Friday, May 20, 2016

Poet Interview: STEVEN MICHAEL PAPE (second interview)

Interview with STEVEN MICHAEL PAPE

Your last interview covered your book 21st Century Wasteland: Birth Chaos Death. How much recognition has it gotten in the last year and a half?
21st Century Wasteland had pretty good reviews and was accepted quite fondly. It's a book that hopefully will continue to be recognized as a good collection. It took a long time to complete and I'm still happy with it. My last book This Fragile Life also got decent reviews from buyers even though the poetry touched on different subjects.

Were the reviews of Wasteland and Fragle official zine reviews or fan-written critiques like you see at Amazon.com?
Most were Amazon related but others came in the form of people who had read the book contacting me to say how much they liked the poems. Certain poems are liked for different reasons it all depends on the person and his or her life.

How long did it take to compile 21st Century Wasteland? Was it weeks or even months before you were finally satisfied?
Wasteland took a few years with writing and editing. My friend Tim Bennett did the art for the cover. You always have to run sample copies past the artist first to see if they are happy with how their art is portrayed and if the text isn't obscuring a piece of it.

Can we acquire any art collections published by Tim Bennett? Has he designed the covers of your other books or anything released by other authors?
Tim’s art is selling quite well recently he did the covers for Observations With Half Closed Eyes and A Closed Mind Is An Open Trap. His work can be viewed and bought at www.artbytimbennett.com and www.artfinder.com. He does commission work if people want a certain piece of art or say a portrait off of a photo. I own a piece of Tim’s art centering on Jim Morrison in Paris with my poem An American In Paris on it.

How did your poem about Jim Morrison fir Tim’s art? Are Tim’s commissions available for viewing on either of those links?
My partner asked Tim to do the piece as a birthday present for me, so he took certain descriptions in the poem to create the artwork around it. Most of Tim’s work is on his site and he puts a lot on Artfinder for sale.

I usually acquire your books for review through trading. Do you often trade or send out promotional copies of your books? Are 21st Century Wasteland and your other publications still available for people who missed their initial release?
I mostly send promo copies to several long term supporters and friends as well as local press if they are interested in promoting its release. I also give copies to new readers if they show an interest in my work. 21st Century, A Closed Mind Is An Open Trap and This Fragile Life are available on Amazon either as a book or as a download for the Kindle.

Does Amazon or Kindle help get your work around more? What kind of promotion does local press give your books when you send them promotional copies?
Amazon helps my work just having them there. It's easy to order and I can alter the price of my books any time I want to appeal to readers. The Kindle version can be downloaded free for certain users who use the lending option so that's always a good avenue for new or existing readers. Local press promotes my work simply by their articles and pieces. This always helps and is appreciated.

Are any bookstores carrying your publications locally? Do you personally prefer going to bookstores or ordering online?
No bookstores as of yet are selling my book but they are in local libraries which is good. I think in bookstores you can hold and read the physical book but online is quicker for some in this day and age.

How many different subjects were you touching on while writing the material that ended up in This Fragile Life? In what ways overall does it stand out from 21st Century Wasteland and your other collections?
With Fragile Life I was trying to focus on the young and the old, kind of a past-meeting-the-future scenario. I feel that this book and its contents is my most mature and honest poetry to date. I wrote about several subjects apart from just the old and young subjects.

Would you say all your publications have taken on different themes? Is this a deliberate effort or does it depend in the frame of mind you are in when writing?
21st Century tended to follow a more political theme and had more poems about society. I mostly wait until I have about twenty poems and see if they follow a pattern. I will then base the title and cover around them. With This Fragile Life I knew how I wanted the material to come across and planned the poems in advance several months beforehand. I had an idea of the cover I wanted; my hand and my daughter’s. I was happy with the cover my friend Alan Davidson produced for this book.

Is Alan Davidson an artist or photographer? Are there places on the net where his work can be viewed? Do you intend to collaborate with him for future publications?
Alan Davidson is a photographer and a friend for several years. I like his work and his vision. It was interesting to work with him. After discussing This Fragile Life with him he agreed to work on the cover for me as well as doing some promo shots which went into local papers. He can be found on Facebook at present and he is in the process of setting up a website to showcase his work. I'm currently working on a new book with him which will be my poems accompanied by his photographs. A story told through my poems and his visual representation through photographs.

How did you first hear about Alan Davidson’s photography? What spoke to you about his photographs and how would you describe them to somebody?
I first found out that Alan did photography when I saw some shots he had taken of my Nephew for a fashion shoot. His photos are very varied and there is no set theme. It can be anything from nature, people or anything that inspires him.

How are you and Davidson working out this new project’s storyline, between your writing and his photography?
I send Alan my new poems, he looks in his archive of photos to see if he has any that may fit the theme. If he hasn't then he comes up with ideas and runs these past me until we decide on a particular photo to accompany each poem. We have a few we are happy with but it's early days yet.

What’s the projected release date for your collaboration with Davidson? Are you choosing a title for it, or will that come toward the end of your compiling the project?
There is no release date as of yet, I still have poems to write and photos to choose from Alans collection. The title I've chosen will be secret until it's published, but it's a title that fits in with the poetry/photo theme.

What is the collective theme of the poems you planned for This Fragile Life? How many poems did you have to choose from while you were putting it together?
For This Fragile Life I had about forty poems to choose from. Some of these swayed from the collective theme I wanted for this particular book so I didn't feel they would fit into this collection. Occasionally I have to leave some poems out of books if I'm not 100% happy with them.

Do you keep the poems you leave out for possible publication in future collections, or move on to writing new poems?
I sometimes keep poems aside if they don't fit into the book I'm working on or if I feel they need more work before publication.

Are you doing any interviews to promote your books? Are more print zines or webzines interviewing poets these days?
I tend not to do many interviews to be honest, I always try and get some promotion when I publish a new book. If this involves interviews I'm happy to do them. It's all about promoting my work but never about self-promotion.

In what publications besides this one have you done interviews since the beginning of the year? Did you get to present information about your work enough for their readers?
I've not done many interviews for a while I did a podcast for Leftlion magazine in Nottingham but that was to promote my first book The Awakening Soul in 2009.

Can your podcast interview for Leftlion still be streamed today? Tell the readers a little more about this podcast site.
I don't think the podcast is still available as it was in 2009, but Leftlion is still going and has a good readership. The podcast involved an interview and several poems from The Awakening Soul. They host poetry reading nights at a local bar called The Jam Cafe.

You recently had a poem published in Ilkeston Life magazine. Tell the readers about this publication, which poem you sent them and why you made that particular choice?
Ilkeston Life is a local paper published monthly in my town, it has a readership of 11,000 so far but it’s expanding each month. I contacted the editor to express my wishes for his success with the paper and forwarded new poems to him to use as he wishes. Recently he published a Spring poem of mine, then a Summer poem the following month to accompany it. He has several of my poems that he can use as and when he wants. Certain poems I have sent like the ones mentioned before were written especially for the paper in mind, though they may possibly end up in the new book.

Is Ilkeston Life the only local publication that helped expose your work or are there others? Has your work been published in any magazines outside your home country?
A few local papers have been kind enough to promote my work. I still get poems in FM monthly books that are for sale via Amazon and I did a dark poetry section for Gorgeous Freaks magazine from Puerto Rico many years ago. As I tend not to write dark poetry I no longer write for GF but it's a very good magazine for the Alternative and Gothic subculture.

How much reader exposure did you get from Gorgeous Freaks while you were writing for them?
I'm uncertain of their print run and sales. The editor contacted me after reading some of my dark poetry and asked if I'd be interested in having certain poems in the zine.

Are there any new punk documentaries you have gotten to watch lately? The other night I watched the current doc about Kurt Cobain and Nirvana (Montage Of Heck).
I watched Looking For Johnny about Johnny Thunders as I'm a big fan. I also watched Julien Temple's Oil City Confidential about British band Dr Feelgood. I really like Dr. Feelgood as they had a big impact on the Punk scene I believe.

