An Old Interview, with Me

Its kind of funny, now that i have set myself up to have to try to ask interesting questions of strangers, or sometimes not strangers each month for the edification and entertainment of my readers, to stumble across this from three years ago:

Indie Author Spotlight: Anthony Watkins

Field Recordings welcomes Southern poet Anthony Watkins to the internet wilds. Watkins has published poems in Poetry Super Highway, Stellar Showcase of Canada, and has written papers for the Treasure Coast of Florida. Most recently he was the Poetry! Goodreads Group Poet of the month.

Name: Anthony Watkins

Pen Name: Anthony Watkins

Most recent title published: My most recent collection of poems was Warm Enough for Ice Cream (2011) Lemonade Press

Where do you write? In my Wingback chair, on my third or 4th one by now. For the longest I almost exclusively wrote while driving. Yeah, I know, but that is what I did, and I drove a lot, so I had lots of time to write. I couldn’t begin to write on a computer. I would have to retype everything, and my hand writing is so terrible if I didn’t rewrite it in a day or two it was lost, because I couldn’t read it. Somewhere, I think it was while I was writing my first novel, currently and probably forever unpublished, I realized I had to work at the computer, also, somewhere along the way, I started using a laptop so I moved to my chair with a padded writing lapdesk.

What are your rituals with regards to writing (ex: Must have tea, a cat on the lap, etc) I have no ritual, usually I think of something or see something and write it immediately, but sometimes I will get an idea and I let it ferment, of course sometimes I get an idea and lose it waiting, though something else usually comes along

What do you when you begin to revise? What’s the first thing you do during that process? As often as not, I don’t revise, well, I revise as I write, but sometimes I will come back and see something I don’t like, but usually, I say what I want to say as I go, at least in poetry, now fiction is another story. I publish everything almost instantly on Shelfari: , on Facebook, on Goodreads (Goodreads link 2) : and: , my blog: and email to certain folks, if I get negative feedback about a word of a line or a whole stanza, I will look at it again, and usually rework it then.

When arranging lines for your poems, what do you consider at the micro level– about the line? (For example…I never end a line on the word “and” etc.) Subconsciously, I have developed a lot of rules. They are probably easier to see as a reader than they are to me. I don’t like to break lines in non traditional places. I like for stanzas to end with a period, though they don’t always. Mostly I write it down and if I can sing it, I like it. When I was a college student I tried to listen to what my teachers taught me about meter, yes I was still rhyming back then, too. But whenever I worked at it, I got it backwards, if I sang it, everybody was happy. Not that I EVER sing in front of other people. I cant sing, I am a poet, not a lyricists, though I did go to Nashville back about 1981-1982 and called on a bunch of song publishing houses until I realized I wasn’t a songwriter.

As a poet, whose music, or voice, sometimes do you hear as you write or revise?
Mine

How would you classify your poetry? Are you a lyric poet? A Romantic? A Surrealist? I write little pictures, I consider myself a snapshot poet. Somebody else will have to put a better label on me.

What poets are you currently reading? I love Brenda Black White and James Lancaster, Billy Collins, a bit of Anne Sexton, and enjoying a lot of fellow poets at Poetry! on Goodreads. I tried to fit in over at Erastophere, but they aren’t my kind of people, or at least I’m not theirs

What poets/poems do you strongly recommend a reader to discover?
Themselves, by that I mean read everybody, don’t feel like you have to follow anybody, but get sincere, cut the crap. A poet must first do the very best to say whatever it is they are trying to say, not with flourishes or meter or rhyme nor anything that prevents them from telling the truth of the world they see. In my opinion, the best use of reading others’ poems is to learn their tricks and not repeat them.

The contemporary American poetic tradition is elegy, do you discover elegiac qualities among your own writing as a whole? Are you a poet of loss?
I find loss to be a complete waste of time, a poem must be the living thing, the having, the possession of what is and what was in a present state.

Where does your inspiration come from (music, film, other books)? The lives of strangers, friends and myself, of small woodland creatures, of these I am inspired.

What is your literary guilty pleasure? (trashy sci-fi adventures, bad romance novels, 50 Shades, fanfic, etc.) I love a good murder mystery, a Robert B. Parker, Martha Grimes, Elmore Leonard or Dick Francis, though I also love more traditional literary fiction, my contemporary favorites in Gloria Naylor, Barbara Kingsolver, and Graham Greene, but I think it is the tradition of Faulkner, Welty and Agee that has inspired my word choices and thought processes.

Explain how your local and regional environment influences your writing, your process, and your product (in other words, how does your reality intersect with the worlds that you create?): I write what I see the street people, the politician, the school child or the shop keeper.

You have to invite three authors to dinner, who are they? Why? Tough question, as I am very fond of Woolf, Faulkner, and Naylor, but I am not certain I would have enjoyed any of their company. As far as good dinner companions, give me Graham Greene, Tim Dorsey, Willa Cather, and see if we could have Daphne du Maier slipped in while no one was watching!

Book you did not read in high school but now have read and have an appreciation for: And why: To Kill a Mockingbird As a kid growing up in Alabama, I was given to believe that this book was a corrupting influence. As a grown man, I found it to be the book, besides Go Down Moses that I most wished I had written!

Favorite words:
My wife has a list of both, but I have never understood have a favorite or least word, as they are all tools in the arsenal of the writer

Advice you would like to pass on to other writers: Ignore advice from other writers

What you would discuss with your pet if your pet could talk: why she insists on going out every 5 minutes only to stand at the door a minute later to be let in again. I don’t think she thinks deep thoughts, of course I could be wrong, I don’t speak dog. I have often wondered if an ant stands on its hill and contemplates the absolute briefness of its existence, does it wish for more, does it know it has only a handful of days? Does it have a cognitive life as a pupae? Who knows?

 

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