On the off chance you don’t follow me on Twitter, you have missed out. The hilarious, intelligent, and oftentimes dirty banter between the following author and I runs long and deep. (That’s what she said) Hear what Poet Robert Zimmermann has to say about books, blogs, and Mary Poppins in what is his first interview, but most certainly won’t be his last.
How old were you when you began writing?
I was, um I need to actually think about this. I was in eleventh grade. It was late September or early October, 2004. So I was…..opens up calculator on computer…fifteen? I think that’s about it. Sorry, those days are a blur and I never really pay attention to age.
Why have you chosen poetry as your medium over novels, or short stories?
Damn, you’re really trying to make me work here. Oh well. I need a good mental workout anyway.
I chose poetry because it comes easy to me. There’s more to it than that, but above all it’s easier for me to write poetry than another other form of writing (and I’ve tried). I think another reason is because it is what I first started doing when I began writing. One day (a day in Sept/Oct 2004) I walked into school and my then girlfriend handed me a poem she wrote for me. Something in my mind clicked. “I can write poetry as well.”
Who were your favorite poets growing up?
This is a funny question. I don’t think I had my first book of poetry until I bought one my freshman year of college. I only had a small amount of knowledge about poets from probably a week’s worth of lessons in some English class.
So let’s change that to “Who were your favorite poets when you became a big kid in college?” Yea that sounds better.
My answer: Robert Frost, Jim Morrison (for those who don’t know, read his books not just his lyrics,) Walt Whitman. Those were some of my earliest purchases and I still enjoy reading them all.
Who are your favorite modern poets?
I don’t know what you’re definition of modern is. When I was taking classes it was basically Whitman & Dickenson to today’s poetry. You can also think modern is just contemporary I guess. (If you haven’t noticed I like to question your questions. I’m just cool like that.)
As I said in the previous question, Frost, Morrison, and Whitman. There are some more great poets who I think I enjoy even more and have influenced me greatly as well. Sylvia Plath is a big one. There are also poets here and there that I’ve read a few poems of but would like to read more. So I can’t say they’re my favs.
Aside from the typical answers I just gave there are a few poets that just blow me away. One’s my favorite professor from my last few years of college, James Allen Hall. He has one book out and I think reading it helped me learn even more than just what he taught in his classes. Through Hall I was introduced me to Jericho Brown’s book Please. I had the pleasure of meeting him at a reading as well.
To finish up this long answer, I’d like to say that one of my top favorites now is Marie Howe. Simply put she’s amazing to the point that I sat in the college library on two consecutive occasions to read her book. (That’s a big deal because I don’t like libraries, especially because of the tease of reading a book but not being able to keep it.)
If you had to choose one poet, whose work you idolized, who would it be?
ONE poet? Are you mad? OK, we know you are a bit, but who isn’t.
It’d be a close race between a few of the poets listed above. To choose one, I think I’d go with James Hall. This is very much due to the way he helped me develop my own poetry. I don’t think that if I had another professor for my poetry workshop, that I would have turned my poetry into what it is today.
For that experience and his poetry in general, I’d idolize him. I’m not sure if I’d frame his picture and kiss it every night before bed, but he’ll be in my thoughts when I’m struggling with a poem.
Why do you hate Mary Poppins? She is practically perfect in every way.
Ok to explain this to the readers who don’t follow us on Twitter (how dare you, people at least follow Jess. You don’t NEED to follow me, but it’d make me smile a bit if you did): There was a conversation about Disney movies, etc recently. It got to the point where I stated I didn’t like musicals. Mostly this is musicals on movie form. I don’t like Mary Poppins because of this, and it’s too long of a kids movie. I can’t sit down for a movie unless it’s REALLY ENGAGING. Most of the time I’ll start it and watch the rest later if I can’t sit still long enough.
The character of Mary Poppins, I have no problem with. I want to (if I ever find them) read the Mary Poppins books. So I stick my tongue out to you because I don’t hate her. I just loathe the movie.
What topic do you find yourself writing about most?
Early on, my poetry was basic “boy figuring out love” stuff. Writing poems about love and what I felt at the moment. There was some other observational stuff about the world. Most of it though I don’t know, it’s just what it is.
Recently, I find myself…OK not recently because I finally wrote my first poem in over a year…writing about my life. Mainly my father comes up as a topic. With that the overall broken family situation.
Sounds like a great uplifting read doesn’t it? Well, it’s not but it’s the emotion I seem to thrive on and so far with the small collection of that stuff I have, I feel that it’s helped me figure out things inside my own mind better. It was sort of a therapy, better than anything I could have gotten from avoiding the topic (which I think I did for too many years).
How do you feel when it comes to rhyming in poetry?
DON’T DO IT!!!!!
Let me summarize that last statement…DON’T DO IT!!!!!
Ok really this time. Rhyming has its place in poetry. A majority of that place was back in the eighteen hundreds. Also it has a great place and necessity in children’s books.
I think that most people who rhyme in their poetry don’t have an understanding that it’s not necessary. If you ask someone when they are first starting out, to write a poem (in my experience) the first question they’ll ask when needing help is: “What can I rhyme with the word coffee?” That’s just a random word, if they are good enough to put coffee in a poem (yum I love coffee) then they probably aren’t rhyming.
Back to my point. It can be pleasing to the ear to read rhyme, but normally for me I get caught in the pattern and forget the rest of the word on the line. I want something much more engaging than a poem that’s pleasing to the ear. I don’t want to fly through the rhyme and miss the meat of the poem.
