A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Ethan McGuire

with Ethan McGuire:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Ethan: I started trying to write little stories and essays as soon as I could spell, but I did not take my writing seriously until high school. Up to that point, I would write some things down but keep very little. Mostly, I would just make up stories while doing chores on my parents’ hobby farm, or I would dream about
making a living as an outdoors writer for Field & Stream when I grew up, or I would sit at a picnic bench in front of a PVC pipe—pretending the pipe was a microphone—and act like I was reading some radio commentary I had composed.

I never actually took my own writing seriously until the tenth grade, when an English teacher, Dr. Seibert, handed me a writing assignment. I don’t remember the details of that assignment, but I do remember exactly the poem it worked out of me. Something clicked in me then, and I knew, from that moment, I simply had to become a writer.

My first big influence was definitely Louis L’Amour. I consumed his books as a kid. I loved his writing style; loved all the real, lived details he injected into his prose; loved the way he described his
characters’ surroundings—especially the American West—as if the Earth itself was poetry, both magical and mean. I was influenced by various outdoors writers, as I mentioned, in the tradition of Ernest
Hemmingway, because I wanted to brave the harsh elements of the more primitive world and tell people about my adventures. Then, I discovered Milton, reading Paradise Lost in high school. Milton put
me on the path to writing poetry. I had written poetry for sure, but Milton showed me poetry could give me the same feelings of awe and amazement that music did.

Amazon.com: The Sky-Liners: The Sacketts (9780553276879): L'Amour, Louis:  Books

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Ethan: When it comes to writing non-fiction, I have a hard time knowing my biggest influences. I love the movie
reviews of Roger Ebert and Pauline Kael; the historical writing of Stephen Ambrose, Bruce Catton, and Shelby Foote; and the lay theology writing of C.S. Lewis. I love so many others too. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I like too much art!

When it comes to poetry, I can speak better. Probably because I have been focusing most of my recent writing efforts on poetry. I skip fiction because I haven’t written much of it lately.

At the moment, if I were to call myself a disciple of any particular writer, I would single out the poet Dana Gioia. Gioia constantly impresses me with the way he works in both formal and free verse, as well as essays and criticism. One of my personal writing goals is to bring together both old and new poetic styles, which Gioia does. I also appreciate that he works in the literary world without ever being
condescending toward working class readers, toward any non-literary readers, and I appreciate how he brings our attention to the primitive, oral, memorized tradition of poetry. Just consider his
accomplishments as NEA chairman, the “Poetry Out Loud” program, and his “Can Poetry Matter?” essay.

Also, I must mention, I probably receive the most artistic inspiration from music, especially from such artists as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Joni Mitchell. Their lyrics coupled with their music give me chills! They speak directly to the human experience, like Hank Williams, Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon . . . the list goes on. I feel Cohen’s “tower of song” behind me as I write for sure, and, of course, there is always the struggle to hew out one’s own style and voice.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Ethan: I grew up as a hillbilly, really, in the Missouri Ozarks, and I have enjoyed the art of storytelling ever since,well, from before I can remember. My family, on my father’s side, is extremely proud of our Irish heritage, and they have always loved that Irish people have a great reputation as storytellers. As a little
kid at family or church get-togethers, I would sit down and soak up all those stories. Unfortunately, I was never the best at memorization or the oral storytelling tradition, but what I did memorize was the
feelings I experienced listening to the grown-ups tell tales. It was exciting to step into a story in its telling, to imagine along with a speaker.

At about eight years old, I began playing music with my family and friends, and we did that just about every day. Bluegrass, folk, Gospel. In living rooms with huge pots of coffee, on front porches with jugs of sweet tea, at backwoods church “singings,” at outdoor festivals in the heat of the sun, this hill music was forever present in my life, and it gave me a love for poetry.

My parents instilled in me a love for reading too, and I read voraciously as a child, anything I could get my hands on. When the love for storytelling and reading met in me with the act of creating music, I began to want to write my own stories as well.

This hillbilly influence we can call it, that is definitely present in my writing. In the rhythms, the subjects, the word choices, even in my outlook on life. The mountains, the folk music, the hill people’s
superstitions, the fire-and-brimstone preachers, my grandparents telling me about their Great Depression childhoods . . . I find these thumbprints in my writing all the time.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work?

Ethan: Moving away from my home in the Ozarks definitely influenced me in that I gained a wider perspective
of the world. Even though most people travel around the country, and even though many people travel around the world, the majority live most their lives where they grew up. Now, this is not necessarily a problem, if people have grown up in a community and stay within that community to thrive, and to help others and the environment around them thrive. As Wendell Berry teaches us, we all need to find
communities and contribute to them, which we cannot do if we are jumping ship every few years.
However, living, even temporarily, in a different environment among different people reminds one of how great the wide world is.

