The waves have now a redder glow —
The hours are breathing faint and low —
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence.
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.
-Excerpt from “The City in the Sea”,
Edgar Allan Poe
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been making stories. And everyone that knew me growing up knew of my penchant for fiction. When I was 11 or so, my uncle gave me a massive hardcover tome, Complete Tales & Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe’s short stories were intriguing and I remember reading a few of them; I still remember several. But what truly drew me in, enchanted me at that young impressionable age, was Poe’s collected poetry. In his flawless lines I was taken to shadowed vales in realms of dreams, to lonely treacherous shores, to gilded rooms where romance bloomed, to Gothic dreary places swollen with sorrow and death.
I never recovered from that initial magic of poetry. Throughout my younger years I tried my hand at poetry, probably embarrassing works and better off disintegrated into the earth as they likely are, but my own literary aspirations remained on fiction. That all changed when I joined the U.S. Army and was deployed to the Middle East. I won’t go into the details here of the ordeals that I went through, but what I will say that the writing of poetry was my entire salvation. I self-medicated with words, prescribed myself (as I proclaim in my first published poetry collection) “Poetry for Pills!” Poems flowed from me, emotional and neurotic works of depression, hopelessness and helplessness, and sometimes questions of hope. I was eventually overcome by darkness while deployed, but poetry kept the darkness at bay longer than I could have with pills and alcohol.
Later, when I was safe back home, a civilian again, a veteran, I had amassed quite the collection of dark poetry that I brought home with me from the Army. Also, I continued to write poetry in addition to fiction. My first published works were a handful of poems in a poetry anthology published by Swyers Publishing. It was called Making Waves and is available here. These poems began my relationship with Swyers Publishing who have continued publishing my novels, short stories, and even my debut poetry collection of those dark poems that I wrote during times of turmoil in the Army. That poetry collection, Lost Yellow, is available here.
But since I was first published in 2011, most of my writing endeavors have been geared towards my literary fiction novels and short stories. There were times when poetry would pour suddenly and briefly from me, when I was camping for instance and when I have been a little depressed. Poets, which I suppose I am, can write poetry all day every day. But I think that poets can only write really good poetry when they’re at their lowest and highest. In times of both depression and joy, the greatest poetry is birthed.
Despite my literary fiction endeavors, including my recently-released short story collection Cocktails & Other Stories, poetry has been knocking steadily and increasingly at the door of my creative mind. I’ve been reading and discovering new poets at the highest rate of my life. I’ve been filled with poetic inspiration. Also, my marriage and honeymoon last month have sure gone a long way towards unlocking really good poetry from my fingertips. I guess I’m becoming more of a romantic like early Yeats. Ten all new poems have mine were published recently in another Swyers Publishing poetry anthology called Crashing Waves (found here).
I’ve been attempting to write a little bit of short fiction on my typewriter, but my hand instead migrates to the drawer of my writing desk. Opening it, my hand withdraws my leather poetry journal that I picked up when I was in Martha’s Vineyard this October. I’ve been writing pieces in that journal, and also sketching and coloring quiet little drawings to accompany my poems. These recent poems that I’ve written in the last couple of months are easily the best poems that I’ve written; maybe the best items I’ve ever written.
Or maybe I’m just waxing poetic.
Nonetheless, I’m feeling more and more that the next book I’m going to try and get published is a collection of poetry. I suppose that’s my goal for 2016, to get a new poetry collection published. I’m sure I could make more sales and garner more of a royalty check if I put out another novel. But poetry has claimed me! I know poetry’s a niche area of literature, but it sure is a luminous niche. Isn’t it?
And I like spending time there.