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/

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”