What inspired you to personify the darker sides of humanity into your poems, and what inspires the darkness in your verse?
I really don't know why I choose to write along the darker side of the imagination. I find the lyrical sense of the dark descriptive words to be enticing, they have such a great sounding flow to them, little small rhythmical nuances all of their own. I do believe that in itself is high on the list for the way I write. I also like my poetry to give the reader a sense of scenery and a storyline to follow… even if it is a completely bizarre twisted story and a bit scary. I admit I don't necessarily see the depth of darkness that some people have told me I am writing. I am creating poetry that is dark, yes, but to me they are words just telling a rhythmical story. I also dabble in other genres of poetry including children's, nature, emotions, really whatever comes to me in the moment. Though I do tend towards the darker verse.
Were there poets you read when younger whose work leaned toward darkness? Did reading their work make you want to do something similar?
Not really… I sadly will admit that I am not well read on classic dark poets or really any poetry bar childhood nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss. It wasn't really something that was taught when I was in high school. I really have very little literary knowledge of poetry (now I feel like an imposter)… so I've thought about it and I would have to say my "poets" were more listened to than read. I would say my influences were brought about more by musicians.
How deeply do your readers perceive the dark themes you express through your writing? Are you generally surprised to hear about the depth they see in your work?
I have received some comments on a few poems I have posted on Facebook, majority of it is good but I do get the occasional reader that I guess takes it a bit too seriously and then asks why I would write a poem where some guys eyes pop out of his head… I write what comes to me… I honestly don't sit down and think hmmmm I might just write a poem about crushing a guy's skull, my writing process doesn't work that way, it's just what my imagination reveals to me as I write. The way the words work. I have learnt that people will read what they want, into anything, not just dark verse. What I intend for the words to say, others will read differently. Every person has their own interpretation, each has their own reality. I used to be surprised by certain comments, but they were generally the encouraging ones.
How important is creating scenery in your poems. In what ways does doing so enhance the stories you capture on paper and make your verses more enticing?
I enjoy creating a sense of the surroundings, I feel (well, I hope) that it makes it easier to visualize in the reader's mind what is occurring or about to. I don't want to write something and portray some guy just standing in a boring graveyard. I like to visualize it, how the trees would be swaying, and the effect of the shadows that are being cast on tombstones by filtered moonlight, the strange surrounding noises from the dark that send shivers up your spine. I like to believe it makes my verse more enticing to the reader by allowing themselves to immerse themselves fully in the scene I'm setting, to be able to sense that chill fickle breeze playfully teasing across their skin, while they are standing in the middle of a dark and foreboding place. Some of my poetry is quite basic especially the earlier stuff I wrote, though I do feel I have grown more elaborate with my poetic style over the past eighteen months that I have been writing.
As you are not influenced by any specific poet, do you feel your writing is something more original?
I really don't think I'm qualified to answer that question… I hope what I write, and the way that I write is different. Going by the other poetry that I have seen on Facebook since I started posting my own rambles, I can see that I have my own style but how original it exactly is… is kind of a moot question for me, as I am the person creating it, you would have to ask other people if they find it original… I will say that there are a lot of fantastic writers I have read on social media, since starting to write my own poetry, and all have their own unique style. I have always just tried to be true to the way I want to write, to pen it how I want to read it. And if others enjoy it as well … that's an added bonus.
How have musicians influenced you, and what are the reasons bands are more inspirational to you than poets?
I guess by growing up listening to what I consider to be a lot of great bands and musicians… there is poetry in lyrics, just as poetry can be quite lyrical in its own right. Musicians such as Janis Joplin, The Doors, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and many more have all the rhymes and nuances that poetry can have, though it is set to some cool music. Listening to all these different artists, the music, the words, the different styles and meanings of the lyrics… how could it not be inspirational.
I can see how those bands inspired you, especially The Doors, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. But they all had lyrics that were thought provoking and encouraged your imagination. Jim Morrison always wanted to be known as a poet more than a singer. Does any line written by him and the other bands you mention prove particularly inspirational?