Now, currently I have chosen to live on the Emerald Coast, in Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Living near the sea has enriched my soul. We forget how powerful a force water is on our planet, and constantly being near a gigantic body of water makes you confront that fact, which I try to do on a regular basis.
Countless poets have described the sea, but it never ceases to amaze me. It is such a naturally poetic force, the majesty, the repetition of the waves, the formed formlessness, the wildness tamed in some
way that we hardly even understand.

I have always traveled around the U.S. quite a bit too, although I still need to visit other countries. That I haven’t left America yet is a major weak spot for me. But my parents always traveled, and my wife and I do too, so that gives my writing a sort of restlessness. I certainly am forever wrestling with conflicting desires of individuality and community, which does pop up in my work.

Q5: Any pivotal moments when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Ethan: Music first seduced me as a kid in church, a country church where anyone who wanted to play music was welcome to join in, especially during evening services or monthly “singings.” I would play around with a ruler or something, pretending to pluck an instrument. My father played mandolin, so around eight I decided, “Hey, I want to play the mandolin too!” After learning mandolin, then came guitar, bass, a little singing, helping arrange, writing my own songs. It all happened gradually, but I guess I’ve always
loved music.

Of course, my love for music smoothly transitioned into a love for poetry, especially since I have always enjoyed analyzing lyrics and the way they work with the music around them. That first assignment from Dr. Seibert—where I realized I had to be a writer, if not by profession, by passion—I turned in a poem for that assignment, called “The Warriors.” Actually, an extremely revised version of that poem, called “The Woodsman,” may surface soon from me, so I won’t say much more. My first published piece of writing was a poem too, called “Snow,” with which I won a poetry/picture contest, when I was in tenth grade, a few months after having written “The Warriors.”

So, at that point, I was off to the races, reading anything I could like I had done for years but now with even more purpose, and writing in any genre I could imagine. Paradise Lost, though, as I said, that is the
first time poetry truly awed and amazed me, the way Milton employs blank verse there along with a fantastic vocabulary and imagination in his wonderful retelling of Creation and the Fall of Man. Lines like
this still give me chills:

. . . Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquished, rolling in the firey gulf,
Confounded though immortal. . .

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Ethan: I love the Emerald Coast’s white-sand beaches and warm water. The sunsets we have down here on the
Emerald Coast are breathtaking, all orange fire and navy and lavender. It never gets old. I enjoy kayaking with my wife, taking our young chocolate Labrador out, hiking, being with friends, visiting restaurants, traveling, watching movies, reading, playing and listening to music. Honestly, I probably like too many
things! I need to be more judicious. I like to stay busy but am trying to learn that a certain amount of boredom actually has some value. I need it for my mental health!

Q7: Do you have any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Ethan: Sure! I would definitely encourage anyone interested in my work to visit my website TheFlummoxed.com where I post my writer’s journey, and I post other stuff too, usually creative writing,
like new poems, essays, etc. that I do not want to submit elsewhere for various reasons. You can follow me on Twitter as well, at @AHeavyMetalPen, where I am most active these days. In the last five months, you here at Fevers of the Mind have published seven poems of mine of which I am quite proud, and I am honored that you have included me in the writing community you are building. Plus, I am currently working on my first poetry collection, which, of course, I hope someone will publish! I appreciate self- publishing, but for one, I am not good at design, not much good at all, and for two, I desire to have some kind of writer/editor collaboration.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Ethan: For this question, I will give you something from one of my favorite poems that I have written and something from one of my favorite songs.

First, my own work. Here is a little more than one line, rather a stanza, the small chunk of my writing that I have thought about most the last several months. This is one of my favorite stanzas from my poem “Salt,” which appeared in Fevers of the Mind on February 23rd, in your “Avalanches in Poetry” series:

My upward way is at once my downward.
The downward path, it rises up likewise.
God sees all time present for forever.
I am not God; the night still spreads outside.

For some reason, that stanza regularly spins on repeat in my head.

For a quote from one of my favorite songs, here is my favorite part from the song which most heavily influenced my poem “Salt,” Leonard Cohen’s “The Future,” the bridge of that song:

Things are going to slide,
Slide in all directions.
Won’t be nothing,
Won’t be nothing,
You can measure anymore.
The blizzard,
The blizzard of the world
Has crossed the threshold,
And it’s overturned
The order of the soul.

