Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Life of a Poet – The Tired Monk

This interview was Written and done by Sherry Blue Sky

Well, kids, time for the Big Reveal! Is the Tired Monk really tired? Is he really a monk? Does he wear those robes he writes about? Stay tuned, because today we are sitting down with Old Ollie of Humbucker Poems, to get the real scoop! (I so want to believe he is real, I hope he doesn’t burst my bubble. It would be like finding out there’s no Santa Claus!!)

Poets United: Ollie, so much fun to sit down with you today! Yay! Robes!!!!!!! Pull back your hood just a little, okay? Tell us, is there a story behind the name of your blog? Humbucker Poems

Old Ollie: When I named my blog, I pictured my poems blasting out my guitar, i.e. directly out of the Humbucker Pick Ups of my electric guitar.

Poets United: Gotcha! Tell us a little about yourself. What part of the world do you live in? And how many monks do you share space with?

Old Ollie: My name is Ollie aka the Tired Monk. The “Old” part is more of an endearment; at least that is how I take it. I am Canadian. I live with, and am married to, the Abbess: Rebekah. Luckily, my order allows marriage. We have three novice monks: Leif, Patrick, and Gunnar (I’m of Swedish and Irish origin).

This is the Tired Monk Family : me, the Abbess, and the three novices. The Abbess insisted that I remove my robes, due to the fact that this was a formal birthday photo. She is as tough as she is beautiful.

Poets United: Ollie, what a beautiful family! Such shining faces.

Old Ollie: Currently we only have one temple dog and one temple cat. We also have two fish that live indoors in the winter and in the garden pond in the summer.

I grew up in a pretty rough factory town. The factories all closed down, and I headed to the big city lights. I struggled through school: dropped out, did upholstery for a bit, met the future abbess, went back to school, earned some degrees in English, Religion and Education. Then I became a high school teacher because I love irony. About five years ago I became a monk…..a tired monk. I’m the first of my kind; a Zen-Benedictine-Beat Poet Monk. The tired part can also be translated as beat.

Poets United: An ironic teacher and a beat-poet-monk. I’m loving it!!!! Only in Canada, eh? So, Ollie, when did you start writing?

Old Ollie: I used to write poetry as a discipline, but really it is just to capture moments. I do remember writing my first poem (not counting the ones I was forced to write as a student). I bought a little note book, propped open a door at work (during a break of course…sic), looked up at some big black anvil clouds, sketched them, then wrote a little poem. That was twelve years ago.

Poets United: Cool. Did you write poems in high school?

Old Ollie: I did not write poems in high school. Just reading books made me weird enough. In first year English class we were asked who our favourite poet was. Back then I thought that was hilarious. What a bunch of nerds…right? Who even knows the name of a poet? Things change.

Poets United: And in such a good way! Have you always written in your current form, or did you used to write other forms of poetry?

Old Ollie: I have only ever written free verse, but the whole tired monk narrative came to me last May. This new focus has worked well for me.

Poets United: And is so enjoyable for us! Is there any style of poem you find unreadable or annoying?

Old Ollie: I prefer to read free verse; I just find it more honest and authentic. I don’t like poetry that is too contrived, but often admire the skill that some poets have, to master certain styles of form poetry.

Poets United: How do you know a poem is good? Do you revise your work, or does it usually come just as we see it on your site?

Old Ollie: I sometimes know that a poem is good. Usually I feel that a poem is good if my images are clear and fresh. I try to do little to no editing… shows, right? I just try to be quick, thus fresh, thus authentic...…I hope. Little events in my life trigger poems. I like to gather those funny little moments that I see, and share them.

Poets United: It really works. We all love your little snippets of Tired Monk wisdom. What is your take on poetry and the internet?

Old Ollie: I enjoy poetry on the internet. There are poets out there that are amazing. I’ll read everything that they write. All these blogs and bloggers allow poetry lovers access to many great poets; just click “follow” on the ones you love. Also, it frees all those poems languishing in ragged notebooks across the globe.

Poets United: So true! I have a battered binder full of them! When do you write the most?

