Written by Sherry Blue Sky
Well, kids, here’s a scoop! I had to twist his arm, a LOT, but today we’re sitting down with the creator and founder of Poets United! He demurred, but I pointed out that he is a poet in this community too, and we are as interested in him and his creative process as we are in every other writer. He agreed, under protest. So yes, today we’re sitting down with none other than the Big Guy himself, moderator par excellence, Robert Lloyd!
When Robert writes up a Life of a Poet interview, he always seems to know exactly the right quote to use, in introducing his subject. For him, more than a quote, I envision a scene: I see a small country bar, something lovelorn playing on the juke box, dust motes swirling in the late afternoon sun, and Robb leaning back against the bar, arms crossed, cowboy hat tilted down, in deep reflection, (cooking up a poem!), boots crossed at the ankle. Not sure why, just can’t shake this image!
On his blog, Burdens and Smiles, Robb has Wordsworth’s quote: “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” This seems apt. Robb writes about his everyday feelings and experiences, and one gets a real sense of his life when visiting his sites and reading his work.
PU: First of all, can you clear up a mystery for us? Do you prefer to be called Robb or Robert, or does it matter, as long as we don’t call you late for dinnerJ?
Robb: As a writer, I prefer Robert because it just seems more dignified to me. As a hip dude, I go by Robb. At least that’s what I thought was cool way back in my youth, when I added the extra “b” to my shortened name, lol.
PU: What is the story behind the name of your blog?
Robb: My main blog, where I keep my original poetry, is called Burdens & Smiles. It’s sort of a rolling documentary of my life. I share or reveal all the burdens and smiles of my everyday life, through words.
[PU: Robb has a second blog, The Migration of Words, the site of his prompt and meme writing. There are some fantastic poems in there, as well. Be sure to check out both sites.]
PU: When did you start Poets United? What was your hope or vision for the site when you began?
Robb: I started Poets United in June. I had been thinking about it for a bit because of my interaction with other communities. I usually would stumble onto an inactive community, or a community where it was very self-serving, and it annoyed me. I wanted people to read what I wrote in my poetry, but at the same time I wanted to read their work. Initially, I had planned to start a blogroll, just to get folks to visit one another, but then I quickly realized the potential of the site.
PU: I was amazed to learn how relatively new the site is, given how interactive and “happening” it is. Has it met or exceeded your expectations?
Robb: Has Poets United exceeded my expectations? I can give an overwhelming yes. This community has grown because of the folks here and their dedication. I actually got scared there for a bit, as it was becoming overwhelming. “Good Lord, what have I done?” I thought to myself.” I don’t want to disappoint these people, but it’s hard to keep up.” The folks here fixed that concern. We have about 10 regular contributors, and folks are always willing to help. This place is a good thing, but not because of me. It’s because of everyone in this community.
[We beg to differ. Everyone helps by responding to the prompts, joining in the activities, supporting each other and helping out where we can. But it is Robb’s vision that set this all in motion, and gave us a forum to read and share our work, a place to appreciate and be inspired by other poets’ poetry. I think we all agree he does a fantastic job of moderating, keeping on top of things , making sure everyone has a chance to share their work, and generally keeping the site active and interesting. You do a great job, Robb. Seriously.]
PU: Tell us a little about yourself, Robb. What is your life like? What people or critters share space with you?
Robb: I could write a book about my adventures, and it would probably be longer than War and Peace or the Bible. I will save you from that though, lol. I served in the military for ten years, working in human and animal medicine. I attended five different colleges and universities.
Currently, I work as a numbers cruncher for an environmental company, in San Antonio, Texas. I have never lived in one place for more than 5 years, so it’s nearly time for me to move again. I have traveled the world, near and far. I was born to a German mother and Puerto Rican father in Germany. I live with my fiancé and an awesome roommate. We have three cats and a dog. I will be getting married April 2, 2011, to the most wonderful woman ever. She set my ship straight when it was near tipping, and has been my guiding light since. We have been engaged now for three years. Lol, not lazy, though, just want to pay for everything up front. Love is patient, and so are we.
