This Monday, I’d like to introduce a wonderful poet. Jim Lewis. He’s not only a poet, he is an artist, a musician, and he uses a camera like no one else with his breathtaking photography. After being introduced to e.e. cummings in high school, he decided using upper case was for sissies, and he never outgrew it. He loves his huge family, with more grandkids than I can count, and he has a deep appreciation for the outdoors. When he’s not creating great poetry and music, you can more than likely find him hiking, kayaking, or traveling to great destinations.
Please allow me to introduce, j. lewis.
I’m so happy you’re here! Let’s get right to the questions. How long on average does it take you to write a poem?
JL: The answer to this question usually gets me in trouble. I am a “quick writer” and usually have a poem done in less than 30 minutes, including several revisions. At that point, I tend to think it’s finished. I’m learning to take input from more accomplished poets, and several of my favorite poems have been revised to make them stronger. I know other poets who may work on a poem for a month or more to make it “just right.” I can’t do that. It’s rare that I leave a poem unfinished to work on “another time.”
What are you currently working on and what is it about?
JL: Over the past year, I have had the privilege to read some response poetry that really appealed to me. An example is a series of poems by the French poet Carmen Bernos De Gasztold, who wrote “Prayers from the Ark”, from the perspective of the animals. That prompted a series of poems by Temple Cone called “The Waters Beyond the Ark,” which prompted “Answering the Cuttlefish” by Laura Kaminski.
This is a wonderful poetic conversation that I decided to join by writing “In the Shadow of the Ark”, which recounts in poetic form, the preparations before the Flood. Having completed (I think) that series, I decided to see what else in the Bible would be fun to address. That produced “The Plagues,” a series of poems about the 10 plagues of Egypt, but from the perspective of the plagues themselves.
Here and there, other poems based on biblical stories have come to me, and I am now looking at adding additional poems and getting them published as a collection. One of the most recent things I wrote in this regard is “esau tells his story” which was just published by Verse-Virtual.
The Plagues sounds very interesting! What a great twist for the point of view. Do you write with a specific reader in mind?
JL: That’s a yes and a no. If an idea for a poem is sparked by a phrase, a painting, or just my never quiet brain, then the audience becomes “anyone who happens to read this/all of humanity.” But it is not unusual for me to write a poem in response to another poem (as noted above,) or to a comment or request from someone. Then the poem is obviously more targeted, though I generally try to give it some universal application/appeal. There is certainly no age group, ethnic group, or any other group that I write for. Mostly anyone who will read my poems.
You’ve written some fun, great poems for me, and I loved them. What’s your view on social media for marketing
JL: Marketing is a mystery to me. My first book just came out in June of last year, and I am still working on how to best promote it. The obvious sales are to friends and acquaintances, but that runs out quickly enough. Then there are the Facebook poetry groups I belong to, and posting in those has produced a few sales. Having a publisher who has my book listed on Amazon has helped, and it is also being marketed on the publisher’s website.
What is your favorite quote?
JL: I keep a list of quotes that have moved me in some way. It’s actually in two sections: serious, and “dang funny.” My favorite serious quote at the moment is from Gary E Stevenson, who said: “None of us should be defined by the worst thing we have ever done.” That is powerful. A favorite funny quote is “The sooner you accept the dull, miserable reality of your existence, the happier you’ll be.” (Turbo – the movie)
I love those! Thanks so much for stopping by!
j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the complexity of human interactions, sometimes drawing inspiration from his experience in healthcare. When he is not otherwise occupied, he is often on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.
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