Monday, March 2, 2015


I have such a treat for you today, kids! My heart went pitter pat recently when Chris Olson, whom we know fondly as Brother Ollie, the Tired Monk, showed up at the Poetry Pantry, after an absence. Ollie writes at Humbucker Poems, where he describes himself as a poet, trucker, singer and guitar-playing monk. He is very cool!
Ollie is one of Poets United's first members, from 2010, when Robert Lloyd first started the site. In 2012, Ollie announced he was taking a hiatus, and we have missed him. But he has donned his monk's robes and is back with us once again. Yay! I swiftly asked him if he might give us an update, and he said yes. Ollie lives in eastern Canada.

Sherry: Ollie, it has been so wonderful to see you back at Poets United. In 2012, when you announced you were taking a hiatus, did you take a break from writing, for a while, or just from online? (I know online takes up a lot of time and you have a young family.) Bring us up to date, kiddo. What have you been up to? We missed you!
Ollie: Thanks!  It is good to be back.  As a poet I didn’t burn out, I just faded away; thus going against the advice of Neil Young.  I took my monk's robes off.  My monk’s tonsure grew in.  Sure, I flirted with poetry now and then, but I only wrote a few poems last year.  There were many months where I didn’t write anything.  Recently I found my robes, put ‘em back on, and rededicated myself.  Resumed my duties, if you will.  

We also had a baby.  Sometimes one must allow themselves to be blessed.  Children are an amazing blessing.  Now I have three sons and my newest is a daughter.  It is good to be dad.
Sherry: There is no role finer! Congratulations on the baby girl!!!!!! I'll bet you are putty in her hands. And how are the young novices and the fair Abbess?
Ollie: The Abbess is better than ever.  A daughter is a particular joy for her!  We are in a good season!
Sherry: I sleuthed around  your blog and saw that you continued to write, though infrequently, through 2013. And you wrote much less in 2014. What brought you back to writing? Did your Muse insist? Did you miss writing?
Ollie: I came back to writing as I realized the state of neglect of Humbucker Poems.  I decided to do a purge.  I deleted much of my varied social media, and some other distracting elements of my life.  I felt the need to get back to poetry: Leave the tweeting to the birds (Corny Teacher Joke).
Sherry: Yes, if there are choices to be made, do keep writing. We love your poems! Which do you enjoy most, poetry or prose? Or does each have its joys?

Ollie: I really like both.  I write much more poetry, but there is a sister blog : HUMBUCKER TALES. I hope to one day tie all the tales together; thus my first novel.  I’m not sure of the narrative direction I want to take, but If anyone has suggestions, I’ll take them.  
Sherry: I am liking the sound of a book. In 2010, as I recall, you were a teacher. Your recent poems seem to be written by a long-distance truck driver. Have you made a career change? Fill us in on the Tired Monk’s current job, wont you? And, if it does involve long distance driving, tell us how music keeps you company on the road.

Ollie: I do teach (English, Religion, Communications Technology, and Yearbook) but I’m such an introvert. I need to recharge in solitude.  Some days the truck cab is my monk’s cell.  There will be many more tales n’ poems from the road, to be sure.
I still use my click-wheel iPod Classic.  There are thousands of songs to listen to out on the road. I like the break from people, and the chance to sink into some solid tunes.  I compose a lot of poems in my head as I drive.  The music really fuels the Muse as well!
Sherry: I can see the Tired Monk, rockin' out in his truck cab! Are you still making music? Playing any gigs?
Ollie: I always keep a guitar handy.  I still have my Red Strat, and an Epiphone SG, but I’m really all about wearing a hole in my acoustic guitar, like Willie Nelson.   
The only gigs I play are for my kids.  Some of my friends keep making noise about “getting the band back together”...
Sherry: It does not matter the audience - only that you keep playing. Would you like to pick three of your poems to include here? And tell us a bit about each one?

Ollie: This is a short one, but it really sums up my current philosophy.  It is time to burn off the dust.

flick the lighter
 then hot steady flame

light the lamp
burn away the dust

Sherry: I love how poetry waits through the fallow times, then sparks back to life when the time is right!

