NOW, I KNOW YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL ROMANCE WRITER, BUT YOUR POLITICAL POETRY IS AMAZING. I’M A HUGE FAN OF YOUR INSTAGRAM POEMS.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE A POET? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST POEM ABOUT?
I used to write poetry as a teenager. It was angst filled unrequited love poetry. It was often intended to be song lyrics even though I had no idea how to write music to go with them. But in grad school, I started writing more serious poetry and translating the thoughts I had about society into poetry rather than keeping those thoughts to myself. I felt them as if I had discovered my true purpose in life — poetry. I think that’s one of the major things I’m here to do.
I AM ALWAYS IMPRESSED BY THE VARIETY OF PROJECTS YOU ARE WORKING ON: POETRY, ROMANCE, SMUT, NOW THE DEVELOPMENT OF A PRESS. CAN YOU OFFER A GLIMPSE OF HOW YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORKS?
My writing process for fiction: Sit in the chair and make it happen. No excuses. Write. My process for poetry: Poetry just comes to me. I could be walking along, and a poem will hit me. Then I have to stop and write it down. This sometimes happens as much as five or six times a day, so I have a lot of poems to sift through for my upcoming book . . . .
HOW INVOLVED IS YOUR CAT IN YOUR WRITING PROCESS AND IS SHE A HARSH CRITIC? HOW OFTEN DO YOU REWARD HER WITH CATNIP?
I had to rent a coworking space to get away from my cat. When I’m home, she is intent on keeping me from work. She gets catnip every now and then. Not often enough if you ask her. She likes my poetry, but thinks the romance novels could use improvement.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE POETRY GENRE?
Favorite Poetry Genre? Hmmm. Poems about social justice issues, of course. Since that’s what I most often write about. I write these poems in hopes that someone who needs them will hear them or read them, and it may inspire them to fight back against our oppressors. Reading this kind of poetry at open mics and other venues often means I am not the most popular person in the room, but that’s ok. If anyone wants to upset their Republican relatives they should buy them one of my books for Christmas.
WHAT GENRE(S) WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE MORE EFFECTIVE IN?
I started posting Instagram poetry because I’m trying to disrupt the usual Instagram poetry that is mostly very simple love poems or poems about depression, etc. I got poems about depression, but they’re often too long and complex for Instagram. So I’m trying to write a little shorter, but stick to my usual topics of the various societal issues like homelessness, inequality, Donald Trump’s endless lies, etc. I want to be more effective at getting my point across in fewer lines — so that my poems can be more Instagram friendly.
WHAT THREE KERNELS OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER? A SEASONED WRITER?
Advice for new writers: 1.) Don’t quit. 2.) Write often. Writer’s block has no power over you unless you allow it to. 3.) You aren’t a writer unless you write. If you really want this then you have to sit in the chair and do it. Advice for seasoned writers: Don’t quit. You’re gonna want to quit everyday at some point during the day. You’re gonna hate what you wrote and then hate yourself, because clearly you must be a fraud, right? Push through those feelings. Don’t be discouraged. Smoke some weed. Drink some Irish coffee and get right back to it. You are someone’s favorite author — I have had people write reviews where they say that I’m their favorite romance writer. I must not be as terrible as I sometimes think I am!
I THINK AS WRITERS, WE ALL FALL INTO PITS OF DESPAIR. IF YOU GET DOWN, WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF THAT CEREBRAL AND EMOTIONAL QUICKSAND?
I get out of the emotional quicksand by taking a deep breath and putting my fingers back on the keyboard where they belong.
IF YOU COULD MEET ONE AUTHOR, DEAD OR ALIVE, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
I wish I could meet Neeli Cherkovski. His “Elegy for Bob Kaufman” is one of the most stunning books of poetry I’ve ever read. Also Jack Hirschman. Meeting Sarah Menefee was beyond amazing.
PLEASE, TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPCOMING WRITING PROJECTS, ESPECIALLY YOUR NEW PRESS WHICH I AM EXCITED ABOUT. WHAT MAKES YOUR PRESS UNIQUE? SPEAK TO THE CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS.
There are no calls for submissions yet for Honeybees for Peace Press, but there will be early next year after I publish issue 3 of Caravel Literary Arts Journal. The press is intended to publish books of political activist poetry.
ONE LAST FANTASY QUESTION: DO YOU THINK WRITING CAN TRANSFORM THE WORLD? IF SO HOW?
Writing can transform the world. It does for me anyway. Even if all it accomplished on any given day is to fill my mind with beauty or hope then it has changed my world for that day. But when people hear poetry about the issues in our society, I hope that it gets us thinking about how we might change the world. We can have a world based on cooperation instead of corporate greed, and writing a vision for that new world can help get people out and fighting for change. Maybe someone reads a poem that you wrote about homelessness and then goes out and fights for housing rights/healthcare for all/etc. It can and does happen — I’m sure of it.
WHERE CAN READERS FIND YOU ONLINE OR ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Find me on Instagram as @commiepoet and on Facebook as Eric Allen Yankee Poet. Twitter: @ericallenyankee
ERIC, I KNOW YOU ARE SUMPREMLY BUSY. THANK YOU FOR SPARING A BIT OF YOUR TIME FOR ME AND MY READERS! I HOPE WE DO THIS SOON.