For those who do rhyme and do it well, more power to you. I look forward to enjoying those poems.
So bottom line, do it at your own expense. Don’t do it because you think poems need rhyme, because they don’t. Do it because the poem you are writing will benefit from it.
Have you ever written a poem for someone? If so, who?
I have about 300 written for a “someone.” A few people technically. Those were mainly for girlfriends. As I said my early work was all lovey dovey (shitty).
With my newer stuff, the work I’m actually proud of, you can also say I wrote it for someone. I wrote one as a letter to my father. A few others also seem to be directed to him. They weren’t really written for him though. It was more he’s the subject, but not the audience I aim to get the words to. I don’t know really how that would go if he did read them…I won’t even get into that though. Ultimately I wrote them for myself. Through writing the poems, I gained insight into my feelings, my past, and who I really am as a person.
What is your favorite part of your blog?
I really just started blogging, so there’s not much to be favorited (new word?)
What I enjoy most about doing a blog is really just all of it. I’d be reading books anyway. By doing the reviews I have opened myself up to a world of new writers and great people. I also like that with the other random posts and the new “Authors I Love” series of posts I’m doing, I get to share who I am. It’s cool to be able to get myself out there and find people like me. The comments are also a great thing about blogging. Discussing something after it’s been posted and read by people around the world, that’s very entertaining and rewarding.
Who are your favorite current writers? (Aside from me of course)
Yes, for sure you’re one of my favorite current writers Jess. I’m not just saying that because you are so kind to let me review your book AND interview you…then in turn interview me. It’s true, you’ve written a great book.
Other great writers I’ve recently fallen in love with:
Rebecca Hamilton: She’s the author of The Forever Girl. It’s a great book, and the beginning of what will turn into an equally great seven book series (along with novellas).
S.M. Boyce: She wrote the first book of her Grimoire Trilogy, called Lichgates. It’s a great book taking place in the beautiful and treacherous world of Ourea. Check it out, the trilogy will be EPIC…also one word needs to be said: FLICK!
Ok, let’s speed this up. I don’t need to keep advertising for great writers, their work tells it all. Brandon Luffman, Noree Cosper, TL Tyson, Karina Halle, and J. Scott Sharp.
I have been introduced to many great writers recently, so I’ll just stick to those names right now. If you need more check out who I follow on Twitter, there are SO MANY.
Do you ever worry that your massive collection of books will crush you to death one day?
Well this is a great question. It’s just so great of a question that I’ll share a tiny widdle itty bitty story with you. A few weeks ago I was either searching for a book in my various shelves or just reorganizing, doesn’t really matter which I guess. So I was looking through the hardcovers and put a few stacks on the top shelf to clear up the lower ones. All of a sudden I hear a noise and look up just in time to have a stack of five nice sized hardcovers crash onto my face. I think it made me prettier at least. There was no blood luckily, don’t want to ruin the books. It was just a sore face and a look of disbelief that my books attacked me. It lasted only a few minutes.
That’s the only near death experience with my books…so far. Aside from that, I don’t think it’d be easy to be crushed by them unless I lie on the floor and wait for the shelves to give way. Even the ones at the foot of my bed will only crush my legs. So I’m good, I think.
If you could take one book with you to a deserted island, what book would it be?
Easy, I’d look up (before I willingly get put on the deserted island…since well if I can take a book with me I have enough time for Google and a trip to the store. Or Amazon. Do they ship to deserted islands?) the best guide to surviving fucked up predicaments like living on a deserted island. I’d be an expert by the time someone came to check up on me since it’s the only book I’d be able to read there.
Do you want a more “typical” answer? I’m sure you do. One book to choose for a stay on a deserted island would be Stephen King’s The Stand. I was going to say War and Peace or some other insanely epically lengthy classic, but I’ll stick to the King. There are others that are my favorites, but I’m going to be there for quite a while. I need something with a massive amount of pages. This way I can forget the beginning before I get to the end. Each time I read it, it’ll be like reading it for the first time. It’s also because it’s one my TBR list for this year and I really want to get to it. OK I should probably grab that right? I see hear a helicopter in the area, I’m guessing your men are on their way for me.
Ok got it, I think I have time to answer one more question before they kidnap me.
What is your favorite thing you have ever written?
Oh, all this favorite crap. Can’t people just be happy to write, haha. To be honest I don’t know what my favorite thing I’ve written is. I know it’s something in the collection I’m working on. I have a few favorites in there. Basically there was a favorite, then I wrote another and I loved that one, and so on.
If you really want me to pick one, I would go with a poem called Your Blue Suit. It’s one of two I wrote with my grandfather as the main subject. He passed away the May before I wrote this collection and this poem was REALLY hard for me to write, but it helped me deal with a lot of things. So, yea, that and the other one about him Stuck would be some of my favorite pieces.
Who am I? That's easy, I'm me. Oh yea, more about me. Well I can be identified as a poet dabbling in fiction here and there. I also love books and read as much as I can. I run the blog, A Life Among The Pages where I review the latest books I get my hands on. I also post some poems or stories I work on along with random book related posts.
I'm the proud owner of two pointless college degrees (A.A. Humanites & B.A. Creative Writing). That means I still live at home. But I'm surrounded by numerous books and a strange but adorable puppy named Deuc.
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