I think about Cohen’s “The Future” a lot these days, right alongside Krzysztof Kieślowski’s excellent film series The Three Colors Trilogy. Both Cohen’s album The Future and Kieślowski’s Three Colors trilogy
were released in the same period, the early 1990s, a time of great change and unrest. The Berlin wall was coming down, the European Union was coming up, a changing of the guards was occurring all over the world. Both Cohen and Kieślowski were at once optimistic and pessimistic about these changes. Our world is shaking up again, so I run to the wisdom of those who have gone before us.

Q9: Who has helped you most with with writing?

Ethan: First and foremost, I must mention my parents, siblings, and wife, who have given me invaluable encouragement in all my creative pursuits. My mother encouraged me to read. My father led me to
think critically about all art. My siblings supported me with kind words and collaboration, especially in music.

My wife urges me to pursue creative projects, and she reads and critiques my work; any time I get stuck, she nudges me in a better direction. For example, oftentimes I will be working on a poem, essay, etc., and she will give me some advice completely against current conventions. I will usually take her advice,
but not quite understand it, although I can see that her advice is good. Then, later, I will hear some writer most special to me give the same advice in a lecture or something, and I always think, “Dang!
Maybe my wife should be the writer!”

After my family, there are a few people who jump into my mind.

Andrea Walker, as the editor of the West Florida Literary Federation’s The Legend, published my first poem when I came out of a creative writing publishing hiatus. In the September 2019 issue of The
Legend
, Andrea published my poem “Newlywed Song,” which kicked off my transition from primarily publishing non-fiction—especially music and film criticism—to primarily publishing creative writing. The
last thing I had had published of that nature was my contest winner, “Snow,” back in 2009. Andrea went on to publish other pieces from me in The Legend and Life in the Time of Corona, and she is involved in another project of which I will be a part soon. She has always had kind words for my work.

Two other women in the West Florida Literary Federation had a motivating influence on me also, Juliet DeMarko and Debra Stogner. I was in a biweekly poetry workshop with Juliet and Debra, among others, for a little while, and they helped lead me back to the poetry road. In that same vein, I am a member of an online writing community called “The Poetry Pub,” led by Jen and Chris Yokel who have helped me gain confidence in my writing, along with other members like Chris Wheeler, Janna Barber, Shigé Clark,
and Una Kavanagh. Talking about writing communities—and I know “community” is a word I have used a lot; repeating words is a tendency of mine, for good and for bad; let’s call it poetry—I am privileged to be part of the ones built by David O’Nan here at Fevers of the Mind and Brenda Stephens at The Dark Sire.

Finally, I would be remiss if I went without mentioning my friend David Malone, with whom I returned to writing in the first place with our website “E.D. – Music, Movies, Etc.” We are not very active on “E.D.” (yes, the name is a joke), but it is still up. Writing there gave me the courage to share my work with the public.

Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Ethan McGuire

New Poem : The King & Queen Of Neon by Ethan McGuire

5 micro-poems by Ethan McGuire “Home” “Good Weather Bad” “The Warm Front” “Burnt World-Heart” & “Thorn & Shout”

Salt by Ethan McGuire poetry entry for Avalanches in Poetry 2 Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen

EIC: David L O’Nan is the Saturday Feature on Cajun Mutt Press with old storytelling poetry

These stories/poems/writing series were done around 2005/2006. The Bible Belt Bachelor originally was a book I was writing and eventually got bored writing since I had the whole book done in my mind, but had to do all the work. I guess when I was 24, I wasn’t quite ready to do that. I eventually chopped up what I wrote, and yet had fully written out and made several poems from the scraps. I also was writing several poem series at this time and the News Stand, a series of poems about a delusional addict struggling with the battles of mental health, drugs, and depression. The poems are on the link below with Cajun Mutt Press.

https://cajunmuttpress.wordpress.com/2021/07/24/c-m-p-saturday-special-feature/

And check my other links too.

Wolfpack Contributor EIC Bios: David L O’Nan & HilLesha O’Nan

Poem “Alone In My Car” by David L O’Nan

Poem by David L O’Nan : “Cartoon”

3 poems by David L O’Nan : Chameleon or Stallion, The Blood of the North Star & What is American Freedom?

