe the poetry of John D. Robinson?

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JDR: Honest: no bullshit.

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GER: What projects are you currently working on?

hang in there

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)

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1537539019/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sout?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sout-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1537539019&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

When You Hear The Bell, There’s Nowhere To Hide (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2016)

https://www.amazon.com/When-Hear-Bell-Theres-Nowhere/dp/0993206808

An Outlaw In The Making (Scars Publications 2017)

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaw-Making-John-D-Robinson/dp/1981468188

These Poems Stole Your Lunch Money with Bradley Mason Hamlin  (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)

https://www.amazon.com/These-Poems-Stole-Lunch-Money/dp/0993206875

Looking Down Both Barrels with Adrian Manning  (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2017)

https://www.amazon.in/Looking-Barrels-Adrian-Manning-Robinson/dp/0993206867

Hitting Home (Iron Lung Press 2018)

https://ironlungpress.bigcartel.com/product/hitting-home-by-john-d-robinson

In Pursuit Of  Shadows (Analog Submission Press 2018)

https://www.analogsubmission.com/product/the-pursuit-of-shadows-by-john-d-robinson

In Between The Curves  with Charles Joseph  (Holy&intoxicated Publications 2018)

https://www.amazon.ca/Between-Curves-Charles-Joseph-Robinson/dp/0993206891

Echoes Of Diablo  (Concrete Meat Press 2018)

http://adrianmanning.wixsite.com/concretemeatpress/single-post/2018/08/16/New-Chapbook-by-John-D-Robinson

Too Many Drinks Ago  (Paper & Ink Zine Publication 2018)

https://paperandinkzine.bigcartel.com/product/too-many-drinks-ago-by-john-d-robinson

Romance, Renegades & Riots  with James Gwill Thomas  (Analog Submission Press 2018)

https://www.analogsubmission.com/product/romance-renegades-riots-by-gwil-james-thomas-john-d-robinson

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g emil reutter is a writer of stories and poems and can be found at: http://gereutter.wordpress.com/

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Past Interviews at North of Oxford

chimera frank

An Interview with Frank Wilson

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/an-interview-with-frank-wilson/

Lynn Lifshin 2

An Interview with Lyn Lifshin

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-lyn-lifshin/

IMG_0418

An Interview with Bradley D. Snow

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/an-interview-with-bradley-d-snow-living-with-lead-an-environmental-history-of-idahos-coeur-dalenes-1885-2011/

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©  Martin Desht 1995-2018

An Interview with Martin Desht

https://northofoxford.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/an-interview-with-martin-desht/

Karen Corinne Herceg on the Joe Dans Radio Show July 26th at 11 a.m.

Karen Corinne Herceg

Poet Karen Corinne Herceg, a contributor to North of Oxford , will appear on the Joe Dans Morning Show with Donna Reis. The show will air on July 26th at 11 a.m. You can listen on line at www.wtbq.com

An Interview with Lyn Lifshin

Lynn Lifshin 2

Lyn Lifshin has published  over 130 books and chapbooks including 3 from Black Sparrow Press: Cold Comfort, Before It’s Light and Another Woman Who Looks Like Me. Before Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle, Lifshin published her prize winning book about the short lived beautiful race horse Ruffian, The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian and  Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness.  Recent books include Ballroom, All the Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living and Dead. All True, Especially The Lies, Light At the End: The Jesus Poems, Katrina, Mirrors, Persphone, Lost In The Fog,  Knife Edge & Absinthe: The Tango Poems .  NYQ books published A Girl Goes into The Woods. Also  just out: For the Roses poems after Joni Mitchell and Hitchcock Hotel from Danse Macabre. Secretariat: The Red Freak, The Miracle.  And Tangled as the Alphabet,– The Istanbul Poems from NightBallet Press Just released as well  Malala,   the dvd of Lyn Lifshin: Not Made of Glass. The Marilyn Poems was just released from Rubber Boots Press. An update to her Gale Research Autobiography is out: Lips, Blues, Blue Lace: On The Outside. Also just out is a dvd of the documentary film about her: Lyn Lifshin: Not Made Of Glass. Just out: Femme Eterna  and Moving Through Stained Glass: the Maple Poems. Forthcoming: Degas Little Dancer and Winter Poems from Kind of a Hurricane Press, Paintings and Poems, from Tangerine press (just out)  and The Silk Road from Night Ballet, alivelikealoadedgun from Transcendent Zero Press Just Out and forthcoming Refugees   http://www.lynlifshin.com/

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  • g emil reutter

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The Interview

Lynn Lifshin

GER: What brought you to poetry and who were your inspirations?

LL: As a child I was read to a lot and I remember one of my favorite books was the collection of poetry, NOW WE ARE SIX, with its poetry of Tattoo the Cat, Alexander the beetle his grandmother let out, and Anne, Anne playing in the willows. I still have that book. When I was about 3, driving from Barre, VT to Middlebury, VT I am told I said “it looks like the trees are dancing.”  My mother, who named me Rosalyn Diane, a name she thought would be appropriate for an actress, something I think she always wanted to be herself, sighed, “well then maybe she will be a poet.”

 In elementary school, because I read and wrote well, I skipped from first to third grade. There, I had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Flag. Each morning she brought in something—a branch of apple blossoms, colored stones, prints of famous paintings and asked us to write about them. I still have those blue books with hand written poems about apple blossoms, water fowl, snow in April. One day I copied a poem of Blake’s and told my mother I had written it. Since Middlebury was a small town it wasn’t unusual that my mother ran into my teacher and told her what an inspiration she’d been—how I had written a poem with words in it she didn’t even know I knew. By Monday I had to write my  poem with those particular words in them: rill, descending, nigh.

In college I never felt I could write enough so didn’t take any writing courses. But I did write a few poems over summer. Robert Frost, who spent the summer in Ripton, VT, often wandered around Middlebury in baggy green pants carrying a bag of strawberries. Like my father, he was a taciturn, quiet man and would only let my father, who worked in my uncle’s department store, wait on him. My father one time showed him one of my poems and Frost wrote on it. “wonderful images—bring me some more poems.” By the time I had any more poems, Frost was dead. In my first year of college I fell in love with Federico Garcia Lorca and in graduate school, Dylan Thomas. And later Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin.

GER: You never attended a workshop yet you have taught numerous workshops. What value do you place in workshops?

 LL: For so many writers who start writing on their own, maybe a workshop is a great place to try out poems and stories, meet other writers, start a magazine. At times I think these workshops become so insulated they only publish their own poems but I suppose there are good things coming out of them. When I started writing, I wouldn’t have any idea of where to even look for a writing workshop.

Lyn Lifshin Reading

GER:  Do you use a particular formula in creating your poems?

LL: Not really. I did an article for Writers Digest about the many way I’ve started poems and there are so many. I like assignments: people looking for poems on a certain subject. That often triggers a who series of poems on that subject. A forthcoming book, THE SILK ROAD came  from a request for poems about silk and spices. Requests for poems on certain subjects often turn into whole books: poems about Jesus, (JESUS ALIVE AND IN THE FLESH)  (poems about dick for a day, mother and daughter poems, (TANGLED VINES) and (THE DAUGHTER I DON’T HAVE.) Marilyn Monroe (MARILYN MONROE) political poems (BLUE TATTOO), Barbie  poems (BARBIE), Malala (MALALA). So often when I am asked for a poem on a subject it seems I couldn’t stop and wrote not one or two poems but a series. FOR THE ROSES came from a request for poems about Joni Mitchell. Sadly the week the book was  released, the editor-publisher became sick and died –I had received only about ten copies of the book and no one could find the others or discover the key to printing more copies—so the few that are out are truly collectors’ copies. ) I paid to have a group reprinted but sadly the book didn’t get the attention it should had though I think it is still on Amazon and I have a few copies;  an Obama file came from two requests for two books on Obama that came out just around his election. I never submitted that file anywhere else.

LittleDancercover

GER: Tell us about your latest release, Little Dancer–The Degas Poems.

 LL:  I’d always loved ballet- in Middlebury there was not much of a chance to take classes. For a year or two a lovely, exotic dancer from Paris, Mrs. Berge—later we learned she was Mrs. Berger who had come to escape the Holocaust. I was a chubby 8 year old but I loved the classes and she gave me a tiara and costume she wore in the Metropolitan Opera that I still have and cherish. Though I still take ballet barre, now my passion is ballroom and Argentine tango. The original statue of the little dance is in the National Gallery in Washington DC and I wrote the  poems after seeing a  play based on Degas and the little dancer.

AliveLikeALoadedGun

GER: In 2014 Femme Eterna was released followed by #AliveLikeALoadedGun  in 2016. Could you share with us your thoughts on these books?

LL: Classical images and themes haven’t been a mainstay of my work. But an artist wanted to collaborate on a project for THE WOMEN’S MUSEUM. She had an idea of showing women thru the ages and how they each had some area of power. We planned to begin with the earliest well known women and work up to the present.  We each picked out a number of women in myth and history and she began working on paintings and I worked on poems. I started with Enheduanna because I knew nothing about her. It was fun. I loved the fact that she was not only the first woman who signed her name to what she had written but she was also a poet. I loved reading about the Euphrates, imagining her shiny dark lips as she wrote on her lapis lazuli tablet. I was impressed, imagining the patience and time it must have taken to write with a stylus and in cuneiform. When I was in Turkey, I saw a stylus of similar cuneiforms and was even more amazed at Enheduanna’s accomplishments.   It was easy to identify with Scheherazade, another story teller, who imagination kept her alive. I learned so much about Nefertiti’s life, her power, her heart breaks. It was very different for me to focus on the myths and history of these special women. The project my artist friend and I were working on never happened. More recently we talked about resurrecting a project that would combine our poetic and artistic works.     

ALIVELIKEALOADEDGUN came together in a rather traditional way. The editor-producer wrote me and asked if I’d be interested in doing a book. I sent him several, (many—I probably drowned him in files) of new poems and he made the selection.       

GER: Over 135 of your books have been published and after decades of writing you remain prolific. To what do you attribute the continued flow of creativity?

LL: I’m really not sure. In the cabinet over my desk are about 59 hand written notebooks—spiral notebooks with about 70 pages each of poems so if I never write another poem, I will have more than enough to type up for years!. I am still writing. Two of my poems that I felt were strong were just accepted by a magazine that felt they were some of the strongest I’ve written.

 For a while I was fascinated with horse racing and three of my strongest books came from that subject: THE LICORICE DAUGHTER: A YEAR WITH RUFFIAN; BARBARO: UNBROKEN; SECRETARIAT:THE RED FREAK, THE MIRACLE. Before that, many of the poems were family poems, poems about people. My three Black sparrow books have many poems about family: COLD COMFORT, BEFORE IT’S LIGHT and ANOTHER WOMAN WHO LOOKS LIKE ME. And I did a series of books about places: AUDDLEY END, THE OLD HOUSE ON THE CROTON, SHAKER HOUSE POEMS, PLYMOUTH WOMEN, THE OLD HOUSES, PLYMOUTH. I’ve also done many nature themed books NUTLEY POND and MOVING THRU STAINED GLASS—THE MAPLE POEMS.

lifshin hat

 GER: How has the poetry scene changed since you first came on the scene?

 LL: In so many way. The many advanced degrees in poetry at many schools has created little enclaves or cliques of poets.  Submission has changed with Submittable being the main way of sending poems. In early anthologies RISING TIDES and PSYCHE:THE POETRIC FEMININE  –anthologies that go from Emily Dickinson to the present include my work while there are only about 5  other contemporary poets. But I’ve never won a Push Cart. Or had a poem on Garrison Keillor’s daily poem program.

GER: So I hear you like to tango. Do you find any similarities between the art of the dance and the art of words?

LL: I suppose there are—tango never came as easily as poetry but I’ve loved it as much. On my web site there is a tango dance I’ve done after only half a year of classes. But I wish I did more. I do have a book of tango poems; (all written before I did any tango dancing) KNIFE EDGE & ABSINTH:THE TANGO POEMS. And BALLROOM, another of my favorites, is also from the press where the editor died—I do have some copies and I hope Amazon does too. It all is rather ephemeral isn’t it? I do have a movie LYN LIFSHIN: NOT MADE OF GLASS and I used to tape all my poems only to realize my tape recorder wasn’t very good. But there are some readings of poems on my web site http://www.lynlifshin.com and a reading and interview at the Library of Congress and is on my web site.

Watch Lyn Lifshin doing the Argentine Tango!

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2  Poems
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IT’S BEEN SO LONG
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since I’ve dreamed
anything that was
not nightmare
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This spring
with goslings in
the roses, tulips
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and crocuses pushing
color thru crystal
ice, I hardly
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notice the wood
ducks. I don’t hear
geese in flight.
 
I used to dream
goose music, scan
black ripples
 
walking back
from the pond.
Before I photographed
 
the last light
glowing in dark
woods
 
the sun gulped.
Just one tree
on fire as
 
if glowing
from within
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THE MAD GIRL LONGS TO SEE THE VERMILLION MOON
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a word she used in a freshman
comp class and was told it
didn’t exist. She wants that
moon, exotic as the long gone
sailor’s eyes, the ripples at
Lake Dunmore glowed in more
years ago than she can believe.
She doesn’t want just any
moon but a moon the color
of her cries, garnet and tangerine,
a Harvest Moon that will turn
her bare arms and thighs
rouge as he did. Later, she opens
the blinds. She’d almost
forgotten about the moon but
suddenly something pulls her from
the quilts to the window and
it was there, as if waiting for her
in her dream, a moon
as in love with secrets as she is,
letting mysteries bleed into
the shadows of her bedroom,
into the round blond
vanity and hassock she once
watched her mother stand behind
her braiding her hair, Otter
Falls crashing in the distance into
the whirlpool she isn’t sure
came from other worlds
or from her own imagination
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To learn more about Lynn Lifshin please visit her at:  http://www.lynlifshin.com/ 

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g emil reutter is a writer of poems and stories. You can find him here:About g emil reutter
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