April 10, 2014

Interview w/ Poet Michael Keshigian

1.  When did you start writing poetry and why?
You could say that I transitioned into poetry from music.  I've been a performing musician and educator for most of my life with undergraduate and post graduate degrees in performance and musicology.  The close relationship of both disciplines attracted my  attention to the written word, especially poetry, where musical characteristics are most prevalent.  It seemed natural therefore, to utilize rhythmic and melodic concepts within the concise and articulate format of poetry. That's been going on now for about 20 years, providing another gratifying creative outlet.

2.  What is your writing process?
The writing process begins with an appreciation for those poets and writers who have contributed to the growth of the genre.  I tend to do much reading, which I believe fosters a solid foundation for the creative process.  Beyond that, I tend to write about events with which I am familiar, personal experiences and interactions with interesting people.  That being said, I rarely carry a full blown idea with me to the keyboard, but rather plant a seed on the screen and work on it until it blossoms into something that is satisfying.  Although it is cliche, the words seemingly have a tendency to write themselves.

3.  Which poets throughout time have influenced your writing?
It is difficult to name one or two poets as leading influences.  Usually I move from one poet to another and discover that poet's idiosyncrasy and the uniqueness he/she brings to the discipline.  With that appreciation come a synthesis of styles and influences that allows me to trickle out my own expression.

4.  What do you consider your poetic style to be?  Most of my writing is free verse though my earliest attempts were in more traditional forms.  I've also dabbled with haiku and other fixed line forms.

5.  What topics do you tend to write about?Almost anything can trigger an internal urge to write a poem, any single, momentary experience to a monumental event that has touched the lives of many.

6.  What advice would you give to a novice poet?
The process begins with becoming aware of oneself; tendencies, idiosyncrasies that are salient characteristics that offer you your perspective of life and the world.  Take that perspective and foster its growth on the written page.  But it is not all about inspiration.  Read and learn from those who have developed the technique to become successful.  Synthesize your imagination with familiarity and the technical ability to deliver your message.

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?
Identify the problem.  It might be as simple as finding the proper venue for your efforts.  If constructive criticism is offered, re-evaluate your delivery without sacrificing your intent.  There is an editor out there who will like your subject matter if you know of what you write and your technique sells the product.  Above all, be persistent.  Most times, it really does boil down to a matter of taste.

8.  What is your ultimate goal as a poet?  Are there any specific awards or prizes you strive for?
Just to keep on writing with the hope that those who read my efforts take a piece of my insight with them. An ah ha moment, if you will.  Awards and prizes can be satisfying by-products, but the ultimate goal is to get your message out and your perspective acknowledged, which essentially translates into continued publication.

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