Poem by David L O’Nan : “Clearly!” (2005) (Poetry, writings)

Poems by David L O’Nan : A Prince Was Born on Chartreuse Street & short poems

The Severance of Your Genius (in Little Papercuts) by David L O’Nan (poetry)

All of the poems (revised) from Avalanches in Poetry Writings & Art Inspired by Leonard Cohen by David L O’Nan

Tomorrow’s my birthday so more poetry by David L O’Nan : Poetry Series Chronicles of an 80’s childhood in segments & more

Slightly odd at times Micropoetry by David L O’Nan

Poetry series by David L O’Nan : Dreams as Told by the Aesthetic Sunlight

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Anton Pooles

with Anton Pooles:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Anton:

I have always love fairy tales and fantasy, but I never planned on becoming a writer or more specifically a poet. I struggled with reading and writing as a child, and honestly still do, so I had
probably convinced myself I could never be a writer, but somehow, I fell into it. In my mid-twenties I re-discovered many of the Arthurian Romance poems that I had enjoyed reading when I was in
high school and I started writing poems in that style. Poems like “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” and “Lady of the Lake” by Sir Walter Scott we defiantly my entry point for poetry. The plan
was to add these poems into the fairy stories I was writing at the time, but it opposite occurred and the fairy stories found their way into the poems.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Anton:

I’m often find I am more heavily influenced through visual mediums like film and art than I am with writing. I struggled with reading a great deal when I was a child and still do honestly, but I have
always been in love with film. Most of my greatest influencers have been filmmaker like Fritz Lang and Andrei Tarkovsky. One of the most important would have to be Guillermo Del Toro. He has
become a kind of spiritual mentor of mine.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

Anton: I was raised in Toronto, but I’m not sure it has ever influenced my writing a great deal. However, there are two places I always seem to come back to. The first is a cottage in Brighton, Ontario that
my parents had when I was a child. I spent a good chuck of my childhood there and so it has become the location for a lot of my poems. The second is the city I was born in, which was
Novosibirsk, Siberia. I left when I was a baby, I have never been back and I have no memory of it, but it gnaws at me as a good ghost should.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your writing?

Anton: I have always been fascinated by Vincent Van Gogh and I have always wanted to write something about him. I got the chance to go to the South of France a few years ago and I was able to visit and stay in certain places that he had been. That got me working on a series of poems about him. So, I guess the answer is, yes.

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

Anton: I’m sure there was, but I can’t remember. Sorry.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Anton: As I said before I LOVE film. Last year I watched over two hundred films. I know that may seem
like a lot, but I need the images they supply, they feed the mind.

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?

Anton: I am Editor-in-Chief of Cypress: Literary Journal where we publish poetry and flash fiction/non-fiction. We are always open for submission and publish writers worldwide. We have also published
our first print anthology not to long ago called “The Red House: An Anthology of Genre and Speculative Poetry” which is still available.
https://cypresspress.ca/

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Anton: “I keep the dead alive by walking on winter nights. My visible breath passes into their invisible lungs.” This is from a poem I’m working on called “Lamplight.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Anton: I took a poetry class at the University of Toronto and my instructor was Catherine Graham. She taught me how to bring the fantastical into the modern era without losing any whimsy in the
process. This is, of course, something I greatly admire in her own writing as well. Her collection “Winterkill” had a profound impact on me.

https://heavyfeatherreview.org/2021/05/19/pooles/

https://thewombwellrainbow.com/2020/07/15/four-poems-visual-art-anton-pooles/

https://icefloepress.net/2020/07/15/four-poems-visual-art-anton-pooles/

https://www.ekphrastic.net/ekphrastic-journal/garden-of-death-by-anton-pooles

About Will Schmit and a new poem “Six Strings Untie the Knot”

My name is Will Schmit. I began writing
poetry in the late 1960’s on a dare from a
high school English teacher who took
umbrage at my sarcastic response to his
suggestion Rod McKuen was the next Carl
Sandburg. I didn’t know who the first Carl
Sandberg was either but I was sure the
poetry foisted upon us wasn’t worth the
teacher’s emphasis.

I wrote a poem for the school newspaper but
didn’t use my real name to not tip off the
faculty. It got in the paper, it was some sort
of concrete poem using the shape of steps
coming to an abyss to represent our
education.

My first outside school norm influence was
Ginsburg’s Howl given to my by a member of
our state champion wrestling team. I went to
college in Milwaukee Wisconsin for several

half semesters, took two creative writing
classes, well one and a half as I was bodily
carried out of class by a body builder named
Texas Jack Gonyo who told me poetry can’t
exist in a classroom with no windows. He
brought me to the side of a river and began to
teach me Tai Chi and turned me onto Arthur
Whaley’s Translations from the Chinese.