Old Ollie: I usually think of poems on the way into work. It redeems my commute. I sometimes write about things I’ve seen back in the mean streets of my home town, or what I see at work as a teacher at an inner city school. These are my more gritty poems. As a contrast, I live out in the country in a nice swampy forest. Both aspects of my life inspire.

Poets United: That is a nice balance. What poem, written by you, do you like the most, and why?

Old Ollie: Soul Cravings and Work Boot Poets are two of my favourite poems. I had a good response from these. I like them because I hope that everyone can satisfy those all-important Soul Cravings. My friend Dox came up with the term “work boot poet”. I enjoyed building a poem around his idea.

Poets United: Do you have a favourite poet? A favourite poem by them?

Old Ollie: My favourite poets are Jack Kerouac and Gary Snyder. “Pine Tree Tops" by Gary is a great one.

Found Here

Poets United: Great choices! Why do you write, Ollie? Do you write with hopes of being published one day? Is online feedback satisfying enough for you, if you don’t publish?

Old Ollie: If I get published or not doesn’t matter to me. I write for the sake of writing. It helps me to maintain my focus. I like to fill notebooks and blogs… is just fun.

Poets United: I agree! I gather from your poems that you play music: what instruments? And what kind of music do you play the most?

Old Ollie: My favourite type of music is alt-rock and alt-country. I enjoy Ryan Adams, Johnny Cash, Fred Eaglesmith, the Decemberists, Phoenix, Joel Plaskett and many more. I play guitar. I have a Fender Stratocaster, but I play my acoustic more often. I’ve been writing more poems and playing a lot more guitar this past year, than any previous year. I guess you can say that I’m in an artistic upswing.

Poets United: Cool! A Grooving Monk! A Fender is a pretty nice instrument. So, if you could have dinner with any famous person, who would it be? Where, and what would you eat?

Old Ollie: I think it would be fun to have dinner with Chris Jericho. He just seems like a really fun, well travelled, story filled guy. I’d BBQ. We’d play guitar, sing, eat, drink Beau’s Beer, and tell tales. I think the novices would show up for this one.

Poets United: I’ll bet they would! Do you have some favourites in the blogosphere that you like to visit?

Old Ollie: The three bloggers that I visit most are: Juice Box from It Was Late and I was Tired (totally talented youngster), the Dox from Human Paradox (fun fact: he was the best man at my wedding), and the SC from the Square Corner (a great poet, and fun guy to have a beer with). There are a few others that I admire, but these three are tops. JB and SC are fellow members of Poets United; you can visit the Dox via the link on Humbucker Poems.

Poets United: Interesting choices, Ollie. And one of them your best man!!! Hmmmm......I should have asked HIM some questions for this interview:)! When you are not writing, what other interests do you pursue?

Old Ollie: When I’m not writing, I learn or write new songs, draw cartoons, sketch, take photos, Photoshop, make films, and play basketball with the novices. I also seem to drive to a lot of hockey rinks every weekend; like I said…Canadian.

Poets United: Go, Canucks! Have you ever lived a great adventure? (It was so hard for Robb not to put a Penguins logo

Old Ollie: I have lived so many adventures that I opened up a whole blog to recount them: Olsonomics. No adventure will be left untold.

Poets United: All righty then. I’m going there right after this interview! Do you have a dream you hope to make come true?

Old Ollie: I’ve had a few dreams. I used to want to manage an all girls rock band, but I’m over that one. I want to raise up my brood of boys right and true, hang with some temple dogs, wear a hole in my guitar like Willie Nelson, and continue to have a great life with the Abbess.

Poets United: Worthy dreams, all. Ollie, do you have a favourite quote that you use often, or live by?

Old Ollie: The quote that really sums it up for me is

“Be excellent to each other”.
~ Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Poets United: Wonderful, Ollie. You are, indeed, “a pretty good guy”, just like it says on your blog. Keep writing those Tired Monk poems! We love them!

There is much more to a poet than 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, so be sure to come back and see who we chat with next. Who knows? It might be you!

(Yet again we are treated to another wonderful interview conducted by Sherry Blue Sky. If you would like to learn more about Sherry or read some her poetry you can do so by visiting her blog "Stardreaming With Sherry Blue Sky" you can also read other articles and posts by Sherry found here at Poets United by just simply searching 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)


  1. I think this is one of the best interviews I've read thus far at Poets United. I've been a fan of Old Ollie's Humbucker Poems for awhile now. It's nice to get to know the man behind the poems. I dig the kids' names (quite a nice looking family, Ollie!) and was delighted to see Bill & Ted being quoted. Party on, dudes!

