Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Life of a Poet - John G. Evans

Kids, today we are zipping down to Texas, to visit with John G. Evans, of The Poetry Bungalow. John is one of those fellows who is always kind, pleasant and genuine. He makes a wonderfully positive contribution on-line, and I'm so stoked he agreed to sit down with us today. I am posting this a little early (my time) because for many of you, it is already Wednesday. 

Poets United: John, so wonderful to meet you! Would you like to tell us a little about your family, and what part of the world you live in?

John: My lovely wife Judith and I live in the US; Texas to be exact. I have lived here for over 40 years, now; my wife and I have been married for almost 3 years; thus, she has only lived in this state for a little over 3 years. I have lived all over the US growing up as a small boy, but this is where we settled. I also lived in Germany as a small child, which is where I have the fondest memories.

Poets United: So interesting! When did you first begin to write, John? What was it that moved you to pick up your pen and write that first poem?

John: This is an excellent question. I have always had a desire to write since a teen in High School. However, it was not until 1998 I became serious about writing. I have faced much trauma in my early years and for over 40 years (of wandering within the interior desert of my parched soul), in 1998 the story finally had to be told. This is when I began to write seriously, and when I began to write poetry.

I was working on an article that seriously plagued me. I wrote feverishly trying to get the story out.  Even into the early hours of the morning I wrote. I would be awakened at night with what was on my mind and felt powerfully as if this story had to be shared.

Subsequently, this was when and where my poetry evolved. Waking in the middle of the night with soul-felt prompts in relationship to the story I was writing. It was very powerful. The soul-felt prompts were images of my trauma; but the interesting factor is that the prompts rhymed in many instances. Thus, I wrote two pieces of poetry I always felt I would not ever be able to write. I believe this to be a gift.

Poets United: Definitely a gift. What do you love about poetry?

John: Poetry always has a sense of empowerment. This fascinating genre of writing perpetuates us to dig deeper into ourselves. The “power of the pen,” consummated with the ideological truth from Thomas Paine that, “An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot,” allows us to dig ever more so, deeper into our selves, hereby discovering answers one may not have discovered otherwise.

The power of poetry lies within the very epicenter of who we are as creative and expressive individuals. The magnanimous and often times enigmatic experiences of our hearts and souls express a story or feelings somewhere. In many cases it becomes a manner in which we may heal from let’s say a trauma, or series of trauma. Excellent therapy but only when the individual is ready to face it. I finally did, and all I can say is, life on the other side is lovely. The challenges are still there, but the blessings are as real as they get...Thankfully!

Poets United: Sounds like you have made a heroic journey, John.

John: There is a book of beautiful poetry I read entitled, “Women in Praise of the Sacred,” written by scores of women, mystics at that, and edited by Jane Hirshfield. This book held within its beautiful pages 43 Centuries of spiritual poetry by women. From this point on I was hooked to write not only of spiritual matters, but mystical as well.

I have taken the darkness that enveloped my soul for so many years and have written about it in most of my work. This 40 year walk of pain and shame forced me to view man from a cynical and distrustfully pessimistic point of view. Yet, in going through this terrible fire, I was totally freed by the grace of God at some point. Yet, arriving at my Omega Point have thus been able to witness for God, the beauty of grace and the blessings that await us (even here on earth), on the other side. Very simply put, beautiful!

Poets United: Beautiful, indeed. Good for you for making it through, John. Is there a style of poetry that especially appeals to you? 

John: I love poetry that you must dig a bit deeper into the metaphorical, mystical, and supernatural essence of poetry and within ourselves.  Try to discover, just exactly what is it that prompted the poet to write his/her piece. In a sense, it can be quite liberating.

So, I have discovered when writing this type of poetry, the poem just kind of evolves into its own imagery of sorts, a metaphorical substance of soul, beauty from the heart, sadness, joy, peace or bitterness, it just simply evolves. Poetry is a language all in its own right and well worth trying to understand. So many stories to be told, so many souls desiring to be set free, and I believe poetry induces that freedom from the soul.

Poets United: On The Poetry Bungalow, you say you are a contributor to Among the Streets,Thickets and Thorns – are both of these your sites?

John: Yes, I have authored both sites. They are my passion, and therefore I work at nourishing this passionate endeavour every day and night.

Poets United: You also say you are “beginning life anew”. Is there a story behind this statement? It is quite wonderful to begin anew. 

John: Yes Sherry, there is a story here, a story that at this present time am not desiring to indulge myself in as much of the early trauma I faced. It was very bad trauma, but the story has turned out to be much   better than I had anticipated. The trauma was obsessive, painful, and cast me into a shadow of deep, dark depression that lasted for nearly the length of time mentioned.  40 years of traveling within this darkness. Perhaps at a later time I may indulge more. Let us just simply count our blessings and be happy and content with that which God has provided.  