In 1972 I published my first book of poems
Woof dem Babies Down on a literally
underground press called Babylon. Anti-war
protest stuff mixed in with travel tales of
crossing most of Canada on a bicycle and of
course the unrequited love poems.

Feminist poetry was the rage and I heard
Denise Levertov live and began peddling
small press radical feminist poetry books out
of the co-op where I worked. Some of the
lesbian poets didn’t know I was a male as my

nom de plume was not so gender specific and
when they came to town to read it made for
some awkward book sales. I left the Midwest
at the height of my local fame having pulled
in a 100 or more people to a hybrid
jazz/poetry show as the local poetry club
wouldn’t give me a gig.

I didn’t quit writing altogether but it was the
90’s before I got back on stage for an open
mic in Northern California. I was also
studying music and African Dance and
formed a spoken word band with a group of
multi-instrumentalists called Wiley Jadavega
and the Poetry Section because the local
Barnes & Noble didn’t have one.

We played coffee clubs and campus lounges
for a few years, put out a cassette, did a local
TV spot. Incidentally a poet who just last
year was a Pulitzer nominee was a fan of the

band. I put out two chapbooks during the
decade but the band folded and I again
didn’t quite quit writing to study saxophone.

To be blunt I didn’t have much use for
poetry. If I came across a literary journal I’d
page through it and scratch my head at the
obtuse language. Poetry slams and rap styles
left me in the dust as I couldn’t memorize or
freestyle so I took fiction courses on line,
finished a novel, came in 12 th out of 200 in a
contest and, you guessed it, set it all aside to
study saxophone.

I’ve always worked, always been a blue collar
street level sort of poet and around 1995 I got
sober, re-married, and began writing faith
and praise poems in what I imagined was a
born again griot style. I called the band out
of retirement to record a CD Bring to Glory

which is available on Spotify, iTunes, and my
website.

I published a collection of personal
psalmistry entitled Head Lines Poems &
Provocations in an effort to rescue faith
based literature from right wing propaganda.
I got a Kirkus Review, had an ad in
Poets&Writers and sold a handfull of signed
copies before the pandemic.

I got on Twitter to promote the book and CD
and found a new world on online publishing
such as Fevers of the Mind. I’m writing more
‘secular’ stuff nowadays to use a word I
would never use and have a new EP coming
out later this year to be a poetic/music
companion to a book of interviews I just
signed a contract for entitled Bumping into
God A Search for the Sound of Spirit.

I was recently excused from my first ever
poetry workshop (and issued a full refund!)
as I am apparently a horse’s ass of a different
color. The highest compliment I’ve ever
received is from folks who tell me they’re not
into poetry but they read one of mine out
loud to their spouse at the kitchen table
through tears. Not sure I’ll ever top that but
aim to have some sort of reputable press
discover me as I enter my fifth decade of
emerging as a poet.

Please take some time to check out my
poems, tunes and essays on my website
http://www.schmitbooks.com

here’s something from a recent piece…

Six Strings Untie the Knot

I repair your guitar in a
bath of broken glass, these
are the new blues, frozen
specimens, blood tipped
tiles and footprints disappear
outside a window

Thank you for your interest I am looking for
my tribe and Like The Beatles I hope to pass
the audition. Be well, be vocal, be kind.

Introducing the Marine Sonnets by Paul Brookes

The Marine Sonnets by Paul Brookes

1. The Seawatch

I watch the sea as the sea watches me.
The changing colour of my surfaces,
Waves blown by gust, what my tides, what my sea
leaves on the shoreline of my many faces.

The lagan and flotsam and derelict
and jetsam. Two buoys of my eyes bobbing
anchored in a silt of images mixed.
Always memories waxing and waning.

My inside sea watched by the sea outside.
Speaks to sea beasts moving in my blood.
I rise to where the waves move to imbibe
breath before I dive below livelihood.
The sea is me, I am the sea, watching.
I am a dying sea, a dried up thing.

2. The Rockpool

Before the tide turns I wend my own way.
Starfish tube-feet caress my mussel beds
Beadlet, snakelocks anemones snare prey,
sting it with their tentacles, and shore crabs

scrupulously pick over carcasses.
From under my fringing seaweed shannies
and prawns dart to shelter in crevices,
overhangs, safe and secure nooks and crannies.

One minute I am scorched by sharp sunlight,
next I'm cold enough to ripple shivers.
Soon it'll wash over and we unite.
Soon I'll have new creatures to discover.
In the wane I'll have my own way,
again.
Every to and fro never the same.

www.thewombwellrainbow.com

The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind:   Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead