with Matthew Freeman:
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Matthew: Oh, I was such a late bloomer! When I was about seventeen all kind of things happened at once, a friend telling me I should write down my wild manic stories, a young woman I loved who was always talking about Jim Morrison, and then my football coach introducing me to Dylan Thomas. But in a real serious class that started me off and had the most influence on me, I guess, we read the High Romantics and they’ve stayed with me quite a long time.
Q2: What are your biggest influences today?
Matthew: It’s really interesting and fun, ever since I’ve been involved with social media I’ve been introduced to poets from all around the world. I’ve heard new young poets from Africa and India and Ireland and England and they’ve all inspired me to keep going. I guess in a technical way, though, I’ve labored under the heavy influence of Gerald Stern. To me he’s like a post-Beat writer and I like that. Because, like almost everybody, I had my Beat phase too.
Q3: Was there a pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Matthew: Well! I had that friend who loved Jim Morrison so deeply…but all I’d heard from the Doors was L.A. Woman and I didn’t like it all that much. One day I was skipping school and having a few beers and thought I’d go up and see a movie. What was playing? That Oliver Stone movie about the Doors. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I walked out of that movie a poet. I guess there had been lingering inside me for many years a love of language and that movie somehow triggered it.
Q4: Who has helped you most with writing?
Matthew: My sister has helped me more than anyone– and she’s a poet too. We talk and talk about craft and influence and the state of poetry in our country and abroad. We have big disagreements on revision– it’s true still that I don’t revise too much. But we encourage each other and that means a lot.
Q5: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Q6: What do you consider to be your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Matthew: I think one of the best things I have done is called “Columbia Crown” and was published by The Blood Pudding. It’s a series of sonnets about a time when I was really trying to finish school– I’d had lots of problems—and started developing schizophrenia. Gone is any snarky or ironic attitude and each one is just one sentence. I think those are some of my most elevated poems.
Q7: Favorite activities to relax?
Matthew: I will tell you what I do– I have coffee every morning with some friends at Starbucks and read poetry and philosophy and theory in between our pleasant conversations. And I find that this too is a part of my process. And I have written lots about how I go behind my building with an iPod and a soda and have a cigarette!
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem/writing of yours or others?
Matthew: I think I like lines of mine like, “To be this cute you must be destitute…” or, “I’m half a man without my Ativan…” I probably only remember them because they rhyme. I did steal a line of perfect iambic pentameter from Smokey Robinson and use it in a villanele: “A taste of honey’s worse than none at all…”
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Matthew: Look out for I Think I’d Rather Roar, which I’m hoping someone will pick up soon!