Monday, April 15, 2013

Life of a Poet - Robert Cameron Hazelton

I have an Oldie-Goldie for you today, kids. Not old in years, but long in membership! Bob  Hazelton has been a loyal and faithful participant at Poets United from its very beginnings. He calls himself, and his blog,  an Average Poet, but we beg to differ. For this visit, we are flying cross-country to New York state. As we pull up out front, at Bob's, I hear guitar music, and there's Bob, in his back yard, playing some of his own tunes.


Poets United: Bob, so nice to sit down with you, finally! You must be the soul of patience, waiting so long for an interview! Your last interview, by Robb Lloyd, was in 2010!!!! Will you bring us up to date – where you live, who you share your life with?


Bob: Well, I live in a small town called Amsterdam, located in upstate NY, it's a pretty rural area about 30 miles outside of Albany, the capital. My wife's name is Emma and we have a couple dogs called Milo and Chachi. She has three daughters, who all work at our small breakfast/lunch diner that we own.

Me and Em

Poets United: A family business - the American dream! It's hard work, though, I know. Where did you grow up? 

Bob:  Yes, I was born in Albany, but right before I started school we moved to an old country house situated among the many farms that used to dot the land all around Amsterdam. Many of my friends were from farming families and I knew how to milk a cow before I was seven. The land had apparently been part of a large orchard in the past, and many apple trees survived to share their ruby orbs with us, and also one pear tree. It was truly idyllic and some days I miss it terribly, but life goes on.


P.U.: Was there someone in your childhood who believed in you, encouraged you to dream? 

Bob: As far as belief and support, the main person was my mother. She was a nurse and used to always say I had doctor's hands. She and her mother Abbey and step dad Frank were word wizards, always reading and playing marathon scrabble matches. When I was older and my parents had split, my mom and I would play Boggle for hours - her boggle game is one of the few things I kept from her stuff after she died. I also miss her terribly.

Poets United: Bob, I was very moved by this poem you wrote for your mom:

Happy Mother's Day
Mother, you gave life to me
and taught me how to truly see,
you coaxed compassion's bloom to grow
within the heart you helped me sow.

Mother, words could never say
the pain I felt (through you) that day
and how each waking moment since
I've seen your body thrash and wince.

Mother, you instilled in me
the faith to know that good will be
so on this day my mind can rest
content that you're in heaven, blessed.

Westin, the special grandson 
I'm always writing about

Poets United: That is just so touching, Bob.  I also love the poems you write about your little grandson. It sounds like he really lights up your life, as grandkids tend to do. Just look at the trust in those bright eyes!


You're the son I never had
the sun that keeps me warm
and though I'm not your dad
whenever dark clouds form
I'll be your shield.

There's nothing you can't be
you're so talented and smart
and everyone (like me)
will be swayed by the heart
you cutely wield.

The life I've pursued
wasn't always worthwhile
but my faith is renewed
when blessed by your smile
and I am healed.

Poets United: Beautiful, kiddo. There is nothing like a small child's smile, to restore our spirits and give us hope. Which came first for you – music or writing? Which has, over the years, become your mainstay?  

Bob: I remember the first story I ever wrote was in third grade; it was about the spooky cemetery behind the church we attended. My teacher was amazed and gave me a big A but I really didn't start to write regularly until high school. That was also when I wrote my first songs with my friend Joe. (I didn't play guitar yet). 

After a brief stint in the navy, I finally sat down and learned how to play, and then I wrote a bunch of songs. I even recorded one of mine with the ex-guitar player for Shania Twain. I almost had a chance in NY city years ago, but that's another story. At this point my poetry has been my focus, too many fakes in the music biz for me.

Poets United: Do you still perform your music publicly? 

Bob:  Yes I play in a 3 piece band and we currently have 3 songs I wrote on our song list, which we are planning on recording this year. 

Poets United: That sounds fantastic, Bob! Way to go! I'll bet people love dancing to your tunes.  Do you remember writing your first poem? 

Bob: I believe it was a poem for my mom on mother's day, man was it cheesy, but of course she praised it lavishly.

Poets United: Of course she would treasure it! Judging from the one above, they improved, too, over the years! What is it about poetry that you love, that keeps you writing it? 

Bob:  I'm not altogether sure except, when I read certain things, I get chills and goose bumps rise on my skin. I haven't missed a post in almost two years and some days I want to just be done with it, but then something pops in my brain and I'm compelled to record it. It's like a disease for which there's no cure.

Poets United: But a good disease, that makes us happy, right? Do you have a poem you are especially happy with, that you would like to include? 

Bob:  I wrote this about two months ago and sent it out for a contest which I probably won’t win; it’s never been posted anywhere, so consider it a PU exclusive, if you will. I feel it’s one of my better poems, but ultimately it’s not up to me.


The wind has stripped another leaf
another moment much too brief
another day, another year
that seemed to simply disappear
devoid of grief,
or wins to cheer.

The world has whirled another inch
and no one even thought to flinch,
concerned instead with time to kill
it feels as though we're standing still,
another clinch
that drains our will.

The sun has burned more precious fuel
for all of us the flame is cruel
reducing everything to ash—
regardless whether bland or brash
we're doomed to duel
a constant clash.

The sea has an alluring reach,
unfathomed lessons yet to teach
just listen to the salty spray,
and though your passing footprints stay
upon the beach,
they'll wash away.

Poets United: Wow, Bob. You drove your message home so powerfully. "...they'll wash away...." Very sobering, and so well expressed. Thanks for the exclusive! 