Are you saying my poetry isn't thought provoking or encouraging to the imagination? Hahaha. Maybe it isn't, unless you want bad dreams. I don't feel that it is any particular line of lyrics, more so the whole effect of certain songs, like Riders On The Storm. The lyrics are dark, but it is the combination of his words with the rainstorm effects collaborated into the actual song that brings it to a whole different level. The combination of elements is what speaks to me, the passion that they have/had for their work. The depth of what can be portrayed through all the different sounds. I know poetry is more limited in that aspect but I try to make my poems sound as rhythmical as I can.
Was Riders On The Storm the first song that you found more visual? Did you discover others that had the same effect on you
Yes and no, I'm sure there were plenty of others. Just that particular song was the easiest to pick to explain my thoughts on the different conceptual ideas in music and how they can be used. One other song that always stood out to me is Metallica's "One". Such a brilliant way to show the atrocities and heartache of war, and what is left after the fact. They depict it so well, not just with their lyrics but all the elements that they use in that song.
One was also a landmark video, as it was released in a time when most bands were filming “titties and beer” videos. Metallica added a touch of reality to metal videos and it has remained influential to this day. How did the video speak to you?
The video is mesmerizing, I was about fourteen when I first saw it and it really touched me. What they portray is an extreme end result for some poor young soldier… but it made me wonder how many soldiers actually ended up in similar (though not quite as extreme) situations. Not only being burdened with physical injuries, but also the sense of being trapped mentally. It is a brilliant song and powerful video.
Who are the writers whose work you have read on social media, and what speaks to you about them?
There are so many writers on social media, when I first started posting my own words I used to read a lot of different poetry (but there is sooo much). Some are amazing, a lot are mediocre. But I don't think it is my place to judge what other's write, poetry is a form of expression. Yes, some are more eloquent in the use of their words, but even the most badly worded poetry means something, even if it is only to the person who wrote it. I guess because of my own style I prefer rhyming verse, more so than prose, and the writes that I like show some of the writer's soul in them.
Whose poems specifically stood out to you when you began posting your work on social media? On which social media sites do you read the most engaging poems?
Three guys really stood out to me… DS Scott and his page 'Sulphur & Silk', Chris Hewitt, and his page 'Chris's Delusions' and last but definitely not least… Lemmy Rushmore. Their writing styles were well versed with not too bad of a meter… though Lemmy is fantastic with rhyme and meter, DS has some nicely twisted writes and Chris does a range of dark and thoughtful poetry. As for the media sites… there are just so many, and a lot of the other writers on Facebook especially tend to post to multiple groups, so you get to see a wide range of poetry (some engaging… some not so much) on any site you go into.
Did you feel inspired to contact DS Scott, Chris Hewitt and Lemmy Rushmore after reading their work?
I honestly didn't hold myself in any comparison to their writing and I'm not the sort of person to approach people. We were all in similar poetry groups on Facebook and would comment and like each other's poems, after a few months they contacted me.
Would you say movies are influential to you as well as musicians, horror, gore, slasher or otherwise?
I'm actually not a huge fan of horror movies, yes I have watched a few and some are okay, others are just a bit too far-fetched for me. I don't mind the blood and gore parts so much, but it needs to have a decent storyline itself otherwise I lose interest.
Name some of the horror movies with storylines that have kept you interested? When you watch horror movies, what do you look for in a storyline?
I don't watch many but a couple that come to mind that I have watched recently, are… Last House On The Left, the storyline itself was a bit brutal but realistic, loved the ending of that one, so funny. And the other is Rose Red… I love the house, and I find the existence of ghosts to be more believable (but not so much a house consuming them), I like Rose Red for the visual aspect of the home as much as anything else. I love old decrepit houses, they seem to have their own tales to tell. If I watch horror movies I prefer if the storyline has some sort of realism to it, not just a chop and kill theme.
What do you remember most vividly from the house in Rose Red? Are there houses in similar movies that made an impression on you?
