Poet of the Week: Robert Brewer

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 ( and also provides writing tips, recipes and more at his personal blog: My Name Is Not Bob ( 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

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.


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)


This is War!

In honor of Memorial Day, this is the closest thing I have to offer-my  sacrifice in marrying a military man!  This is a chapter from a book I started about my life with my late husband and childhood sweetheart, Jimmy Rabe.  This chapter is about learning where he was going to be stationed after he got out of boot camp and school in the Navy. He was stationed for four years (1974-1977) at the Fleet Intelligence Center of the Pacific (FICPAC). He joined the Navy to avoid the draft during Viet Nam and he got four years in Hawaii!  We were blessed!  Hope you enjoy!
                                       Jimmy Ray Rabe 1952-1997
                                        Forever Young
Chapter 6

 This is War!

"Alaska or Hawaii!" Jimmy explained.  He couldn't believe it but because the war was ending and he had enlisted he was going to be spending his first tour of duty in either Hawaii or Alaska, not Viet Nam!  "When will you know?"  I asked.  Jimmy said there was no way of telling but no one got Hawaii on a first tour of duty during wartime, unless you had connections.  I understood.  He had no connections. I had no connections. We were going to Alaska. 

I was working part-time at a local department store modeling and selling lingerie.  I started buying coats and sweaters on sale with my store discount.  I knew we would need plenty of warm things for the weather in Alaska.  We were not used to that much cold weather living in Texas.  I used whatever money I had plus the money Jimmy sent me to buy blankets, coats, and sweaters.  At least we would be well prepared and wouldn’t freeze to death. I was proud of my little treasure chest of warm woolen necessities to start our life together.  Before I knew it the shower arrived and we received even more wonderful presents to help us start our new life together. 

"You are not going to believe this babe!  We are going to Hawaii!" Jimmy proudly announced calling from San Diego.  "Babe----are you there? Can ya believe it? We're going to Hawaii!  What's the matter, you don't seem very excited?" 

"Honey, you're not going to believe this."  I meekly replied.  "You know all the money you've been sending me? Well, I've been stocking up on blankets, socks, sweaters and coats for you and me for Alaska!  I just thought we would never get Hawaii like you said.  I am so sorry." Jimmy laughed, "It's only money honey." 

Then the idea hit, we were going to live in Hawaii.  We were going to be Hawaiians!  "Oh Jimmy, we could get married in the Islands instead of here."  "That's a great idea sweetheart." Jimmy replied. Jimmy said he would check it all out as soon as he arrived in Hawaii and we could plan a Hawaiian wedding. 

Then the second thought hit me.  I was prepared to stand by as a noble loyal wife of a man fighting his country in the jungles of Viet Nam, but expecting me to stand by a man who was going to be enjoying the beautiful babes in Hawaii on the beach was way beyond the call of duty.  There is only so much any woman should be expected to do for her country.    And, Hawaii was too far away for even occasional visits.  We could not wait as long as we planned, we would have to move the wedding date!  

This was war!  I knew those sweet little Hawaiian girls would not be able to resist my sharp dressed man and I needed to get over there as fast as possible!  Jimmy needed me!  I prepared for battle by putting on my skimpiest bathing suit and marching out on the patio to get some sun, so that I wouldn't look so Texan when I arrived and had to fight off all of those bronze beauties.   

I would get the tan of my life before I left and leave those Hawaiian babes in my tracks.  I heard the bugle call, it was time for serious action! I grabbed my Coppertone, my sunglasses and steadied myself for war as I turned my head toward the sun!
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