January 22, 2013

Interview w/ Poet Donal Mahoney




1.      Who or what inspired you to write poetry? 

My parents were Irish immigrants. Words flew around the house at times like butterflies; other times like missiles. Most fathers in that immigrant neighborhood, if asked by a child if they were going to the zoo on Sunday, might answer yes or no. My father always said "perhaps" to any question like that. I think that may be the first time he sent me to the dictionary.

2.      Do you have a favorite place to write?

When I was starting writing, prior to computers. I'd jot down phrases that came into my mind on scraps of paper and I'd stuff the scraps into my suit coat pocket. I had to wear a suit to work, even though I have a blue-collar mentality. When I'd get enough scraps, I'd type them out one each to a sheet. I'd come back to those sheets and keep adding until I had a first draft. Then, I'd revise each draft a zillion times and go through all kinds of corrasable (sp?) bond typing paper. Before that product came out, I was a big buyer of White Out. Now I just sit behind a Macintosh computer and mumble at the screen. 

3.      Who are your favorite poets, alive or deceased?

When I was young, James Wright knocked me over with his "Lying in a Hammock on William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota." The last line floored me and I was hooked. Here's the poem: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177229 

In the late '60s and early '70s, when I still lived in Chicago, I began submitting to "small magazines" in Ireland. There I encountered another young writer named Seamus Heaney. Even then I knew he was light years better than the rest of us. When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, i was tempted to start drinking again. The man lays down words like a German bricklayer, nothing misaligned. 

4.      What five words best sum up your personality?

I hate to list some of these but they're probably true: excitable, competitive, intuitive, obsessive and empathic.

5.      Other than writing, what else do you love to do?

Five years ago I returned to the Roman Catholic Church after a 40-year hiatus. Though I was never "holy," theology and philosophy have always fascinated me. Even during the years I was misbehaving, I always believed in God. Faith is a gift, of course, and for some reason God let me keep it till I wandered back home. My theme song is "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!" 

6.      What are your current, and/or next projects?

I have probably 400 poems or more that one day I'd like to see appear in chapbooks or a big book. And I may try to get around to that if I ever stop writing. My wife earned her living for long time as a professional photographer. I might give each poem to her and have her match it with a photo. That combination appears online a lot but I don't know if books have started to do it. Could be interesting but it sounds like work. Since I worked as an editor most of my life, I try now to avoid work. Writing isn't work

7.      Where can we reach you?

My email address is donalmahoney@charter.net.

Thanks for inviting me to do this interview. 

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