The presence… I know atmosphere in movies is created by special effects, music and the rest, but certain homes, buildings have a presence. I was once able to walk through an old mental hospital that was to be demolished, (my partner's job) No, I didn't see any ghosts, but I certainly wasn't comfortable… some of the rooms, those ones with bolts on the heavy doors, the walls with only a tiny slit of a window set high above anyone's reach, they seemed to emanate a very angry presence. Also in what I guess would have been considered the common room, there was an atmosphere of sadness. Even though it had very large windows and was quite sunny, it was cold.
Can you quote some of the more memorable feedback your poems have received from your readers?
The most memorable are for the wrong reasons… once I was accused of plagiarism in a poetry group on Facebook. I had worked extremely hard on this one particular poem inspired by the most magnificent picture I had seen, I emailed and sent messages to contact the artist to ask permission to use his picture to accompany my poem and waited weeks for a response and was extremely happy when he agreed I could use it. Then this guy reposted my poem saying it wasn't mine that he had already seen the same post before by another. After a lot of drama and conversation he admitted that he was wrong and apologized, that was definitely a learning experience. I had only been writing for maybe four months when that occurred.
The other, a lady told me that she hated to "burst my bubble" but was appalled at the bad grammar I had used in my poem and that as an English speaking writer I should know better (but put much less politely than that)… I thanked her for her comment and then informed her that there was no "bubble to burst" as I don't consider myself to be a professional writer. I write what I feel, whether it is grammatically correct or not… She actually inspired a poem, not that she knows that… and it was truly grammatically incorrect.
Who was the artist whose picture you based your poem on? Was you correspondence with him just one-off or are you still in touch with him?
Igor Zenin is the artist, and the picture I requested to be allowed to use is called "Dancing Trees”. The correspondence was with his sister and only once off. I have recently seen some new art by him as I still follow him via Facebook, his work is so beautiful and unique.
In what ways are Igor Zenin’s pictures unique alongside others who work in his field? Does he have any pieces you would particularly want to describe?
I personally just like his work. It's beautiful photography sometimes with a twist. My favourite picture of his is the one I wrote the poem for, you can see bare trees in the background shadowing through hazy muted sunlight and in the foreground you can see silhouettes of women in dance, the bodies of the women are the trunks of the trees which continue to grow out of their heads, they have branches for arms yet the rest of their silhouette, the legs and torso are completely feminine.
Quote a few lines from your poem based on Dancing Trees and explain how they fit the imagery in the graphic?
Igor Zenin’s picture is called "Dancing Trees", the poem I wrote is titled "Do Trees Dance?"
These are the 4th and 5th stanzas…
Long elegant limbs
Now empty and bare,
Still sway with the winds
With unabashed care
When a playful breeze blows
They move and they sigh,
Is this because they can't
Dance under watchful eye
In a way I'm just trying to capture an essence of what I see in the picture… the silhouettes are the trees caught in their pose, their arms as limbs with the bare remnants of leaves scattered on them. The female form of the dancers is the main part of the tree, with their legs and feet captured in a moment of dance as well. In the picture to me it looks as if they are almost playing musical statues and someone stopped the music so they are then frozen in time, yet you can still sense their desire to sway and dance.
Was your collaboration with Igor Zenin the only one you worked on, or were there others you were involved in?
That was the only time I have written to one of Igor's pictures. I was so inspired by it I just wrote what I felt, but as I had only been writing a couple months I honestly never believed that he would agree for me to use his picture with my poem. So I was and am extremely grateful that he allowed me to do so. I have noticed he has a new line of pictures out, which are fantastic. I need to go and look closer at them though to see if any inspiration comes to me.
Where can Zenin’s new photos be viewed on the web? So far have you found anything you could base some verses on?
He is on Facebook, but you may also view his work and the products he sells them on via Redbubble. I have seen many that have caught my attention. I really do love the pictures of the trees that he takes. I like the stark contrasts that he manages to capture, how the darkened wood is twisted and gnarled, creating unusual shapes within themselves, set against different backgrounds of sunsets, water, and snow. There are many pictures of his that I would like to try to write to, but I don't like to force my inspiration. I take it as it comes to me.
