A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Norb Aikin

with Norb Aikin:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Norb: I’ve probably always been a writer to some degree and began to take it more seriously in high school. Shortly after graduating I was writing constantly, and early influences were more music-based than writing-based…I was listening to a lot of The Beatles, and bands like Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and golden-era Hip Hop before I got into Jack Kerouac.

Thanks, Eddie Vedder - Semi-Rad.com

Q2: Who are some of your biggest influences today?

Norb: Today, I’m more into writers and lyricists like the late Tony Hoagland and Gord Downie. Downie in particular influenced a lot of my last book, Mutants.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing/art? Have any travels away from home influenced work/describe?

Norb: I grew up in the Western New York suburbs but I don’t think that favored heavily into my work until I began to get more serious and creative. I would walk the town a lot and note my surroundings, and turn that into little details in different poems. When I moved to Central New York it felt like a clean slate and a new nest of ideas based on a less-than-ideal living situation. A lot of that factored in my first book, 100, and as I’ve started looking differently at how I’m taking care of my Mental Health I’ve seen that creeping into the things I’m working on now.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Norb: I think we as creatives always tend to think our latest work is our most meaningful, or stands out and is better than anything else, and for me this is mostly true. I’m currently shopping around my latest finished product, and I’d love to find a nice, small, indie press but I haven’t found the right fit yet. I’m also proud of the articles relating to Mental Health I’ve written for sites like Stigma Fighters, The Mighty, and The Good Men Project. Advocating for MH awareness to me is just as important as any 5-star rating either of my books has received.

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

Norb: Just now, when I got this interview request!! Kidding…but it’s hard to remember so far back; I’ve been at this now for nearly 30 years. I’m almost 46, and I think getting validation from close friends and family when I was around 18 or 19 put the seed in my head that I had something worth working for and toward. It’s been very rewarding to show them however many years later that yes, I did this and have been published and have all these wonderful experiences and new friends attached to it.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Norb: Hmmm…I just like to chill, listen to music, and cheer on my favorite teams with friends on Twitter during games. I’m a nerdy writer who loves sports; make what you will of that!

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

Norb: With everything opening back up in NY after the pandemic, there are a few things I’d like to set up back in WNY and maybe locally. Open mics will be an option, as well as libraries. Unfortunately, there are few indie bookstores local to me, but I’ll reach out to a few in WNY and see if I can set something up. I’d also like to travel again and meet up with some old friends I’ve worked with in the past.

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

Norb: Wow, it’s been awhile since I looked through my latest work. I think I’m going to go with “You couldn’t stay because/ you couldn’t be replaced.” from “Thinking About Suicide Takes Years Off Your Life”. It’s a very personal piece about the loss of my brother, my own struggles, and the relationships I’ve been lucky to have with some of his closest friends.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Norb: I’ll have been a member of http://Writing.com for 20 years as of July 1st, and without the support of many friends there I’ve been able to make over the years, I wouldn’t be the same author I am today. A handful of them pushed me to start back up writing poetry after a long hiatus, and what became of that ended up being my first book, 100. Being able to share that with them has been beyond gratifying, and having another WDC member write the foreward to the next book was really special. I don’t often share much I’m working on currently on Twitter or Instagram, but WDC is often where pieces may show up first…sort of like how a musician might road test new songs in concert before recording them. I’ll always be thankful for being a part of such an amazing community.

Links:

Mutants: https://amazon.com/Mutants-Poems-Essays-Norb-Aikin/dp/1949351904

Twitter: @AikinNorb

Instagram: https://instagram.com/fivesixer/

3 Poems from Anthologies by Norb Aikin

2 Poems from the Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 by Norb Aikin

BOOKS to Read in 2021: Mutants by Norb Aikin

https://www.norbaikin.com/

https://www.poemhunter.com/norb-aikin/

https://thepoetryquestion.com/2019/09/24/tpq5-norb-aikin/

3 Poems from Anthologies by Norb Aikin

No and No

This is the noise that keeps me awake,
the tie-dyed sentiments flung
from dirt that can’t be un-dug,
and this is me saying no
to a wish that “no” isn’t an answer to.
The curl, pulled straight.
The antidote, failed.

Nothing good can come of this
and that’s why I’m here.

This is the lookalike and this is the duplicate
and I am the difference
that goes unnoticed
until it’s too late.
There’s something, and nothing,
and something from nothing,
but I walk on the outline of the void-
I won’t fall in from the push;
my recoil does all the work for me.

Let’s not and say we did
before we have to pretend,
or at least until we get caught.

This is the noise that keeps me awake
and this is the escape I can’t seem to make
when I least expect it
but that’s what I’m doing now
and no one’s gonna tell me otherwise
even if they wanted to.
Like a joke not worth explaining
to people who don’t understand laughter,
I can’t help myself from myself.

