the FOTM Poetry General Interview with Simon Zec

1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood? Or If you have a blog or project please describe the concept of your project, blog, website


Simon: In The Downtime is my second poetry collection, released two years after Death of the Suburb, in September 2020. It is a selection of poems written during that period. Whereas my first collection was an amalgam of all previous writings, reflecting Brexit, austerity , political turmoil, becoming a parent, living and loving but also the death of my mother, this collection travels a less angry path. The decline of my slowly dementing and widowed father and the conflict and emotions that brings as I reflect at my own role as a father. The imminent upheaval of Brexit and then the start of a pandemic. It looks at the thoughts and musings of a middle aged, middle class, middle of the road poet.


2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?


Simon: I write for therapy. To help me process the world around me. To see the world and try and put into a short, resonating collection of words. I spit my poems after they have bubbled around my head for a few days. Maybe I have seen a thing of beauty, or a nice phrase has popped into my head. I see it, I write it, it is released into the wild.


3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?


Simon: I have always tried to be a writer, from failed novels, failed film scripts to less failed poetry. Now I am older I feel I have enough self realisation to recognise the merits or foolishness of my words. But ask me in five years, I’ll see how pretentious I am being now.

4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?


Simon: Henry Normal is a brilliant poet, his work can have you laughing out loud to in tears within two poems. Brian Bilston is a black belt in poetry, his clever use of form and structure combined with humour is so impressive. He has become a more political creature in lockdown and still maintaining his wit. Within my local poetry circle in Sussex i know and perform regularly with a real diverse bunch of great poets, from Liam the Goth Poet, Meg, Kate, Maz and Liz and Chris. We meet monthly (on zoom nowadays) and to be in their presence inspires to write something new and keeps me on my toes


5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?


Simon: Before lockdown myself and 4 friends would meet each week to create music. They are a talented bunch of musicians and we keep trying to create new music. Hanging with them frees up my chance to write lyrics and stick to a structure, form, rhyme and rhythm which i do not possess in my poetry


6) What is your favorite or preferred style of writing?

Simon: I have no real defined or clear poetry style, it has been pointed out that there is always some form of repetition within my poems, but apart from that I very rarely rhyme. I do not work to structure or form.

7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?


Simon: The world around me is my inspiration. Be it my family, the political situation, the environmentI find if i am away from home, on holiday or just sitting quietly i can be my most creative. My friends own a remote cottage in somerset with no electricity. If i could live there i would happily sit and write for the rest of my life

8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?


Simon: I find writing highly therapeutic. If i am upset or need to process any issues, writing it out and putting it in a poem often will ease the situation tenfold. I hate the editing process. Having to check for spelling mistakes and punctuating something is very tedious!

9) How has the current times affected your work?  


Simon: Hugely during the first lockdown i was creating daily. As time wore on i preferred to write less but of a higher quality. In the dark times is where we find the inspiration and in the downtime between the bad bits are where we find solace. As the world struggles they turn to poets and creatives to help them understand what is happening. It is our responsibility to show the light and offer hope and beauty.

10) Please give us any links, social media info, upcoming events, etc for your work.


Simon: You can find me on Facebook as Simon Zec: Steyning’s Poet Laureate or just find me as Simon Zec i’m more active as myself! Twitter at: @SimonZec23 Insta: @SimonZecPoet
I don’t have a website but you can buy my books from http://www.therealpress.co.uk or amazon

Poetry: Dream Upon Waking by Mike Hickman

What if you knew that the dream is only a dream upon waking?
The night’s stories post-hoc assembled
from the first fragments of consciousness,
from the returning of the light and the regaining of the senses?
Everywhere you’ve been and all the time you’ve been away
invented in the slightest seconds of reboot;
non-memory rewritten, non-existence papered-over with
an illusion that you’ve been somewhere
and the story has continued,
when – in truth – there’s been no you and no story
and no dreams at all in those absent hours.
What if you knew that for sure?
Should that scare or comfort when contemplating the deeper sleep?
That we need to be conscious to be conscious of ourselves and what we’ve been?
That non-conscious means no self to dream, no past to haunt and no future to fear?
What might you do then with the moments to come?

Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers! 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The Shadow That Rests Inside My Skeleton w/poem Anxiety Dances (c) David L O’Nan(also on Headline Poetry & Press)

So, yeah I’ve got Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is something that is an everyday battle between all possible anxiety one can have at any given point.

With this post I would like to begin to share some of my poetry writings. I have written about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD for short).

Every day is a new adventure. Will today be depression, calmness, fun, claustrophobic ending in several panic attacks, OCD, Overwhelming leading to embarrassing anger spurts, crying from the smallest memories entering my head? The feeling of loss at all times, disappointments, always trying to make good on something you might have done when younger, and always looking for apologies or apologizing yourself. Looking for acceptance, then being a loner, wanting someone around to comfort you, then feeling like an alien.
I am in constant fear. Fear those I love are going to get hurt at any given moment. The scenarios constantly play in your head.
So, i’m guessing no one would be surprised that I’ve had numerous “small to rather serious nervous breakdowns” throughout the years.

I’ve had these moments since I was a child, I would try to mask away all of the fears and emotions with overindulging, overcompensated, overanalyzing, just overdoing it!
There has been breaking moments as a child (when I realized that everyone eventually dies), at 18 when I lost my last 2 grandparents, and then subsequently leaving College after only a couple of months.
There have been moments at 24/25, 29 after a dramatic episode that left me with PTSD in which I was taken advantage of, harassed, and forced by threats of violence by an unbalanced woman.
Again, in my early 30’s adjusting to not living alone after 12 years of doing so when I got married.
Then the fears of becoming a father, and learning to be a good husband.
At 36 I lost my father to ALS, My body was numb for months for long periods of time. I fell into some old habits, and had to re-evaluate how to be a human again.
Then just recently in the last few weeks at 39. The seasonal depression, the overbearing Social Anxiety that has gotten worse as of late, the memories of my father, financial worries, possible pending medical dilemmas have broken my mind once again. The holiday season is a hard one to digest, my father’s birthday is in December, I lost him on Christmas night 3 years ago.

So in the moments I can escape to watch my children smile, look at my beautiful wife, watch a wrestling match or basketball game, listen to some Comedy Podcasts, and of course writing. These are what I life for when everything else feels like an everyday prison hovering over your bones.

ANXIETY DANCES

Riding blind like a trapped voice
Stuck to the corners –
of the echoed walls
The Blue waves of light-
travels through my visual acuity
Swallowing all the memories,
what was easy?
I cannot forget however –
the ripping of my flesh,

Like night over day
To reveal anxiety dances –
on the nerve pores
I can remember
everything that you wish –
I’d lose

silhouette of man standing inside structure

photo by Rene Bohmer