poet interviews


 We are now featuring one of our poets every so often. Send us a message if you are interested in being featured.


March's Featured Poet: Maya Charisse

a) How old are you?

I am 19 years old.

b)How do you get inspired to write poems? walks? music? free writing?

What inspires me most when writing poetry are my experiences with life. Usually that begins with free-writing. At the beginning and end of mostly every day I write about my thoughts and what happened, or something I've learned. A situation that has affected me most in my day is usually what sparks my interest in forming a poem. A single line or phrase will come to mind and from there my creativity takes over.

c) Pablo Neruda said, " poetry came in search of me."  Did poetry find you or did you find poetry? In essence, how did you get hooked on poetry?

I would have to say poetry came in search of me. In middle school I began to to find that writing was a release and it never occurred to me that I should write poetry. After reading some of my friend's poetry  I thought that I should start writing myself. From that point on I realized that this was something I was good at and it came naturally to me.

d) What do you like about writing poetry?

What I like about writing poetry is that I can convey the images in my head through words. I am able to show the reader what I see because unfortunately my artwork isn't the best. When I am writing poetry I love the feeling of seeing phrases and pictures simultaneously, and ultimately being able to express myself.

e) Do you have a favorite poet? poem?

My favorite poet is someone who goes by the name, The Poet Chels. I have been following her on Tumblr for a while, and I believe she is going to become a famous poet one day because her work now is amazing! My favorite poem is a recent one of hers and it is called, "This Poem Is Not For You." I can relate and plus it's simply beautiful.

f) What three words do you absolutely love the sound of?

Scrupulous, plethora, and serenity.

 g) If you could hang out with any poet, who and why? 

Although I'd love to hang out with Chels, because we are the same age, I'd have to say I want to hang out with Maya Angelou. The reason being is that I was named after her, and I would be so honored to meet the woman and amazing poet who I share a name with.

 h) Favorite things to write about?

My favorite things to write about are the images in my head, fantasies, and life experiences. If you are to read some of my earlier entries here, you will notice they are quite depressing, and that is from actual life experiences. Whereas now, if you read more recent ones they are more fantasies or simply images. That is what I like to write about most.

July's Featured Poet: Sawyer Tennant

OBP: How old are you?

ST: I’m thirteen years old.

OBP: In what state do you live?

ST:I live in California.

OBP: How do you get inspired to write (walks, music, free writing)?

ST: I don’t force myself to think and think until I can come up with
something that I can write about. There tends to be breaks in between
my poems while I’m waiting for inspiration. Inspiration, for me, can
come from small remarks, or songs, or sports, etc. Basically anything
can light my ‘poetic spark.’ When I’m traveling, away from places and
sights I’m used to, I seem to notice more things that inspire me.
Bluish-gray clouds, an old man in a French café, things I normally
wouldn’t pay attention to. I really enjoy watching nature (sunsets,
beaches, rain), or walking in nature. There, my head is cleared, and I
focus on my senses and see if I can get something out of it.

OBP: Pablo Neruda said, “Poetry came in search of me.” Did you find poetry
or did it find you? In essence, how did you get hooked on poetry?


ST: I found poetry through my English teacher and class. We had begun a
poetry unit, and after each assignment, I started to like it more and
more. It came to me naturally, so I stuck to it. I kept practicing and
improving, and, even after the unit was over, I joined this site and
didn’t stop writing.

OBP: What do you like about writing poetry?

ST: My issue tends to be using too many words. ‘I use four words when I
could use two.’ In one sentence, those words seem to be crammed
together. But in poetry, it doesn’t have to be in sentences. You can
play with the format however you want. I also like how you can put in
to words what you normally wouldn’t say out loud.

OBP: Do you have a favorite poet? Poem?

ST: I went threw a huge ‘ode’ phase, which started when my English teacher
introduced me to Pablo Neruda’s odes. In case some of you don’t know
what odes are, they are when a poet writes positively about a certain
(normally) inanimate object. I’d have to say that my favorite poet is
Pablo Neruda, and my favorite poem, which I recommend to all of you,
is ‘Ode to the Onion.’ I posted it in the ‘Best Lines’ category on
this site. His odes are also one of the things that inspire my

OBP: What three words do you absolutely love the sound of?

ST:Cadaverous, glacial, and bucolic.

OBP: If you could hang out with any poet, who and why?

ST: Pablo Neruda, because I would like to ask him all the questions asked
above. Of course, there’ll need to be a translator there.

OBP: Favorite things to write about?

ST:I really enjoy writing about eyes. They’re so intricate and different
and unique. There are so many ways to describe them: glacial blue,
black cherry, swampy. In addition, I love to write similes. They give
a much better picture of the theme or setting you’re trying to
portray. I love the idea of comparing two different objects.




  Dante's main page



OBP:  How old are you?


DP: I'm 16 years old.

OBP: How do you get inspired to write poems? walks? music? free writing?


DP: I don't believe that my work would be greatly cohesive without the influence of music. Music and poetry, in their essence, are entwined in a very romantic matrimony. I listen to all kinds of genres and artists. Johann Jóhannsson is an Icelandic composer whose music is just heavenly. There is a haunting quality in his work and I highly recommend it. I listen to tons of classical, among other things, as well as work from Johnny Cash, Ludovico Einaudi, Yo-Yo Ma, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel--their music is so trippy--Smashing Pumpkins, and Nine Inch Nails, arguably the most enthralling group of musicians I’ve ever heard. In fact, I must listen to at least eighty different artists when I write. Free writing plays a large part in my creative process as well. Some of my best work comes from free writing. When you don't have time to think, the truth comes out entirely uninhibited.

