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
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 written....here 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;
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 remember...art 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!