with Devon Marsh:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Devon: I have 4 early poems that my mother wrote down on a piece of stationery from my father’s hardware store when I was 4 years old. I remember her taking dictation as she tucked me into bed. After that, I stopped writing poems for about 25 years. I began again around age 30, and got more serious in my 40s. My biggest influences were Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Ted Kooser.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Devon: Berry, Oliver, and Kooser are poets I return to. I’ve enjoyed and learned from many others, but piecemeal rather than from focused attention to any one of them. Mary Jo Salter, W.S. Merwin, Jane Hirshfield, Richard Wilbur, Joy Harjo. I have not read widely enough nor deeply enough in poetry to make myself the best I could be. I keep writing and reading anyway.
Q3: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Devon: I can’t point to a single moment that made me want to write, just the dawning awareness in early life that my father read widely and admired good writing, therefore it must be worth pursuing.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Devon: Patrick Donnelly, Director of the Poetry Seminar at The Frost Place, has given me the most helpful instruction. Matthew M.C. Smith, Editor-in-Chief of Black Bough Poetry, has helped me the most with exposure and promotion of my work. Both are generous in their efforts with poets.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & have any travels away from there influence your work?
Devon: I grew up in Georgia, in the southeastern U.S. Early in my life, my family lived on a farm adjacent to a Civil War battlefield. Later we lived in a small city near the Appalachian Mountains. The history of the region, its landmarks, its Native American place names, and especially the stories of much older relatives all made a big impression on me. These influences are not obvious in everything I write, but I hope a respect for kind people and place and the natural world shows through in almost everything.
Q6: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Devon: The most meaningful poems I’ve written so far have been the three that were published in Deep Time: Volume 1, by Black Bough Poetry. The poems are not connected, however they fit together thematically to demonstrate the respect I have for my ancestors, the love I have for my family, and our brief time in a world we are rapidly changing. I was very happy to see these poems in print, all together, and in such fine company with others in the Deep Time collection.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Devon: Hiking to a remote spot with a view or with flowing water, then sitting a long while and enjoying my surroundings, provides the best relaxation for me. Sitting beside a fire—even a candle flame—and listening to night sounds comes in a very close second.
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
“God only knows, God makes his plan / the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.”
Paul Simon, Slip Slidin’ Away
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
I’d like to promote my full-length collection that has not yet found a home. Maybe some press will read this and adopt it like a rescue dog.
I’m on Twitter at @DevonMarsh1
My website is https://devonmarsh.com
My books include a novella, How I Know, and a memoir, Never a Hero, that I edited for my father.