How informative about Johnny Thunders in Looking For Johnny? How much of Dr. Feelgood’s impact on the punk scene covered in Julien Temple’s doc on that band?
Personally I thought it was good to see interviews with Billy Rath and Walter Lure and others involved in his life. I found it indepth and it gave a lot of information about Thunders. There is a mention about Dr. Feelgood being an influence on the punk movement in the doc as they were around a few years before. Their energy on stage is prevalent in bands that came afterward in the punk scene.

Do Billy Ruth and Walter Lure offer any insight into Thunders that hadn’t been common knowledge before Looking For Johnny?
Rath and Lure tend to discuss touring and recording mostly. They went on tour as the Heartbreakers with the Sex Pistols and The Clash so there's quite a big piece on that period.

How many other documentaries has Julien Temple produced altogether?
As far as I know Temple has done four or five docs. The Future Is Unwritten (Joe Strummer) The Filth And The Fury (Sex Pistols) the Oil City doc and recently The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson about Dr. Feelgood’s guitarist. I'm sure he has done one about The Clash.

How does The Future Is Unwritten and The Ecstasy Of Wilko Johnson compare to The Filth And The Fury? In what ways does Temple’s interviewing make his docs unique?
The Future Is Unwritten and Ecstasy differs firstly in the way these two are about one person and Filth & Fury is more about the collective Pistols. Temple likes to include commercials and other things from the era in his docs and he likes to include visual art in them. He’s intelligent and asks good questions.

I noticed a Facebook page you shared on a Sid Vicious documentary. Is that doc released yet for people to view or purchase?
I've no idea when the Sid doc comes out but it sounds like it's going to be good and focus on his murder charge for the death of Nancy Spungen. Apparently there are new interviews associated with the couple around that time in New York.

There was a book published called Vicious: Too Fast To Live that speculates on what really happened the night Spungen was murdered. Do you have a copy or other books on the subject?
I’ve read that book and a few others like Sid’s Way by Alan Parker and one by Spungen’s mother called And I Don't Want To Live This Life which goes into depth about her earlier life up until and after she met Sid. I believe there might be a book to accompany the Sad Vacation doc when it is out.

Besides the project you and Alan Davidson are working on, are you writing poems for another solo collection? There is a poem you penned this month you are posting on your Facebook profile that has gotten some feedback.
I'm sure I will look into maybe a solo book at some time although Tim Bennett has expressed an interest in maybe doing an art/poetry book after I've finished this new one so I think that would be interesting to work on. I don't post on Facebook as much as I used to but do sometimes put new poems up just to gauge people reactions and see if they are liked enough to maybe go in the book.

One new poem you posted recently is called Scratch Cards And White Cider. It was written this month, what inspired it and what were you trying to recapture in those verses?
Most of my new poems are observational; I just write what I see and my take on particular situations. I tried to picture the poverty and despair some people experience if they are out of work with kids to feed rent to pay. Scratch cards are a way to possibly win some money, but like alcohol it can become an addiction like anything else. Everything in that poem is what I have seen; nothing is fantasy.

What is the subject matter you are drawing influence from for your newest poems and the poems you plan to write?
This new book is pretty varied to be honest there's a few about art and photography and nature and just general observations about life and what I see. If I do the next book with Tim it could be the same an eclectic collection.

Which of your new publications do you intend Scratch Cards And White Cider to be part of? Are there poems you have penned besides this one?
Scratch Cards will be in my new book and Alan has mentioned doing some sort of collage to accompany this poem. I'm aiming for 35 poems like This Fragile Life which will of course have 35 photos also so it should work out nicely and hopefully be effective.

Will you continue to publish independently and offer your publications online, or do you plan to eventually get mainstream distribution?
I'll continue as I always have writing poems and compiling them into a book as and when I feel they are good enough. Mainstream distribution would be nice but it's doubtful and I don't dwell on this option at all. If it ever happens it would help but I’ll continue as I always have.


-Dave Wolff

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