Who or what have been the biggest influences on your life choices? Who have been your mentors (living, dead, fictional, etc)?
I had a European History teacher in high school who taught me how to read Eliot’s The Wasteland. He was one. My wife, Rachel, has had a profound and poignant impact on my life and writing. Bob Dylan gave me the juice, but he probably gave that juice to a lot of people. Led Zeppelin, too. The Bible. Tony Hoagland and Gerald Stern and my good and dear friend, Michael Morse, a deeply talented poet himself. Matthew Dickman, another poet friend and Jen Woods, the visionary publisher of my next book. There are a lot more, I’m sure, but I’ll end with my kids — Natalie and Eliana — who break open the door every night when we are in the deepest sleep.
What words of advice do you have for someone, young or old, who dreams of writing poetry?
Just write, every week, four times a week. At least.
What else would you like the readers to know?
That poetry should be fun — to read, to write. It should get people fired up, make them laugh, make them pee in their pants, cry, cackle, weep, love, dance, oh yeah, especially that, to dance.
What are favorite poems of other poets that inspire you and make you want to dance?
Here are a few: Adrian Blevins’ "Still Life With Peeved Madona", Matthew Dickman’s "All-American Poem", Frank O’Hara’s "Memorial Day 1950", Etheridge Knight’s "Feelin’ Fucked Up", Juan Felipe Herrera’s "187 Reasons Why Mexicano’s Can’t Cross The Border", and to wind it up, Anne Sexton’s "451 Mercy Street".
Thank you, Matthew!
And here's a sneak-preview poem from his new book, Monkey Bars, due out in October from Typecast Publishing -
The madness of having children is that they don’t go away.
I want them to — to the park for twelve years
or to college when they are ten —
even the ones who haven’t arrived.
Don’t slide out just yet, give me six more days of silence
to watch 24 episodes in one continuous loop
so I can pretend I’m some white trash, rogue hero
who can save the world.
My wife tells me that I have already saved the world.
Look at your daughter.
Then her airplane, the one she drew orange yellow purple,
takes off and flies around the living room.
Want to get on, Papa?
Damn straight I do,
fly to South America and walk the jungle.