Poets United: Well put, John. It must feel great out in the sunshine these days! I am so happy for you. I've "begun anew"  many times myself. When you are not writing, what other interests might we find you pursuing?

[One of John's beautiful photos]

John: I love photography, digital art, and like to take a poetic photo-journalistic view on life in general.

Poets United: You take some beautiful photos, John. You mention an interest in travel. What is the best trip you ever took, and what made it the best?

John: I took a trip to Maine and sailed off the islands there. Weather was nice and cool, great sailing, and simply put, I enjoyed it so very much. As a youth I desired to have a sailboat and travel around the globe. Never lived out that dream, but did as much as possible in the week in Maine. A beautiful trip it was, the people were great, food, and I spent my first time on an island enjoying my first ever lobster bake. Fantastic time and the way we were supposed to live. It was great.

[Maine-image from google]

Poets United: It sounds wonderful! Do you have a Bucket List? If you could go anywhere in the world, where would that be?

[image from google]

John: Paris, France; the city of poets and artists. I believe I truly would not mind retiring in Paris. Writing my poetry and taking photography shoots of this beautiful region. I also enjoy the Pacific Northwest...have had an inkling to settle  near  Seattle, or potentially Vancouver.  Canada is nice and I have thought of making this a new start, as well.

Poets United: I can vouch for Seattle - the Pacific Northwest is beautiful. Quite similar to us just over the border:) Do you have a favorite poet? What do you love about his or her work?

John: Yes I do. Nelly Sachs is my favorite poet. She speaks the truth in her poetry, of the darkness of mankind, and liberates the spirit by showing us a glimpse into the divine. My absolute favorite of Sachs is, “How long have we forgotten how to listen!” I love the last few lines of this piece of literary genius which goes: 

“Press, oh press in the day of destruction
The listening ear to the earth,
And you will hear, through your sleep
You will hear,
How in death
Life begins.”

Simply amazing words!

Poets United: Wow, amazing indeed. Have you written a poem that you feel describes you?  Would you like to share it with us?

John: I have written a piece that clearly describes mankind in what I feel is all of his egotistical self...this was I believe my last piece it is entitled: 

“Dead Man Walking”

It’s not the man I dislike but the arrogance,
A slurred ego –
A higher sense of self…
Esteem worth dying for;
A contentious smile at smugness –
Conceit, haughtiness, complacency…
An earnest lack of self respect;
Gratification to defeat, who?
A kneeling man –
A man of reconciliation…
A squaring off with resolution;
A man desiring only appeasement –
A man of authenticity…
For gentleness or kindness;
Self-less surrender,
Valor and courage –
Where do they stand?
Behind brilliance or humility –
Genius or peace…
Uproar or silence;
At which cross-roads do you stand?
Are you the king of scheme, or of philosophy?
Are you the frightened intimidator?
Do you browbeat Truth?
Do you harass the oppressed?
Are you the tyrant who persecutes?
Or are you the crowned ruffian,
The one who makes the law –
I could say, as you go, therefore…
Go in peace;
Would it do any good?
Would it make a difference?
Would Truth prevail?
Are you willing to barter?
Only the dead man walking will tell you…

Poets United: A wonderful poem, John. Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you and your writing?

John: My lovely wife Judith has been the biggest inspiration to me. She as well is a writer/poet, and we continuously share our work, and critique and give positive feedback to each other. She is a master poet herself and not only is she the love of my life, but she clearly has helped me to advance in terms of the trauma I have faced. Judith means so very much to me!! I love her dearly.

Poets United: I love how you always say "my lovely wife Judith!" So sweet! Are you happy with where your writing has taken you?

John: I am happy as to where I have evolved through my writing, yes, and sharing with others is the greatest asset I feel any of us have as poets/writers;   but, I  always hope to publish a volume of poetry, a chapbook maybe....I suppose we will have to wait and see.

Poets United: Go for it, John!  What are your dreams and goals for the years ahead?

John: My dreams are simple. Live where I am most happy. The chance of course to spend eternity with my lovely Judith;  and write about our adventures together. This would be nice. Embracing life as a peace advocate, yes!

Poets United: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Poets United?

stay true to yourself

John: Just stay true to yourself, your craft, and always and poetry (even though we stumble and make mistakes with our work), always has a manner in which it may resurrect itself, despite the blemishes and fragments of faults; always stay creative and you will live a beautiful life, prospering in spirit and in truth.

Poets United: Lovely, John. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. See you online!

One more story of a gentle poet making his way, fellow pilgrims. Isn't it true that the people behind the pen are some of the most interesting folks around? Come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Thanks very kindly Sherry and Poets United! It was wonderful to share with you all on-line at our beloved site, Poets United; The Life of a Poet...and I thank you very kindly for such a privileged walk with you all! Blessings of Peace...

