This is the first post in a new series called “A Draught of Vintage Artist Series”. The series will consist of interviews with artists of all kinds: florists, musicians, photographers, potters, poets, painters, map makers, filmmakers, and makers of all kinds. It will serve as a way to promote local and small-batch artists as well as expose the readership to beautiful artwork being created today.
I had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Michael Horan and interview him about his poetry and current projects. Check out his writings and audio recordings on his website Michael-Horan.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
ADoV: Explain your mental and material process for writing poetry. What is your first step and where do you go from there?
MH: I typically think of a first line while doing other things. Trying to go to sleep, for example, or driving, or working. It’s not inspiration, but a matter of you need a first line so you can write a poem. I get in trouble if I keep on composing it in my head because I might not remember the other lines if I get past the first stanza or so. The first line always sticks with me because it’s the hardest to get. However, the first line might become the fifth, or some other, after polishing. It usually would be displaced from the beginning if the poem is too abstract. With those poems, I find I have to ground them in an image, which means the abstract lines come in later.
ADoV: What about the material process?
MH: I have to be sitting down, usually on a chair or couch rather than at a desk or table. It makes for messy handwriting. Unruled, statement size Moleskin journals and a Pilot v5 Precise pen. After the poem is mostly intact, I will polish lines and half-lines on a computer, but if the revisions become too involved, I have to rewrite it down on paper. The first draft would be too riddled with mark outs and carrots and arrows to use it for any other substantial revisions.
ADoV: Do you have a topic or a vision for the poem before you start?
MH: I might have a single word, but apart from that, really my only goal is to write a poem. When I start to compose, there is a process of testing the water with clichés…the sky is blue, I went down to the sea, it’s a beautiful night, the flowers smell of honey…then breaking them up and rearranging them until you have a line that isn’t boring. Then the other lines follow as the image solidifies or as the ideas, associations, and logic implicit in the language become more apparent.
ADoV: Why do you write poems? What are you seeking to communicate or explore through your poems?
MH: The idea of poetry and the idea that I am a person who writes poems are very distant from me, really somewhat of an annoyance. When I think about it abstractly, it seems to be an entirely useless process of narcissistic self-reflection. A charade. But it’s redeemable because language is too important. I write because the process of writing is engrossing. The prospect of arranging words and ideas in an entirely original way is too great to pass up. It’s not narcissism because you still brush your teeth twice a day and wash the dishes. As far as communicating and exploring, it’s about the beauty of sound and the sound of beauty, and that is all ye need to know.
ADoV: What/who are your influences?
MH: Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, T.S. Eliot, John Keats, Chris Petter, and Dante.
ADoV: What’s the next big thing for you?
MH: I am working on a big project on my website called The Poetry Audio Blog (link: Michael-horan.com/the-poetry-audio-blog). Recording great poems and posting them. It gives me the chance to memorize poems, and I don’t have to create anything new. The poet has already done all the work. It has the added benefit of getting some good language in my head for my own work. I plan to do around 50 recordings in quick fashion, and then settle into a one recording a week rhythm. Anybody who’s interested can subscribe for email updates here (www.michael-horan.com/blog-subscribe)
Category: Aesthetics, Artist, Dallas, Dante, Michael Horan, poetic knowledge, Poetic Mana, Poetic Thoughts, poetic voice, Poetry, Shakespeare, Writer