2 poems inspired by Bukowski by John Guzlowski

brown and black typewriter

Me and Charles Bukowski

One time I was in Paderborn, Germany
looking at Charles Bukowski books
in a book store window,

and this old writer
who looked like Bukowski
came up to me and said,
What do you think of him?

And maybe he was just drunk
and maybe I was just drunker
and I said, “Bukowski?
He’s okay.
He’s like Kerouac
without the drama
and the mommy problem.”

The old guy laughed
and said, “you don’t know shit
about shit.”

The poet Charles Bukowski reads from his works

Silence in the front
row and gears cranking
in the back

but Buk
doesn’t blush.

Poetry
he tells us
is the fear
we feel when all
the darkness
of the forest
is sitting before us
on the empty page.

He says
this is where every poem
begins and ends

If words
were a cloud
we would
all beg for sun.

Some teachers
and their students
leave the room.

The hour is getting late
but Bukowski keeps
reading.

Students are weeping.

He tells them poetry
will not save them

He tells them the world
is a vast ocean
of sorrow

and not even
the greatest effort
by the greatest poet
will keep them
afloat.

He tells them,
we are sent here
by God to drown—

and the muse
of poetry
is the concrete
He cements
to our legs.

He says,
I have listened
and heard the wind moving
through my skull
like an anaconda
grown slow and fat
on discarded rinds
and terror.

He tells us more and more
and we listen in silence
and fear and approbation.

Afterwards
a student sweeps up
and picks up a dress
his teacher once wore.

John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, North American Review, Rattle, Ontario Review, Salon.Com, and many other journals. His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees appear in his award-winning memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues. He is also a columnist for the Dziennik Zwiazkowy (the oldest Polish language daily in America) and the author of Suitcase Charlie and Little Altar Boy, noir mystery novels set in Chicago

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Steve Wheeler

with Steve Wheeler:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Steve: I started writing poetry with a purpose the day after I walked into the literary section of my college and began reading the works of Dylan Thomas and other British poets. I quickly got into reading American poets like Charles Bukowski and e. e. cummings and this helped me to develop my freeform style of poetry.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Steve: I enjoy reading the work of modern British writers such as Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy, and urban poets such as John Cooper Clarke and Benjamin Zephaniah, but I’m also in love with the work of Irish poets such as Seamus Heaney and W. B. Yeats.

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

Steve: I was a musician (guitar and later keyboards) from the age of about 14. Lyrics to songs came to me along with the melodies and I began writing music alongside the poetry. Later as I began to perform my songs in public, I also started performing my poetry. It was synergetic – they seemed to feed off each other.

I have travelled a lot during my academic career, speaking and teaching in over 40 countries across the globe. Wherever I am, I find inspiration, from the buildings, scenery, people, cultures, food, music, and especially from simply observing people and their behaviour.

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

Steve: My most recent collection ASCENT seems to capture most of my recent creative work and places it in the context of love and relationships. It’s a collection I’m quite proud of because the themes develop and come to a crescendo in the book.

https://amzn.to/2TVmXKP

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

Steve: There was no specific moment, but there have been critical moments that have spurred me on. I was once compering on the fringe stage at a very large arts festival in the UK, and reading my poetry in between the acts as they set up. My audience was probably between 500-1000 at any given time so even the fringe stage wasn’t small. Someone from the mainstage happened to be passing by, saw me performing and invited me up onto the mainstage. There I was, filling in before Earth Wind and Fire’s Phillip Bailey was about to come on, and the poets Stewart Henderson and Steve Turner were on the side of the stage watching. I performed some of my poetry in front of 24,000 people – probably my largest audience ever.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Steve: I read, mainly fiction but also historical and science based books, and I watch films. Lots of films. I’m a fan of Science Fiction and also love comedy movies.

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

Steve: Provide any photos, links. I’m editor-in-chief of a recent anthology published by the Facebook group Absolutely Poetry. Over 50 poets from five continents have written poems to raise money for the worldwide charity Save The Children. The book is doing well and the poetry it contains is from both established and emerging poets.

https://amzn.to/3qWDxGl

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from a poem/song of yours or others?

Steve:

Perhaps my favourite all-time poetry is actually a lyric from a hymn. The hymn is called ‘When I Survey’, and was written by Isaac Watts and Lowell Mason. It reflects my deepening faith and goes like this:
See from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Steve: I have had many influences over the years, but my audience (especially those who read my blog wheelsong.blogspot.com and the poetry I share on social media in Facebook poetry groups. I welcome all sorts of feedback on my writing, as long as it’s not destructive.