Everything is Terrible and I Think You Know Why 

a drum that whispers
riddling death sentences
backwards pointing fingers
fragmented pretenses
march prudishly fluid
pretending like it's nothin'
still raises your voice to it
master of survival           cunning
noise calls to rise and fall
crusted mistrusted bloated trap set
eyes of blistered 8-balls
change your habits

big bucket of double oh-no
emptied over your broken skin
burnt premise           shame so
indignant                 do it again
shut down but can't be stopped
government secrecy forgot
time hops drug shops crooked cops
the land's name the photographer cropped
what happened you don't claim to know
slim chance fat circumstance
eyes like bullet holes
act your age not your relevance

take count of what's left
mental calendar            rubber-stamped
courting slow death
at a right-to-life camp
train the robots to clean up
mice can freshen the environment
you signed your god's pre-nup
it's coming to collect past rent
unfolding stomach sweating churns
life showing reruns beyond overtures
eyes made of cigarette burns
watching the world              spurned

To the Love(s) I Lost
(via Leonard Cohen)

Everyone knows it as my fault,
not yours and mine;
your voice carries louder
over my interpretations and lesser designs.
I can't name your names because
there's too many,
and when I drink to forget
you remind me of memories I
know better than to hold on to.
I can't, but I can,
even when they're more the enemy
that I wish to comprehend.
You vested my suit and lies;
tied up my goodbyes.
We could say nothing and let's
just; rather than we tried.

Norb Aikin has been published by Eliezer Tristan Publishing and uses his time wisely on Twitter (@aikinNorb). His first poetry collection, 100, has been positively reviewed widely and his second, Mutants, recently was released for Kindles with a paperback  It’s a slim follow-up to 100 and features some older material along with his current WIP. Look for the full release of Also Mutants in the Spring of 2020.

BOOKS to Read in 2021: Mutants by Norb Aikin

2 Poems from the Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 by Norb Aikin

Norb Aikin
from NorbAikin.com/blog

One After Another

The entry was never intended
on being an exit.
You wanted this
         so much;
don't cry when it's over
if you couldn't be bothered
         when it began.
Maintain yourself as a
         one-line drawing
we can see through
to not be you. See, I'm
very concerned
with the very concerned,
and I watch you on a wire
         extended
by the discontent you couldn't
wait to get sick of or from.
You can wish to your god
it'll all be over,
but you're missing the point
         that it's just begun.

Pyroglyphics

When you see the writing on the wall,
what goes through your mind?
There are words that can set you
free if you know their meaning,
or constrict you upon your feelings.
Do you ever settle down,
and take note of your surroundings
         in general?
It's an unformed habit,
uniform in its uncertainty.

To find something first you must find out
if you deserve to know what most words
         are talking about.
It's ok to say no or maybe no,
but they're telling you "I told you so!"
Do you have an answer?
Do you have an agenda that was
         planned for?
Do you?

In the war of you versus you,
who are you fighting for?
You've seen the writing on the wall,
but how many times can you burn it down?

BOOKS to Read in 2021: Mutants by Norb Aikin

Poem by Norb Aikin “No and No”

Norb Aikin is the author of Mutants and 100 (Eliezer Tristan Publishing). He is a Mental Health activist
originally from Buffalo, NY and now lives in Cortland, NY. His work has appeared in various online publications,
including Pink Plastic House and Fevers of the Mind. You can find him on Twitter at @AikinNorb

BOOKS to Read in 2021: Mutants by Norb Aikin

Norb Aikin’s poetry has a rhythmic flow to it. You feel Norb is leading you to a crescendo. In Mutants the poetry is all leading up to that ultimate crescendo.  You are absorbed in questions: of existence, of falling apart, of caring, of wandering if one little change could have changed it all.  But this is just the opening verses.  Your emotions are pulled into the song.  This is how the mind flips when the anxieties of the world becomes flippant.  How you become headstrong to arbitrary as the world is described from the intro in “Matador Rose”  How cumbersome every day’s monotonous tasks and rituals become. Reflections, the unsures, the never was’s, the what cans, or can’t even fathoms. Norb’s work truly will make you think.  Mutants is a great collection of poetry that lets you escape your mind or furthers you deeper into the paths of endless clouds to count and dream them up a name.  Poems like “I Melt Sugar” & “I Said Maybe But I Never Said Forever” “Thinking About Suicide Takes Years Off Your Life” hits your brain like a rocket into the dunes of ponderings amassed in loneliness, fear, the wonder years that never really go away, and then we reach the crescendo that is Norb Aikin’s Mutants.

Norb Aikin is the author of Mutants and 100 (Eliezer Tristan Publishing). He is a Mental Health activist originally from Buffalo, NY and now lives in Cortland, NY. His work has appeared in various online publications, including Pink Plastic House and Fevers of the Mind. You can find him on Twitter at @Fivesixer.

This review is also in the Fevers of the Mind Poetry Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology available now on Amazon. Check recent posts for links.

Poem by Norb Aikin “No and No”