How visual and descriptive were your earliest poems when you made your first attempts to write?
I feel my earlier poems were still descriptive, just in a different way. A more simplified way. My vocabulary has grown so my writing naturally has grown as well. I look back at some of my earlier writes and see a lot of things that I wouldn't do now… but that is part of the learning process and finding your own rhythm.
How long did it take you to find your own rhythm and convey your thoughts more descriptively?
I really couldn't say. I didn't necessarily notice the change as it occurred, I just feel what I write now is better than what I wrote when I started. I don't think my style as such has changed that much, though now I do tend to elaborate a bit more. Try to set more of an atmosphere especially if I am writing a darker poem. To me, it is more just the placement of words in their lines and how I read them back to myself, like in my poem Do Trees Dance? In the last stanza which I showed earlier. Now when I read it back to myself I think I would change the placement of one word in the last two lines… “Is this because they can't/Dance under watchful eye” to “Is this because they can't dance/Under watchful eye.” It's not really anything big, just small changes like that.
Which of your poems do you remember from when you started writing? What about those poems did you decide you needed to improve?
I read back over my poetry occasionally, I have a few favourites. I didn't necessarily decide that I needed to improve or change the way I write, it just occurred the more I wrote. When I read my earlier poems, some I still really like, others I can see where I would now change the line ends and the placement of certain words. I guess as I wrote more my meter and rhythm improved and I can see the difference to my early work.
Which of your older poems are still favorites, and which do you think could have used improvement?
I think they are all favourites in their own ways, some have more meaning to me than others, but one of my utmost favourites would be 'Wickee The Unicorn" it was inspired by my daughter. She heard the song Women In Uniform by The Skyhooks when we were driving one day and she got so excited that it was a song about a unicorn, it inspired me to write a poem based off her translation of the song's title… and the song will forever be Wickee The Unicorn from now on. As for improvement in my poems, I find fault in nearly all my poems after I have posted or published them. As I reread them I sort of think I could have made that flow better or that word just doesn't sit the way it should, or the fact I've used the same descriptive word more than once. Just little personal quirks.
Do you have an intuition that these small changes will make the poems read better or are you just tightening them up?
A little bit of both, I'd say. Changing the placement of the words definitely changes the way I read a poem. I am really trying harder to make my poetry flow better, so as you are reading them you get caught up in the rhythm of the words as much as the actual story or subject itself. I personally find when I do read other people's writes that if I struggle to find the rhythm in their words, I don't enjoy the poem as much. I guess that is why I favour rhyming verse to prose, I like the melody that a good metered rhyme shows.
How closely did your poem based on Women In Uniform fit your daughter’s interpretation of the song?
Well she was only four when she heard the song, so her thoughts were only that it was a song about a unicorn. My poem is based off the title she gave me. I think it is a lovely little children's poem about a shy unicorn that would only sing when he was alone, but one day a friend hears him and encourages him to share his talent with others. Which he does and realizes it isn't so scary. It is my poem to my child to encourage her to do the same... to be true to herself, to have belief in herself and be proud of what she can do.
Can you describe what your poems are intended to evoke in your readers?
I really don't intend to evoke anything in anyone, I write pretty much for my own amusement or sanity, depending how you wish to look at it… if what I write touches someone that is great but not something I actually aim towards. My darker poetry I don't write to scare or inflict negative thoughts, it's just what comes to me. My more emotional/feeling writing has sometimes been based on friends, sometimes myself, sometimes just a random thought. I don't believe that what or how I write is really that great, but others seem to like it.
What frame of mind do you have to be in to write your darker poetry?
Strangely enough just my normal frame of mind, (not really sure what that says about me though). Random words just seem to pop into my head, a couple sentences that I'll think of, and then I just continue on from there. I never really know where I'm going to take my poems they tend to just come as I write. I have written to prompts... a picture or for an anthology… and even with them I don't have any set story line in mind when I start, I create as I go.