  2. First time i visiting this site and am really glad.Thanks for hosting. sell my house

  3. Another great interview,Sherry. You always find a way to bring out the best, the illuminated, in your interviewees.
    John~ I would have know your poetry was the result of great personal evolution without your telling that truth. Depth and perception of the ilk in your writing come only through experience, lessons learned, growth. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. @ Kim Nelson; yes thank you Kim, experience is a great teacher and when put to the poetic written word creates for us not only a particular lifestyle but that of which others may benefit as well, which is the reason I write. It gives us a sense of empowerment and growth as you have mentioned. I really appreciate your chance you all have blessed me with. I truly hope lives are changed for the better upon reading my work. Blessings!

  5. Sherry- you are a lovely interviewer.

    John- I recently visited your blog and am now following. This interview confirms your love of poetry and also that you are truly a really nice guy. So glad that your life has transformed from the effects of trauma to the benefits of living a life poetic.

  6. Myrna-Thank you very much Myrna and thanks for the continued visits to my blog. Trauma and certain kinds of trauma are really very terrible; especially when you are young. I can not say that I did not have to seek help because I did and this effort has had a tremendous effect.

    I do love poetry as I feel this was the beginning to my healing. Very beneficial not only to tell the story but to share your love of the written word, as well.

    I really do thank you Myrna for having liked and/or loved my work. Truly, it means so much to me.

    And yes! Sherry is great, too. I thank you all.

  7. Sherry and John,

    A very interesting Interview, with a very sincere poet.
    John's experiences and his poetry roots, should give great encouragement to others.


  8. I always think the same thing, when someone shares his honest heart with us - that we never know who, out there, may be reading these words and hearing EXACTLY what they need to, to help them. Thank you, John, for your generosity in sharing your story with us, and also for inspiring us all with hope through your poetry and the journey you have made.

  9. Hi Eileen! Thanks so much for encouraging words from yourself! I do honestly hope there will be comfort for any poet who hears these words. The language of love defies all barriers, borders and troubles.
    I know poetry has been the Great Escape for many of us and I feel as long as it is produced honestly, there remains Great Miracles for those of those of whom may be hurting. I thank you Eileen and I thank you Sherry for such a great opportunity to be of value to our beloved reading audience. Thank You!

  10. I just wanted to thank you, Sherry, for posting this interview and for highlighting John's beautiful poetry. John, you continue to inspire me! Thank you all for sharing this day with John, and for all of your wonderful comments!

  11. Thank You Sweetheart! You have always inspired me as well! Thanks to Sherry and all who visited today. A wonderful day it has been. Best wishes to all Poets United Poets and Stay Creative!!

  12. Wonderful interview! You both did a fantastic job~ John I am from Maine. I am happy you enjoyed it! I too want to go to Paris. I think all of us want to see the birth place of so many creative resources~
    Canada is amazing; I hope you and your lovely wife have an long, beautiful journey! I am happy you fought darkness and found light! What a gift it is and when you are ready I know you will share~ Thanks for sharing your story! ATB

  13. John and Sherry,

    Coming to this interview on the down side of the day, but that does not lessen my appreciation of it. John, I had never read your poetry before, but will now. Sherry, thanks for introducing such fine poets to the community.

  14. Ella...I must thank you for such a wonderful comment! Maine was beautiful and my wife and I did have Maine on our radar as one of the places to live. Canada as well. Beautiful country. The story bof my darkness is being told more and more and I thank you for such refining commentary...very kind of you.

  15. Mary...I am glad you could make it here today!! What a nice surprise. Thanks so much for such a wonderful comment. Sherry is great, is she not? Thanks for everyones kindness and encouragement. It was an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

  16. Thanks Sherry. for introducing me to another fascinating poet ... nice to meet you John; I wasn't familiar with your work so visited your website and found myself lingering over quite a few poems, many of which I find quite literally beautiful but haunting. I am glad you have found an outlet in poetry for whatever devastation you've suffered. The rest of us are the richer for it ... wishing you peace.

  17. S.E. Ingraham...thanks very much for your lovely comment. It is nice to have met yourself as well. Thank you kindly for your heartfelt peace offering. I am so much better now than ever but it has been a process. Investigate if you will MST and RTS and this will open the doors to the devastation I once faced as a young boy. I am ready to face my giants and have hurdled these monsters so many times before.

    I do not wish to keep you beautiful people in suspense but perhaps its time to unveil the truth behind my misery. Poetry has certainly been that beautiful outlet that helps me to discover the strength we all have inside to face that which scares us.

    I am extremely delighted with all the good folks at Poets United who have been so supportive. Blessings for each and every one of you! I have found peace!


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