PU: See why the country scene with the juke box? There is a love story here, kids. On Robb’s Robb and Amber site, right above the photo of Robb in a t-shirt featuring a bride and groom and the words “Game Over”, Robb has featured a quote by Shakespeare:
“He is the half part of a blessed man
left to be finished by such as she:
And she a fair divided excellence
whose fullness of perfection lies in him.”
PU: Congratulations on your approaching marriage, Robb. We wish you both the very best.
You two look good together! What would your ideal life look like, if you could live anywhere and do anything?
Robb: I am living the ideal life, honestly. I don’t want for much, I am in love and I get to write. I’d say that’s pretty ideal. I could use an extra 25 grand to be perfect, but I’m not greedy, so I take it as it comes.
My life is a bit crazy and my Fiancee thinks I am a nut. She says I am going to drive her to an early grave. She cannot stand my energy sometimes. I am an Idea man, always starting something new. My week is a crazy one that I bring on myself. Aside from managing Poets United, I work a full time job. I Volunteer twice a week at a local Church, where every Sunday and Monday we move over 10,000 pounds of ramps and rails, and set up and take down an indoor Skate Park. It’s a safer place for the kids to skateboard.
Robb: I play organized sports at least twice weekly, have created a foodie club where we have themed meals meeting often, write on at least six separate blogs, head a beer sampling club that meets weekly (not to get drunk, just to savour). On top of all this, I am a sports junkie and heavily involved in fantasy sports. I live off of roughly 5 hours of sleep doing all this. I am a social butterfly and love to travel, so mix that all together with loving my soon-to-be wife and I don’t think there is enough time in a day for me. What I wouldn’t give for a 32 hour day instead of a 24 hour one, lol. In short, if you met me, you’d get sucked into my world and leave very tired.
PU: I’m tired just reading about it Are you requesting energy pills for Amber for wedding gifts?? Or maybe nap coupons?
Robb: I’m out of town right now, while we’re doing this interview!
PU: I’d say “get outta town!”, but it seems you already are!
PU: When did you first really feel like a writer, a poet? What makes you want to write? Do you remember writing your first poem?
Robb: I was about 15 or 16 when I started writing, but it really took off when I was in the military. I was a scoundrel and a dog, and I learned the power of words, imagination and lies. Combine that with a young GI and you can only imagine what I was like. Truth be told, writing got me women. There wasn’t much substance to my writing. It was a “roses are red, violets are blue, what can I say to get a kiss from you?” You can exchange a kiss for a number of other things. I ramble, I know, sorry. At about the age of 30 or so, I realized I could write better, and gravitated toward a more educated and honest style of writing. I matured, both in life and with my pen.
PU: What style of poem do you write the most? What about poetry do you find the most annoying or unreadable, and why?
Robb: I write mainly Free Verse and Prose, but I’m willing to try anything. I have no right to critique, so if I find something unreadable it’s not because it’s bad, it’s just not my style. I respect everyone’s writing, because you have to start somewhere.
PU: Where do you stand on the internet question: do you feel the internet has created better exposure for poets, or that it has flooded the market? Has it helped or hurt poetry?
Robb: I think it has done both, but in the end the good outweighs the bad. Yeah, there may be a bit of over-exposure, but we have the ultimate option to read or not read. So thank you, Internet, for giving me a forum!
PU: I second that! Do you have a particular writing process, or conditions you need in order to write? When do you write the most? When you are happy, sad, lonely, day or night?
Robb: I am an unbiased writer. I used to write only when sad or moody, and realized I was not capturing all of my life on paper, so I forced myself to write even when happy. When the mood strikes, the pen or key board is in easy reach, and I write.
PU: What poem, written by you, do you like the most, and why? Is there a story behind it?
Robb: I can’t say I truly have a favourite. I am too critical of my own work. If I read it a few times over, I find its faults. This means my favourites change. For now, I will say this one: Simplicity. It’s simple and about the love of my life, so since she is my favourite, it’s my favourite poem.
Or her tears
And her rights
And her nights
Her silly moments
And her madness
Or her sadness
Or her Pleasure
All of this,
PU: Beautiful! You are such a romantic! Do you have a favourite poet? What is your favourite poem by them?
Robb: It’s a toss-up between Edgar Allen Poe, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost or....Bob Dylan. I know the last one is not considered a poet, but considering he can’t really sing, his words are striking. My favourite poem has to be Dylan Thomas’ “Do not go gentle into that good night.” It’s a powerful poem that has followed me throughout life. I even wrote a poem about it. Rodney Dangerfield Taught Me Poetry
[PU: In this poem, Robb races around the house in a towel-cape, “uttering in my fake man voice Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I love that image! Pretty cute!]
My favourite poem of Robb’s is Laughter Revolution which was recently featured as a
Poem of the Week. I especially love the wonderful lines:
“Let us be spent by one another’s exhausting joy”
And “We need to relish today so that tomorrow
they know it is what they will do.”
If you missed it as poem of the week, check it out here: Laughter Revolution
PU: Have you ever been published? Do you write with hopes of being published one day, or is your writing an expression or hobby for you?
Robb: Writing is my release. I constantly think I should put together a chapbook for submission, but never manage to. I am so active and get so busy. I was published in school, and a couple of times in college, but nothing to brag about.
PU: Do you listen to music when you write? What is your favourite type of music?
Robb: I am a music lover, and it’s always on. I can go from classical to heavy metal to rap and then to country. I love talent, and have a good ear. The most common music I listen to is Indie rock and Folk. I like finding the obscure. The last albums I bought were Mumford and Sons, Flogging Molly and Betty Steeles. Like I said, obscure. I despise MTV and Radio. I want originality, not force-fed media-driven over-produced talentless crud. Lol, no strong opinions here.
PU: If you could have dinner with any famous person, who would it be?
Robb: Audrey Hepburn. She was regal, elegant, sexy, smart and anything else wonderful. I could sit and stare at her while listening to her talk for hours. They don’t make them like her any more, do they? My fiancé is not threatened by her because I have no chance and she’s passed away, so it’s an allowable obsession, lol.
PU: Do you have a secret dream of being a rock star? If you could be one, who would you most closely resemble, and what kind of music would you play?
PU: Any activities that we’ve missed?
Robb: I am a mean rock, paper scissors player!
PU: That’s in all that spare time you have, right? So, to wrap up, what quote do you use often, or live by?
Robb: Everyone always sees mine. “He who laughs....Lasts.” I laugh every day and shrug off the bad things. It’s the only way to live, I tell ya.
PU: Robb, thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. It is a scoop for me, and an honour to do it. The other members will be so happy to know more about you. You do such a great job at Poets United. You have opened the door to a supportive creative community to so many of us who don’t have one where we live. Finding Poets United was one of the best things that happened to me this year. It has re-energized my writing life and for that, I can’t thank you enough!
Isn’t it cool to know more about the Big Guy? If you haven’t done it already, check out both of Robb’s sites at Burdens and Smiles, and The Migration of Words . There are gems in there! And a way cool love story, for us romantics!
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(This interview was conducted by Sherry Blue Sky. If you would like to learn more about Sherry or read some her very own poetry you can do so by visiting her blog "Stardreaming With Sherry Blue Sky". Sherry is a regular contributor to Poets United and we would like to thank her for all of her hard work and look forward to future posts)
There is much more to a poet than just their poetry. The folks that live behind the pen can be some of the most interesting people around. We look forward to giving our readers an intimate and personal look at some of the other poets found here at Poets United in future, so be sure to return to Poets United each week to see who we chat with next. Who knows, it might be you!
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