  2. A pleasure to read about you Ollie. Well done Sherry.

  3. Well I love this...just love it..learning about Old Ollie, a zen-benedictine...years ago there we benedictine priests that came to the convent and practiced zen....I relate to that, my husband is a Canadian, I can relate to that, hockey I can relate to that ...and Robb - I did not know you were a Penguins fan...I am a Pens fanatic....can not wait for the playoffs.....What a wonderful write up Sherry...and I love Old Ollie poetry....thank you both...bkm

  4. I love this interview, thanks for sharing a bit
    of yourself, Ollie. You have a beautiful family.
    Thanks Ollie and Sherry for a great interview.


  5. Ollie,
    What a wonderful story and it is good to read that the tired monk, is actually not that old!!!!
    Plenty of years to write many more interesting words.
    Great to have met you Ollie, via Poets United.

    Sherry, another wonderful interview as well!
    Best wishes, Eileen

  6. Loved this interview, I really enjoyed learning more about Ollie. :-)

    Well done Sherry, you are good at this!

  7. Oh this one was so much fun and I can tell Robb had a blast setting it up:) Love the video clip, hee hee. Thanks, Ollie, you rock! With or without your Stratocaster:)

  8. The Tired Monk is a fine fellow, indeed. I really enjoy his poems.

  9. Robb this is indeed most excellent! Thanks to you and Sherry for setting it up; it was a really fun experience.

    Thanks for reading fellow poets!

  10. Fabulous interview, Sherry and Old Ollie! So many questions answered...

  11. Nice to meet you Ollie. I like that you went back to teach school, and do play a guitar. I thought that might be true.

    Sherry, you did it again. You make it look so easy and so much fun, but with people like Ollie, I'm sure it is.


  12. This was great learning more about Ollie and his monkdom. Skilled artist interviewing a skilled artist. Nothing like it!

  13. This was a wonderful interview....
    Old Ollie..It was wonderful to know the tired monk and family...
    Sherry have done it beautifully..
    Now we all have started to wait for this segment at Poet's United...this is getting more and more wonderful by each week...
    Thanks Robb for making it up....

  14. What a superb interview! I really enjoyed reading all about you Ollie! And Sherry - you did a marvelous job of it! ☼

  15. What a treat it was to learn more about Old Ollie, who is a true Renaissance man...multi-talented, quirky and ever-curious! I love the down-to-earth approach that lends such immediacy to your work, Ollie, and it's clear that the Abbess and novices are a great source of inspiration. The Old Monk may be tired but he's blessed with much joy...

    And Sherry, you make these interviews seem effortless. While asking the questions that matter, your enthusiasm and ready sense of fun make the answers a pleasure to read. Wonderful and Ollie rocked this one out of the stadium!

  16. You are a most excellent and good old guy Ollie! I just love your blog and the wonderful words that come from it! Look forward to reading more and more in the future! (Sherry wonderful interviewing!) :-)

  17. I loved reading about you and your alter ego,
    The Tired Monk. You are such a vibrant soul and have a beautiful family! Great Job Sherry n'Ollie, and Robb, liked the pics! :-D

    It was fun to read and learn more about you and all your talents! Well Done~

  18. so well done Sherry. it is a pleasure to know Ollie.

  19. The Tired Monk! Lovely! How about a rise in your rank in the order considering that they need some fresh dose of humour, tired or not tired I don't give a hoot. Ha ha ha. The novice monks and the order allowing marriage?! I love this.

  20. Ollie is a favorite of mine. The Tired Monk thing, yes, that is working well. And since I used to live in Buffalo, I felt almost Canadian except for the free health care, but I do LOVE curling.

    So glad to see the family pic and to learn more about your Strat obsessions. And as for starting new, esoteric religions, I'd join that one! Loved the graphics - and Sherry, as usual, you got the best out of your subject.

    Long live the tired monk! Marriage for ALL!!! Amy


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