You describe yourself as a technician in the manufacturing industry.  I read your recent poem called “Routine”: “incompetence has become the norm, as I just smile and dumbly perform”.  'Nuff said about your job? It pays the bills? 

Bob:  Yes, that's about it, though they just announced the company is for sale so who knows what the future holds.

P.U.: What would your dream job or dream life be?  

Bob: To be a writer/performer would be awesome, though I have no delusions about fame, I would just like to make a decent living off my own creations.

P.U.: I can't think of a more fulfilling life than making music and writing poems! What is the wildest thing you ever did? 

Bob: The year I graduated high school we had a party at the lake. Some girls from a nearby camp recruited a friend and me to ride in their boat. They promised us a fun evening if we were willing to swim back because they couldn't have the boat out after dark. Made brave by beer and lustful youth (or was it youthful lust?) we both agreed and were indeed glad we did ('nuff said). When it came time to swim back across the bay we decided it would be better to swim nude so our clothes wouldn't get wet. The girls gave us plastic bags to put our clothes in and we were off. 

google image

There was a long dock that extended halfway across the water we had to cross, so we figured we'd run down the dock and dive in, after all it was very dark. Well as soon as our feet touched the wood a motion sensor flooded the whole dock with light -YIKES! - We both streaked down that dock laughing like maniacs, jumped in the water and swam back to the party. And wouldn’t you know it, someone at the party heard a noise and shone a flashlight on us before we could get dressed, talk about double exposure, plus our clothes were soaked despite the bags, but all I can say is – totally worth it!

P.U.: I can totally see it! (Smiles.) Has there been someone in your life you feel has had a significant influence on your poetry? 

Bob: I was part of a small group years ago called Planet Poetry and two people called Michelle and Michael really opened my eyes to the craft of writing, not to mention the different ways you can look at things. Through their influence and copious amounts of reading poetry, I started to get it and now it’s an affliction, as mentioned above.

P.U.: Do you write prose as well as poetry? Which genre do you favor? 

Bob: Mostly rhyming, structured poetry, but I have done some free verse and prose which are posted in my archives, plus some pencil sketches here and there (mostly comic book characters).

P.U.: Are you happy with how your poetry has grown the last few years? How has blogging impacted your writing? 

Bob: I would have to say yes I am very happy with it, I sometimes scroll back through the pages and say – when the hell did I write that, or where did that come from? It’s funny, once you get in that mode of looking at everything as a potential line, it’s hard to just shut it off.

Blogging has helped a lot because it has introduced me to so many people that wouldn’t have read me before and it has enabled me to sharpen my skills through practice. One thing I encourage readers of my blog to do is type in their favorite word in the search box at the top left – you never know what may pop up ;-)

P.U.: You have been blogging since 2005, and a member of Poets United since its very beginning in 2010. Has being a member of PU (and your other  group, the Blogsboro Poetry Club) had an effect on your writing? Anything you wish to tell us? 

Bob: Group things are great for the support and some of the awesome writings other people post which, in my case, often inspires me to write something of my own.  I would like to formally thank all the administrators at PU for always supporting fellow writers, and for giving us a place to share and get precious feedback.

P.U.: Thanks, kiddo. We appreciate your kind words. This community is what it is because of every single member, like you, who keeps coming back and posting and participating. It was great visiting with you today, Bob. 

There you have it, kids, the life of a poet, a solitary pilgrim on the path who, in reaching out to connect with other poets, enriches life for us all. Come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. Sherry, another food choice of interviewee. Bob, nice to get to know more about you. Love the idea of having a family diner. Sounds kind of idyllic to me in this day and age. How cool that you sing in a band and are going to record your music this year. Writing poetry seems to go well with writing song lyrics. How nice that you think of your mom as such a strong support; and that little grandson really is a cutie!!

  2. Sherry and Bob,

    What a lovely surprise to find my good friend Bob featured today. He was about the first friend I made, here in this big Blogosphere back in 2009 when I first started writing. Bob was an encouraging voice with my first poems and had remained a very faithful friend ever since.
    I have always admired his honesty and sincerity, contained in his words, as well as ability to amuse!!
    I knew of his great loss when he lost his dear mother, which is expressed at times in his writing.
    Thank you Sherry for giving new members of Poets United, an opportunity to meet Bob, who has been a great friend and supporter to the rest of the Community for many years.
    A most worthy member interview.

  3. Easily one of my favorite poets. Mindful of word choice and sound and pacing. I always enjoy his varied rhyme schemes.

  4. D'oh, hit "Publish" too soon. I want to add that RCH really stands out among poets today, due to his high level of craft and focus on rhythm. A truly talented writer, for sure.

  5. Thanks so much Sherry for interviewing me, it was fun! And thanks for the wonderful comments from Mary, Eileen and Jak. I've been a little busy lately but hopefully things will calm down soon. You guys are awesome!

  6. Nice to see the Average Poet showcased here! Bob is a great guy and gentle spirit~ I love many of his poems and the ones you shared today are very moving! RCH is a class act! It is nice to get to know him better :D

  7. Thank you for the lovely interview Sherry ~

    It is a pleasure to get to know Bob and his journey to poetry writing ~

    All the best ~


  8. Well I'm new to P.U. but when I read the interview I was excited to find out that you lived so close to me. (I'm in Northville and often go to Amsterdam.)Now I'm going to keep my eyes open for your family diner and look for your band performances.
    Oh and I really liked Tides!

  9. Good to know a wonderful poet though he chooses to call him average. I have read a few of Bob's poems before and glad to have got to know him better here. Thank you Sherry!

  10. Another lovely interview. And I agree - far from average!


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