with Tim Heerdink:
Tim Heerdink is the author of Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well, The Human Remains, Red Flag and Other Poems, Razed Monuments, Checking Tickets on Oumaumua, Sailing the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call, Ghost Map, A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, and short stories, The Tithing of Man and HEA-VEN2. His poems appear in various journals and anthologies. He is the President of Midwest Writers Guild of Evansville, Indiana.
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?
Tim: My love for writing started back in elementary school when I’d write stories prompted four our weekly journal entries. My teachers said I was on to something, which is ironic, because I went to fail a number of English classes in high school while writing songs for bands I fronted with the hope of getting a record out. Poetry that wasn’t song lyrics came in when I took creative writing classes in college, where I excelled once again.
Some of my first influences included Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Sylvia Plath, W.H. Auden, and Anne Sexton.
Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?
Tim: Much of my influence comes from writers I know. There are three poets along with myself that I call the Four Horsemen: Tony Brewer, Jon Koker, and Joseph Fulkerson. Mike Whicker left an everlasting impression with me when I first started publishing books back in 2018. One of the major subjects I write about is the Holocaust. He’s big on World War II history and has a wonderful series of books set in that era along with the standalone, Flowers for Hitler. Two professors who helped shape my poetic mind are Matthew Graham and Marcus Wicker.
Eva Kor, Elie Wiesel, Stephen Nasser, and all the other Holocaust survivors in the world continue to inspire me.
Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work?
Tim: I grew up in Chandler, Indiana, which is not far from the city of Evansville where I was born. We had a nice house in the country away from the trouble that may have ensued if we stayed where we were living for the first six years of my life. Our old neighborhood became run down over the years. It was nice to be able to perform music outside your house, ride bikes, and just be a kid without neighbors complaining or traffic running you down.
Nature is inspiring for sure. My love for birds shows in A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread from Between Shadows Press.
Travel is important to my life and my work. A number of poems drew inspiration from being in different places. Red Flag and Other Poems and Razed Monuments both take from my study of the Holocaust while visiting concentration camps in Germany and Poland.
Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work that you’ve done creatively so far?
My most meaningful work would have to be my efforts to keep the Holocaust in conversation with Red Flag and Other Poems and Razed Monuments. While the former stresses the importance of remembrance, the latter builds upon that ideology and asks that history not be razed but built as a memorial so others can be vigilant in current events.
Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Tim: Teachers telling me I had something going for me with my writing growing up gave me confidence. One of my childhood friends had an author for a father. I always thought it’d be amazing to have my own books someday.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Tim: One of my favorite things to do when I’m not writing is play board games. I’d love to design my own game in the future. My favorites are Scythe, Tapestry, and Wingspan, which are all from Stonemaier Games. Wingspan also helped influence me to write A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread.
Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Tim: Tony Brewer and I are back on tour this summer. My two latest books, Ghost Map and A Cacophony of Birds in the House of Dread, are limited runs that have sold out, so I’m primarily pushing Razed Monuments since it was my last widespread release from Finishing Line Press in December 2020. Also in tow are previous books, The Human Remains, which was the book we started touring on before the pandemic, and Red Flag and Other Poems.
The Midwest Writers Guild, of which I am president, started a chapbook series this year. My offering in February included Checking Tickets of Oumaumua, a collection of space-oriented poems.
Another limited run chapbook I put out in March saw a great departure from my usual style. Sailing on the Edge of Time, I Hear a Siren’s Call was published by Roaring Junior Press. One longer poem dealing with a lost at sea sailor who finds himself drawn to the song of a siren. I couldn’t be happier with how that one turned out.
In December, my next full-length collection, Somniloquy & Trauma in the Knottseau Well will be published by Cajun Mutt Press. It has many nightmares contained within its pages. There are several characters that visit me in the throws of sleep. They remind me of John Berryman and his Dream Songs.
You can find information for my books along with more dates on my website for the tour with Tony Brewer as we add them, but here is our current trek:
July 10 Bluestocking Social – Evansville, Indiana
July 16 Tower Grove Park – St. Louis, Missouri
July 17 Barb’s Books – Belle, Missouri
July 18 KOPN FM – Columbia, Missouri
October 26 The Focal Point – St. Louis, Missouri
Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?
If I could rewrite the ending
would it make a difference,
or should I look back, thinking
of my love lost in remembrance?
from “Unthankful Givings” in The Human Remains
Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?
Matthew Graham and Marcus Wicker helped steer me toward a betterment of the craft while under their wing at University of Southern Indiana.
My wife always encouraged me being one of my first constant readers. I’ve added a number of people who read all my work when it’s published. There are a select few who get it all as it leaves my head.
There’d be no me without my mom, who passed away May 2020 from brain cancer. She gave me this ability. Losing her produced some of the poems found in three of my chapbooks from 2021. I have a new manuscript, Final Flight as the Fog Becomes Night, that is currently being shopped around for a publisher. May there be even more healing in 2022.
The last, but not least, great help in my continued writing are my children. I meant to publish my first book, what was supposed to be Last Lights of a Dying Sun, before my first daughter was born. That didn’t happen, and that novel is still in progress. It doesn’t look like the novel will be done for quite some time, but I do have some short stories in the works and another daughter on the way. All when it is meant to be.