Ollie: I don’t feel that this is a really strong piece, but it is really my new beginning.  This is when I started to feel that I could, and should, come back to poetry.  

new music
a new song
each sweet verse

travel guitar sits
 a silent passenger

lift my voice
all along
these dark miles

wishing she was here
 near me
on this bench seat

Sherry: I love this one, Ollie.

Ollie: This is one back from the semi-hiatus.  I was not in a good place.  I had withdrawn too much, and from too many things.  Some recharging is good, but I’d gone too far afield: more a recluse, than a brother monk. 


his robes
shaved head
grown in
sacred vows

don't cross
left unsung

in community
no more
yet connected
by poems

Sherry: Ha, I just saw my response to that poem, on your blog,  which said I hoped the tired monk would come back, his community awaits! And here you are! Yay!

Ollie: Thanks for welcoming me back to Poets United.

Sherry: Ollie, is is our pleasure. We are thrilled to have you back!

Wasn't this wonderful, kids? Just like our Muse, the community of poets waits out the times each of us must take, from time to time, when life calls us away. Do come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!!


  1. Hello Ollie! You have a full plate with 4 children and 2 jobs (at least). I'm happy that SHerry introduced you. I like how "One Poet" gets at both the absences and the connections.

  2. Ollie welcome back. Congrats to you - you are a busy man. I do know that no matter how busy we are there needs to be a place for the verse to flow whether on strings of page. Thanks for the update and your inspiring verse.

  3. Hi Ollie,

    Welcome back to the community, I will be sure to check out your poetry.

  4. Good to see you again, Ollie! I always enjoy your short but pointed poems. I wonder if you have ever set any of your poetry to music. I do also have an iPod classic...smiles. Don't see too many of them around any more. Always glad to see you at Poetry Pantry on Sunday!! Sherry, again a nice feature. Thank you both.

  5. Thank you for introducing Ollie to us, Sherry. I had seen his name and read a little of his poetry but knew nothing about him.

  6. It was truly my pleasure, my friends. I have always loved Ollie's poetry. Ollie was one of my first interviews, way back in 2010, when I wanted to know: is he really a monk? is he really tired? does he wear robes. LOL. Ollie, your poetry is unique and your heart is one of the best!

  7. I really enjoy the tired monk's poems and persona — and it is also really good to find out about the man behind them, and his family. Congratulations on the new addition to the household! Many thanks to you both, Sherry and 'Ollie', for this sparkling interview.

  8. It's really a pleasure to see three lovely poems of Brother Ollie and to get to know him a little more here today...Thank you Sherry for introducing Ollie to us...

  9. well i am glad you found your way back...there is a nice meditative quality to your poems that put me in a good place...and who knows, the band may get back together..ha...but i do hope you get that novel written....

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  11. I am a long-time fan of Old Ollie and am glad that he is back in full swing so I may read more of his uniquely wise portrayals of life in the 21st century.

  12. Thanks for continuing to introduce me to fresh poets that I haven’t come across before, Sherry! Nice interview!
    Thanks for your thoughts, Ollie. Glad you are back...:)

  13. So nice to meet you Ollie! Thank you, for sharing about your family, poetry, music and's an honor to have met you and I look forward to reading you and sharing the poetic path. :)

  14. Thank you Sherry! What a delightful post! So glad Ollie has come back to poetry....

  15. Being fairly new here, it is a pleasure to learn more about Ollie. I have enjoyed his poems and this wonderful story Sherry....and thank you Ollie for your visits to my blog and your wonderful feedback! Welcome back!

  16. Very interesting interview, Sherry! Thanks for (re)introducing us to Ollie. Four kids and two wonder you're a TIRED monk...nice to meet a fellow introvert, though. Welcome back :-)

  17. Brother Ollie,

    You have been at Poets United for most of the years since its creation. Always a most excellent participant and a frequent supporter to all other contributers. I am very pleased to know that you have returned after a sabbatical, no doubt detained by The Tired Monk, along the way!! Love your wit and wisdom, found within each poem.
    Happy writing days and lovely to have you back in the fold again!


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