Have you written any poems for anthologies, or submitted any? If not is this something you’d do to reach more readers?
I have had seventeen poems published in five different anthologies and three poems in another yet to be released. One of which is the opening poem for the book (very proud of this fact). Most of my published work has been through JWK Publishing and JEA Press, and all of it has been darker/horror poetry. The majority of my published work is rhyming poetry but I do have a few prose works published as well. My favourite anthology that I have written for so far would have to be 'Toys In The Attic'. It's a beautiful collaboration of a lot of different writers and each poem and story has a corresponding picture to suit. And they specifically wanted rhyming poetry, which suited me just fine.
Name the anthologies your work has appeared in and explain how you published them through JWK Publishing and JEA Press. How much have all of them gotten around and attracted a readership?
Okay… the first anthology I was published in was just a small collection of poems put together by Patrick Royal, called Poems of the Horror Society III. It was a collection from writers in the group 'I Am Poetry' on Facebook. Then came Bones III, Hell II: Citizens, Cellar Door III: Animals, Doorway To Death, Toys In The Attic and the one yet to be released is Suburban Secrets: Ghosts And Graveyards. A friend got me onto the submission calls... the publishers send out the call saying what the subject matter is, how many words etc. I really wasn't that interested to start with especially after several rejections early on, but I persisted and obviously have succeeded on a small scale. I have absolutely no idea if the books sold well or not, or if they attracted any new readers to my writes. I do have a small Facebook page but I couldn't say if those books brought any new members or not.
Who are the other poets published in those anthologies with you? Where can those publications be purchased?
Lori R. Lopez, Mary Genevieve Fortier, Lisa Dabrowski, Mimi Rogers, Howard Carlyle, T.s Woolard, Lemmy Rushmore, David Schutz II and DS Scott to name but a few. There are also numerous authors and artists included as the anthologies are not just poetry but include great short stories and amazing illustrations. I know they are all on Amazon but which other sites, I'm not really sure.
How did it feel to have your writings published with so many authors? Which of the other writers are personal favorites?
Surreal and humbling, I really don't see myself as a poet or writer and to have my mere rambles published alongside so many other writers, is and was quite amazing. I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I must have a small amount of talent when it comes to poetry, but it is still hard to believe that I have accomplished what I have without intentionally meaning to do so. I tend to favour the same style of writing that I do myself, as in rhyming verse. All of the writers are extremely talented in their own way, but my favourites are definitely Mary Genevieve Fortier, Lori R. Lopez, Lemmy Rushmore & DS Scott. I love the balance and rhythm that their poetry has, they are rhythmical stories in poetic form.
How many rejections were there before your work was published in the anthologies? Do you own copies of any of them?
I received five or six rejections, whilst also having some poems accepted. So it was a bit of a mixed bag. I think a lot of the rejections were based on the fact that what I had written didn't quite fit the genre of what they wanted for the anthologies, some were based on the style of my poetry though. Not all publishers like rhyming verse I have learnt, but that's ok. Live and learn. And yes, I do own a paperback copy of each anthology book I have been published in. My own little collection.
Since you have had so much experience at writing poems, how do you think you would do at writing fiction?
I have been asked this before, and I honestly don't know if I'd have the patience and persistence to write anything longer than what I do write… but who knows… if you had told me two years ago that I would be a published writer of poetry in several anthologies, I would have laughed. And I've persisted with this interview which is certainly the longest thing I've ever written. So you never know.
If you did decide to start writing fiction, would you take the inspiration as you do for your poems?
Probably. I know no other way. I have talked to a friend of mine, he does poetry, short stories and even scripts for some audio programs. He is writing a book... he has an 'idea' a 'concept' of what he wants to portray, he has his characters formed and growing in his mind, a fair idea of the plot, the twists and turns that he would like it to take, how he would like it to end. I don't write that way and I'm not sure if I could. So if I ever did attempt more fiction based writing, it would probably be very messy, random and unstructured. And no doubt it would still have spots that rhyme… I just can't help myself sometimes.