OBP: In his poem, "Poetry," Pablo Neruda said, "poetry came in search of me."  Did poetry find you or did you find poetry? In essence, how did you get hooked on poetry?

DP: Neruda was correct. Before my first year in high school, I wrote on and off for a little while but it was nothing serious. Within the first two or three weeks of school, it is customary for the freshmen class to go out on a camp retreat in order to get introduced to one another. Customarily, it’s a wonderful time to gather and break out of that horrid nervous high school phase. We were at Camp Cavell in Port Huron for a little less than four days. On the final night before we left to return home, we had a talent show. I wanted to make a name for myself but I wasn’t sure what “showy” talent I had or if I had one to begin with. Thinking of nothing but clichés, I decided to write a poem. I’d seen people perform their poems for these kinds of things before so I thought, “Hey, what the hell?” I spent that entire day preparing my poem. I paced, and thought, scribbled, and erased until it became compulsive. I remember sitting along the shore of Lake Huron, looking out onto the water as I tried to get inspired. Well, it happened. It was along that shore that the water made the poet. The result was a poem entitled Free. I remember being called in the line-up of performers. I wasn’t sure how this group would respond and so I read. I stuttered a few times and I thought I was done for. But I completed it. Miraculously, my peers gave me a storybook moment by giving a standing ovation. It was my first. And at that point, I knew that I was hooked on the power of words.

OBP: What do you like about writing poetry?


DP: What do I like, eh? I’ll have to make sure I stay within reasonable limits with my response. I could write for hours on what I like but I’ll give a shot at something short. Firstly, I believe that poetry is an intimate understanding of the human condition. We might not all be poets, but poetry runs in our veins. If we experience the phenomenon of emotion—love, fear, bliss, sympathy—we become a part of that eternal system of poetry. Of words and truth and reality and history. Poetry, to some, has been sadly misinterpreted as something almost resembling a cliché. However, to those that write it and truly care about what it is that they write or type or whatever, poetry is humanity. I believe that the job of poets is not to preach but to understand, empathize, and present something profound. And I’m not talking world changing. If you can change the heart or mind of somebody, if you can cheer them up or at least make them consider what you have said, then you have done the poet’s work. You have served as an instrument for beauty and wisdom. And the great thing is, you can be creative with it. That’s right. You don’t have to be bland! Poetry, among many other things, is fun. And I can tell you from experience, that if you write something, people respond to it, and tell you that they found something powerful in that…it’s one of the best feelings in the world.

OBP: Do you have a favorite poet? poem?


DP: Oh boy, well I read a lot of miscellaneous stuff. Actually, it just so happens that I recently became interested in the woman who is now my favorite poet. Anne Sexton, the confessional poet of the 1950s and 60s, is superb. Her words are so delicate and her story equally as tragic. I actually wrote one of my poems, A Poet’s Confession, in honor of Sexton’s legacy and style. My favorite poem—surprise—was also written by Sexton and it is entitled For Johnny Pole on the Forgotten Beach. It tells of the devastating effects of war and the sudden revelation of death is amazingly impactful. The poem’s allure lay in its bluntness. I was so inspired by her, in fact, that I’m always considering which historical character to depict in a fictional piece of mine and she always comes to mind. Her and Lorca. If you don’t know him, explore a little bit. Learn something new.

OBP: What three words do you absolutely love the sound of?

DP: That’s not fair! There are so many gorgeous words. Gossamer. Dazzling. Serendipity. You’ll find them all used at least once in my poems.

OBP: If you could hang out with any poet, who and why?

Philip Levine. I haven’t read all of his work but I have read his most recent News of the Worlds (2010). Levine’s voice has a gritty, unflinching use of words and he comes from Detroit, a place with a vivid history worth all his words and more. I’ve cultivated a renewed sense of respect and awe for the city. For a long time, I had harbored a superficial condescension of Detroit because I’d heard so much about why it was so destitute, so barren and devoid of worth. That is when I could not find the special quality of the derelict. The emotional resonance of such a diverse place. And Levine seems to capture it seamlessly. I’d love to talk more about his influences and why he chose his particular style of writing. Basically, I’d ask what any writer would ask such a prestigious figure.

OBP:  What are some of your favorite things to write about?


DP: Well I’ve noticed that not all of my poems are the “happiest”. I don’t intentionally go out of my way to write anything depressing. I am a person who fully supports the concept of optimism and hope. But in my poems, something raw and tinged with a hue of darkness may be revealed. As much as we wish it were different, the world is not a peaceful place. Our lives may be temporarily peaceful in a peaceful place with peaceful people. But our world is not yet there. I tend to reflect that blatancy with my words because of the multitude of people I’ve observed with their own problems, their own aspirations, their own thoughts and ideas. I’ve written about lost love, death, human sympathy and selfishness, superficiality, nature’s beauty, and our imperfectability, among other things. I’ve expressed more personal sentiments regarding my place as an African-American male in my community, as well as the love shown by my family. I’m going to try to lighten up, though. I’ve told a few of my peers that my next one will be lighthearted. Maybe even funny. Yes, the truth can be “heavy” and “deep” at times. But there’s no harm in balancing it with a joke and a smile.



Comment by Guillermo Olmos Fernández on January 8, 2015 at 4:13pm

Love the interviews, it's good to see the background and inspirations from each poet


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