Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community, specifically editing Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market. He co-founded and maintains the Poetic Asides blog (http://blog.writersdigest.com/poeticasides) and also provides writing tips, recipes and more at his personal blog: My Name Is Not Bob (http://robertleebrewer.blogspot.com). He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their four boys. Sometime in June, they plan on welcoming their first daughter. In 2010, Brewer was voted Poet Laureate of Blogosphere and has been a featured poet at multiple writing events, including most recently the Austin International Poetry Festival. In April 2011, he released a limited edition chapbook of poetry titled ENTER that was sold out before May 2011. He can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Poet on Poetry's Questions for Robert Brewer
1. What inspires you as a poet?
Sometimes I feel like everything inspires me. A word or phrase is just as likely to kick start one of my poems as an image or memory. At Poetic Asides, of course, one of my things is to supply poets with prompts for writing poems, and I’m only able to do that, because I’m always seeing reasons to poem away.
2. What advice do you have for other poets?
Focus on the writing above all else. While it’s important to build a readership eventually, the best way to develop one that sticks around is through the quality of writing. And by focusing on writing, I don’t mean that poets should shut themselves off from the outside world. They should join groups that enable them to share their poetry and get a reaction from an audience. Poets should read classic and contemporary poets—always looking for tricks they can apply to their own writing. Poetry, like other forms of writing, is a craft, and if you work at it long enough and give yourself up to it, your poetry may turn into art.
3. What prompted you to start writing poetry?
The simple answer is that I was trying to woo a girl in high school. That initial round of poeming unlocked a flood of repressed emotion that eventually made me a better, though still imperfect, human being.
4. Where do you see yourself going in the future as a poet?
I’m never sure where I’m going next. My wife Tammy, who’s also a poet, and I have this habit of wandering, getting lost, and then finding ourselves. So that’s what I imagine will continue to happen. I’ll keep wandering, getting lost, and finding myself. Now that I’ve published and sold out of my first chapbook, I’m looking forward to assembling a full-length collection and trying to get that published. So I guess that’s an immediate goal. Outside of that, I’ve already accomplished more than I set out to do in the beginning.
5. What is your favorite poetry journal?
As the editor of Poet’s Market and a poet who’s always submitting his work, it’s probably not the best idea for me to claim a favorite of our hundreds of magazines. But I can name a few that I really enjoy reading: RATTLE, New Ohio Review, Otoliths, OCHO, and Linebreak. There are others I really enjoy and check out often too, but these spring to mind first.
POETRY BY ROBERT BREWER
Solving the world’s problems
I began as eyelashes blocking the sun,
and my father was a digital clock.
In a dark cave, my father counted
out the minutes as I kept myself
from myself. In this way, we learned to kiss.
Years later, when I became a horse,
I ran the hot blood out of my body.
Father turned into a dream filled
with fire and a horrible laugh. I
burned into a cloud of smoke.
Father became a phone call and then
silence. I worried what I might
transform into next. I worried
what I might already be. Then,
I forgave father.
(originally published by OCHO and featured in ENTER)
anywhere we dare go
the copper scent of a summer shower
sends us across our remembered crushes
left hidden in wet grass and creek water.
her skin was soft; his hands were strong; somewhere
a bird cried out as the wind bent branches
that only barely resisted bending.
in the evening, you’ll recall, the stars
fell out of the sky and danced around them
as we only worried about ourselves.
(originally published by MiPOesias)