March 19, 2014

Interview w/ Poet Richard Schnap

1.  When did you start writing poetry and why?
I was raised in a very literate family. My childhood was filled with books of all kinds and I began writing when I think I was in grade school, things like fantastic stories and comic books. In college I studied fiction and poetry as dual majors and produced the first of three self-published collection of poems augmented by collages. My three passions are art, music and writing and over the last three decades I've bounced between the the three at will but eventually settled to a combinations of poetry and collages. I create because it feels natural.

2.  What is your writing process?
One of my primary rules is to write about things I know as intimately as possible: people, places and events although I leave room for pure journeys of my imagination which usually are initially grounded in something I see in the world around me but can take off in any direction, almost as if they start writing themselves.

3.  Which poets throughout time have influenced your writing?     
I actually don't read a lot of poetry. I listen to the lyrics of a large collection of recorded music I own and the only poetry I regularly hear is that from a small weekly writing workshop I'm a part of.

4.  What do you consider your poetic style to be?  
I would say my style is the inherent musical quality of my poems which I've internalized through the hundreds of songs I've written for various musical groups over the years. Also, I place an emphasis on what I call the "architecture" of a poem, also derived from songwriting, where a typical poem of mine is designed in a set number of stanzas and lines with a definite rhythm to them. I have never been a big fan of free verse poetry which is why my poems are constructed in this way. Twenty years ago, though, I did write all my work in free verse.

5.  What topics do you tend to write about?
As I've said, things in the world, people I know or have known, experiences I've had recently from the distant past, anything as long as it's something taken in some way from real life.

6.  What advice would you give to a novice poet?
I believe a writer or any artist must find their own path themselves but some hints I would offer are to notice the world around you and within you, how it looks, sounds, smells, tastes, makes you feel. Experiment, try different things, different voices. Find other writers you like especially and analyze how they do it. This process can take five minutes or five decades, it's different for everyone.

7.  What advice would you offer to someone who is frustrated because his/her work is constantly being rejected by journals he/she submits to?
An outstanding resource I have used to great success is  It can help you identify journals that your work may find good homes in.  Plus, be aware that specific editors may like your work more than others.  I have a dozen or so magazines now I regularly submit to, people who i are what I consider friends, in writing and in life.

8.  What is your ultimate goal as a poet?  Are there any specific awards or prizes you strive for?
I just want to keep writing and hopefully keep getting published. I really don't care about awards or prizes but I wouldn't mind someday to have a book, or books, of my collected work published somehow, perhaps as an ebook for free download. But if I don't it doesn't matter. I have been blessed to have my work displayed on the Internet for billions to see.  That is enough satisfaction for me.

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