Links:

twitter @timbuckteeth

https://www.poemhunter.com/steve-wheeler/

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Lee Hall

with Lee Hall:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Lee:

My writing journey began when I was around twelve years old. It was a rainy Sunday afternoon when I first started typing stories about robots in the future on a Windows 98 computer. The majority of my teen years were spent sporadically exploring the concept of writing stories while I did some all-important reading.

Influenced heavily by science fiction with a tech theme Michael Crichton was an author who grabbed my attention a little later on but the first real immersive adult book I read was ‘The Lost World’ by Arthur Conan Doyle. The majority of my story telling influences came from television and cinema with shows like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and films like ‘The Faculty’ and ‘Final Destination’.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Lee: These days I tend to be influenced more by a collective than just one individual. Because I am so busy writing, blogging, reading and trying to support fellow authors I hardly have the time to really concentrate on what anyone else is doing for that influence so I’d say the wider writing community across social media is my biggest influence.

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

Lee: I grew up on the outskirts of West London in a small place called Sipson which is just outside Heathrow Airport. The nearby High School I went to shaped much of my writing influence for my debut book ‘Open Evening’ a fast paced survival horror. My experience and the wider school scene was not great, in fact it was a tough environment that could be compared to a survival horror with and it took some years to process – it was that bad and the writing served as some great therapy. If you really want to know how bad it was then of course ‘Open Evening’ would be a great place to start.

With the backdrop of planes taking off near enough all day by Heathrow I initially thought I’d be destined to be on one of them and I was but as a cleaner working my first job. That is where I found a book called ‘Timeline’ by Michael Crichton which inspired me further to write and was a pinnacle writing influence destiny moment – many of my destiny moments were from reading experiences.

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

Lee: My recent release ‘Consistent Creative Content’ is probably the most meaningful thing I have done in writing so far. It’s a part-memoir part-guide for authors and bloggers that focuses on most of the lessons I have learned on my journey. Instead of being the usual self help book full of empty and quick fixes that just tells others what to do it highlights what I have done, what I have achieved and how I did it. There seems to be this philosophy in authoring where nobody shares their results or lessons but I believe in being open and clear with what I have done to find success while being happy with the results.

The early reviews suggests it’s hopefully going to be success and more importantly help others.

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

Lee: Most of my pivotal moments came as a reader or viewer. I’m a fan of immersive and powerful stories that celebrate inclusion and ordinary people fighting for extra ordinary things. That immersion into stories is something I experienced while reading and is something I constantly chase in my own writing

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Lee: I enjoy exercising regularly which is a great way to unwind while also looking after myself. These days I’m into yoga, running and of course a long walk. Like a majority of people I have streamed quite a lot of television over the past year and I really enjoy a good true crime documentary. Of course when I’m not writing, blogging, reading or working I do enjoy sleeping

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

Lee: Having already mentioned my self-help book I’d like to also mention what is becoming a writer’s favourite book ‘The Ghost Beside Me’. 

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

Lee:

A quote from ‘Consistent Creative Content’
“The hardest thing about being an indie author is letting the world know your book exists…”
“The best thing is convincing the world one person at a time this is your dream!”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

I would say my awesome social media following has helped me the most with writing. Without their loyalty and ever growing base of support I would not be where I am today. Thank you loyal engaged following and thank you for the opportunity to be interviewed!

Links:

Website: Lee’s Hall of information – A blog and journey in publishing (leehallwriter.com)
Twitter: @lhallwriter
Amazon (universal link): author.to/leehall


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with J Matthew Waters

with J Matthew Waters

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

J Matthew: I remember writing stories as early as the 6th grade. Early influences included Ernest Hemingway, J D Salinger, and Emily Dickinson

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

J Matthew: Seamus Heaney, Gary Snyder, Charles Bukowski would be a few names that come to mind. I also follow many WordPress poets and I would be remiss if I didn’t say many of them have an influence on me.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing?

J Matthew: I grew up in Davenport, Iowa where the Mississippi runs from east to west. Living in the midwest definitely influenced my poetry by having a more simplistic approach and a down to earth feel.

Q4: Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

J Matthew: In May of 2000 I spent 11 days in Greece where I joined a 6-day classical tour throughout the country, sandwiched between staying in Athens and a day trip to the Aegean island. To this day I will occasionally reference my time there into a poem or parts of poems.

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

J Matthew: In the first grade we had a “what do you want to be when you grow up” event that was attended by the students’ parents and lo & behold I chose “artist

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

J Matthew: I’m an avid cyclist by logging over 3000 miles per year. I also enjoy speed skating, gardening, hiking, and visiting craft breweries

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

J Matthew: My next poetry chapbook is being published by Raw Earth Ink and editor Tara Caribou. We don’t have a launch date yet but I’m personally hoping sometime in August.

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

J Matthew:

from my poem entitled Paper Tigers:

their emerald eyes shined\
from the darkest corners\
of the night reminding me\
of a love I once had

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

J Matthew: I’ll turn 60 years of age this year and I would say there have been many mentors in my writing life over the years. When I was a senior at the University of Iowa the poet Bill Knott showed an interest in me and motivated me to delve deeper into the subjects I was interested in writing.

Links:

2 poems from Fevers of the Mind Anthologies by J Matthew Waters

https://jdubqca.com/

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Ona Woods

with Ona Woods:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Ona: I’ve always been interested in writing, but I started writing poetry seriously around the time I was 18, at the end of high school and beginning of college. The first book of poetry that really grabbed me and pulled me deeper into writing was The Splinter Factory by Jeffrey McDaniel, and from there I spent a while being completely obsessed with more performance-focused poets, particularly those who were being published by Write Bloody, like Derrick Brown and Anis Mojgani. I’m not so focused on performance poetry now, especially as I’m struggling with voice dysphoria since starting my transition, but I think those influences still keep me focused on the idea of poetry as something that can be loud, quiet, fast, slow, and contain all the elements of music.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Ona: My fiancée, Inès Pujos! I fell in love with them while we were both working towards our MFAs and for eight years we’ve grown together side by side both as writers and as people. Their poems are ferocious and gut wrenching and gorgeous, and their first book, Something Dark to Shine In, is coming out from Sundress Publications later this year!

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

Ona: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I would say my writing is more influenced by the time I spent in Chicago while in undergrad. Those years were the years where I first found a community of writers, where I learned how to use my writing not just to express myself but to actually become myself, and where I learned that poetry is first and foremost an art of empathy (also that kind of winter just changes you after living in California).

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

Ona: The most meaningful work to me is actually not a poem, but an essay that I wrote at the very beginning of my transition, before I’d come out to anyone, and the act of writing it really helped me come to terms with my gender identity after decades of repressing it. It’s the first thing I ever published under my new name. It’s called “An Honest-to-God Step Towards Something” and it came out in Entropy in May of 2020: https://entropymag.org/an-honest-to-god-step-towards-something/.

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

Ona: Unfortunately, my memory of that time isn’t so great, so I can’t say. I can only really remember those years as phases and feelings, not specific moments.

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Ona: I’m a big ol’ nerd. Video games have been a great (maybe too great) escape during COVID times, and in particular Final Fantasy XIV should be prescribed as a palliative treatment for gender dysphoria. I really want to learn to cook/bake but I’m too tightly wound and whenever I do anything in the kitchen it just turns into a whole lot of panicky yelling.

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

Ona:

I have a poem coming out in the July issue of perhappened that I’m very excited about! (https://www.perhappened.com/) It’s called “Nothing Is the Night” and it’s a long-ish piece from several years ago. Writing the piece was an experience that showed me that something buried inside me was screaming to be let out, though it took another five years to figure out what that something was.

Also, I’m working to get an online literary magazine off the ground. We’re called Ciphertext, we’re taking submissions in all genres now, and you can find out more at http://ciphertext.pub/submissions!

Q8: What is one of your favorite lines from one of your poems/writings or from others?

Ona: The chorus of the song “December” by We Are the Union has been stuck in blood ever since their new album, Ordinary Life, came out last month: “You’ll be dead in December. / There can’t be two of us forever.” My whole life I’d given myself over to a constructed persona bent on keeping the real me hidden and safe, and coming out meant taking control back from, and ultimately destroying, that artificial self. So hearing those lines sung by a woman who had herself just come out as trans has really resonated with me.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Again, I have to say my fiancée. They’re the only one who’s never been afraid to tell me what needs to be cut, whether it’s a single line or an entire poem.


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