Poet Focus: Brian Walter
What is your current profession? How do you juggle your work and your writing?
I am partly retired from a career of lecturing and, more recently, community work. I mentor a community poetry group in Helenvale, PE. This takes a lot of time, but mentoring poets – writing with them – helps my writing. So, in a way, my work and writing are finally one.
With which person, living or dead, would you most like to have a conversation?
Perhaps Seamus Heaney for the poetic interest, if he’d talk and I listen. I like his “life- lived” work. Or Steve Biko, if he would talk and allow me to ask questions, so I could learn better how to “be” in our country at present.
What is the most compelling lesson you have learned thus far from the Covid-19 pandemic?
I see great need for kindness, and less human arrogance (or Pride, the sort that goes before the fall, that leads to racism, or environmental destruction). Lockdown makes time for my garden. Working with herbs and other plants is a fine way to touch the earth, feel the seasons, learn patience, and meditate on where food comes from.
Which poets are you currently reading or who inspire you?
Bashō and Hardy (re-reading Spenser, but less for inspiration but to understand allegory). Then dipping into PE poets, just finished Dolla Sapeta’s “sceptical erections”: the Deep South writers. Feet on the ground stuff.
ADVICE TO NEW/Younger POETS
- Write as a habit, journal, try to write every day.
- Enjoy your work, but try not to be too proud or precious; learn that your first draft is not going to be your best; that the effectiveness of a poem lies in creative editing; enjoy editing as much as your initial writing.
- Write from your own life, describe, and develop imagery from what you see and know: avoid abstract “ideas” that are tempting, but too broad to marry meaning and emotion. Be grounded.
BOOKS YOU ARE READING DURING LOCKDOWN
- Thomas Hardy novels
- We watched the whole “Big Bang Theory” series!
- Andrew Lloyd Webber free streams
- New Dylan album coming!