What prompted you to begin writing poetry?
Being in love. I was in the Marine Corps and she was 1500 miles away so we exchanged innumerable letters, long letters and I found myself expressing my feelings in more, let us say, flowery ways. I’m sure the poems then weren’t really any good but I was getting my feelings across and that was the idea. I think something similar prompts many people to start writing poems—and some of us don’t have the sense to stop.
You have traveled all over the world and continue to travel around US. How does it affect your writing?
That is a difficult question. There are still many places in the world I have never been to, of course. I think the thing that travel does is expand one’s ideas about what is the norm. I have lived in jungles with only a hammock for a bed and flown in jets to some of the most highly populated cities in the world. Each culture and the people in it are different. I guess that having experienced a broad range of differences in real life opens me up to a broader range of language use and meaning that presumably percolates down into my poetry sometimes. Each language has it’s own rhythms and even if I don’t know the language, if I am immersed in a culture those patterns are automatically incorporated into my language producing engines and sooner or later appear, usually well incorporated into my poetry.
What does it mean to you to be a poet?
It is one of many labels that I might apply to myself if I were to try to define who it is I have been during my life. It would certainly be one of the more gratifying descriptions I might wish my memory to be associated with. But I am proud of the work that I have done in the field of archaeology, specifically rock art also.
As a poet it means that I have a degree of ability to communicate with language that is more advanced than most folks who are not called poets. Some would call poetry art and if one agrees with that then it means I am an artist.
I guess at the base it means that I enjoy playing with language much like others might enjoy a sport with a ball for instance. It is a pastime that pleasures me; and it pleasures me most when I have done it well. If I communicate what I intended to with my words then I have succeeded.
Do you have any parting words for budding writers or any words of wisdom to share?
Anyone can profess to be a poet or a writer. The thing that separates the real ones from the rest is that they write. Write, write, write and then write some more. That and study the craft. It is a craft and many have practiced it before, seek to learn from them. To not do so deprives the poet of a huge arsenal of useful tools that may be employed. Sure, there may be a select few who really do not need education in order to write decent poetry, but they are few and far between. At least that has been my experience. Reading and listening to other poets is something I include in that process of learning. Take note of what you like. Few find their own voice over night; some never do but if you don’t keep writing it is guaranteed you never will. Remember too that there is not an editor who is going to come around and ask if you have a box of poetry under the bed that you would like to share. So share it at every chance you get in as many ways as you can. Have faith that simply by doing and doing and doing, your work will improve. And with any luck, some day you will be writing poetry in a manner that matches the voice you hear in your head–your voice. And then you can get busy and write some more poetry.
You have lived a very unique life, a life really individual and fearless.
True that. Though there are times I’ve been scared shitless! I have always chosen my own path. Like I have often said, there is the right way and the wrong way and then there is the Micnhimer way–that’s the one I can not help but follow. By doing that one comes to accept the entire responsibility for the out come. Accepting that responsibility gives me the freedom to be who I want to be and who I am.
D. Russel Micnhimer has been writing poetry for forty five years while working at a variety of jobs and traveling through much of the world pursuing his interests in the archaeology of ancient civilizations and rock art they have left behind. He is author of several books on rock art, fiction and poetry including his latest collection Notes to Be Left with the Gatekeeper published by Global Fraternity of Poets for which he was recently bestowed the honor of Poet Laureate by The Poetry Society of India. His collection of ghazals, Lotus Mirage and another collection of his early poems are due later this year. He holds a degree in English from the University of Oregon on the west coast of the United States.
Nalini Priyadarshni is a poet, writer, editor and amateur photographer. Her work has appeared at Up the Staircase Weekly, eFiction India, Mad Swirl, Crescent Magazine, The Riveter Review, Writes & Lovers Café,The Gambler, Camel Saloon, Earl of Plaid,CUIB-NEST-NIDO, and The Open Road Review besides numerous anthologies including I Am Woman, Awakening of She, Art of Being Human etc. Her forthcoming publications include Maelstrom Journal, Undertow Tanka, 52 Loves and Phoenix Photo and Fiction. She lives in India with her husband and two feisty kids.