Friday, April 24, 2015

Interview With Poet Roger Aplon

1.      Roger, what has inspired you to be a poet? Well Brian, inspiration came late to me. I didn’t have the exposure that many of my peers might have had. In fact, I’d never read poetry outside of a few classes in high school. In college I did discover T S Elliot’s The Wasteland & got hooked on tracing down all the obscure references. My first love was fiction. I discovered Steinbeck then Dostoyevsky & Conrad & then came the Beats & Ginsberg’s Howl. It was then I tried my hand at writing poetry & read every book of poetry I could find in whatever library was at hand. It was about that time a poem I’d written was published & another took a prize. I guess I was hooked & have never looked back

2.      What do you find to be challenging or rewarding as a poet? The challenge – especially in this country where poetry is, for the most part, ignored – is to not stop – write &/or edit every day. The reward is in growing: seeing your techniques ripen, output expand, insights mature & encouraging responses from readers & listeners. Sometimes reviews are encouraging too &/but in spite of those that are not, you must Be Who You Are – there’s no other choice. You’ll never write like anyone but yourself. It’s usually a blessing & maybe occasionally a curse. 

3.      What was it like putting together prose poems and stories for Intimacies? Well, books are really an evolution unto themselves. You write a few prose poems & a few stories & pretty soon a few more & then, when it strikes you, there seems to be a book – not necessarily a themed book, but a history of the years you took to write the pieces & for whatever reason there seems to be a thread that connects them in time & through the writer’s history.  The same can be said of poetry collections – years back, poets would assemble a book every four or five years to (basically) clear the decks for what will come next. Today, there’s more interest in themed collections – I don’t work that way. I’m more interested in impulse & improvisation. My collections are my history & the history of my time.

4.      What are your earlier works about? As with most collections of poetry, it’s hard to define ‘about’ – My first collection explored the urban landscape through monologues from the city & some from small town America – there were sexual themes, references & impressions from my past – memories converted (some surreal) into  language to draw the reader/listener into the experience rather than ‘teach’ ‘about’ the experience. In that first collection, I also produced poems based on photos & art works – an interest that has flourished over my entire career. My subsequent collections seem to have followed the same pattern with emphasis on the quotidian - ‘painting’ in language, impressions of my time & place. 

5.      You are also a co-founder of CHOICE Magazine.  As a publisher, what do you like to cover? I now publish (Waymark) a small poetry magazine in Beacon, NY where I live. Both the CHOICE & Waymark experience have taught me to follow my instinct when choosing poems &/or requesting edits from a writer. I like an eclectic magazine where many diverse voices converge, kind of like a modern jazz jam session. My taste & written work runs to the dark/edgy side of memory & experience. I like to publish work that does that too &/but I try to make room for calmer voices as well – as I said, eclectic.

6.      You split your time between Barcelona and New York City. Not a bad lifestyle, eh?  That was about 5 years back & it was between Barcelona & San Diego. I often wish that were still the case, But – times changed - after 8 years, I left Barcelona & moved, eventually, to Beacon – Not to say I won’t go back – In fact, I visited last summer. No. I’m older now & a home near NYC where I can write, publish & still be in touch with the ‘bigger picture’ seems ideal – at least for the moment.

7.      What advice do you have for struggling writers? Read all you can & write every day. BUT. Unless you must, don’t read when you’re writing – it can compromise of your own voice.  I have a sign in my office that reads: You Must Write What You Think You Cannot Write. That’s the best advice I can give – Write everyday, read the past & follow your instincts. Oh, & never – ever – try to write like someone else. It won’t work.

8.      What do you see as the future for book publishing? I’m hardly qualified to speak to that. What I would hope is to find small presses that continue to produce books for those of us who take risks in out writing – Be it E-Books or books-in-hand – it’s still nice to hold one, flip the pages, read at random & see what writers see when they commit ink to paper. Before we end, I’d like to speak about book distribution & reviews – the lack of both are stumbling blocks for all writers especially those who do not follow the mainstream &/or stray into unknown waters. We are the ones who need both to keep our spirits up & thriving.

For more information, please consult:

Writers, please never violate these three rules!

How much longer should outdated phrases last?

The new book reading experience: 1915 vs. 2015

Great quotations to lift your writing

Amazing New Photography Book Culls 4 Million Images Into 1,100

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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