Has your relationship to poetry changed in any way during the pandemic?
I am fortunate that by working at home for most of the pandemic, I was able to use what was Commute Time as non-guilty writing time. It lent me time to revisit my journals and mine them for poems or poetry inspiration.
What inspires you to write poetry. Why do it?
I write observations or narratives which can become poems or stories. In the first, handwritten draft I just try to capture a voice. I struggle to define what is a poem, other than to say it is not something that has to rhyme, not something that has to have structure. It is a moment, a story, a place, a feeling, expressed in as few words as possible. Why do I write? Because when I write I feel more fully alive and present than at any other time. Present to be frustrated, stymied, confused and sometimes alight. I write because I love it, hate it, avoid it and need it: I wouldn't want it any other way.
How do your poems transition from inspiration to draft to final version?
I tend to write a longhand draft in a journal. This might be a single verse or just an observation. First edit is when I type them, sometimes months or years later. Usually I add as I type, so the second draft is longest. Then I read them aloud and chew over them. Cut and dry. Third draft is where I play with line breaks. Fourth draft, if necessary, focuses on an ending.
What book is currently on your nightstand?
Louisiana writer Tim Gautreaux, Louise Erdrich, John McPhee, Megan O'Rourke, John Sanford
Will you please name a few poet/s (or people / role models) who inspire you?
I owe so much to the poets I have been reading: Ada Limon, Phillip Levine, Jennifer Knox, Sandra Beasley, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Natalie Diaz, Dean Young.
Do you have access to a community of writers / artists / poets?
No. I work in transportation and doubt any one of my co-workers will ever read my stuff.
Anything else you'd like to add?
My first book of poems skeeter bit & still drunk will be published in March 2022 by Finishing Line Press. My website: travisstephenswrites.com