Interview with Steve Lambert, whose poem, ‘Another Poem About The Moon,’ can be found in Issue One of Into The Void.
Why do you write, and what do you hope to achieve in doing it?
I’m not sure I have a truly honest answer to these two questions. I write for a multitude of reasons, and some of the reasons for which I started writing are no longer valid. For instance, I started writing to impress girls. Now, I’m happily married and have a thirteen-year-old daughter, so I guess I write to impress them, or to show them I’m somehow worth a damn. It’s not a very good strategy–there are easier, happier ways to impress people, and writing (unless gobs of money is earned) doesn’t really impress most people all that much.
Most people who write or do art, I suppose, have some extra content in their hearts or heads that can not be disposed of in the course of a typical day’s doings. One can’t, after all, go around saying stuff like, “I’m so wise I had my mouth sewn shut,” or “I, myself, am hell.” Where there is an urge towards these kinds of utterances there must be an outlet.
What are the major themes found in your work, and why?
Much of my work explores the connections between identity and geography. I’ve also found myself exploring how to express “appropriate awe” without the hindrance of religious affiliation.
Why is literature important?
Literature is culture, and it deepens, widens, enriches our life experiences. Literature should be a specialized language for that which is hard to express or relate. That said, literature (poetry, in particular) resists explanation. A poem is not a set of instructions, but a poem can help you negotiate the gray areas of your life. A poem doesn’t explain; you should come away from one just as mystified as you were before you read it. But, hopefully, you’ll be a little more okay with it. I like to quote Robert Frost, who once said, “If you could summarize a poem, you wouldn’t need the poem.”
Who are some of your favorite writers?
This list is long and ever-growing, but here are a few poets (I’ll save fiction writers for another time), in alphabetical order, so as not to offend:
Betty Adcock, Erin Belieu, Alan Dugan, Philip Dacey, Douglas Dunn, Louise Gluck, Donald Hall, Thomas Hardy, Richard Hugo, TR Hummer, David Ignatow, Rodney Jones, James Kimbrell, Yusef Komunyakaa, Philip Larkin, Dorianne Laux, John Logan, Robert Lowell, William Matthews, Sharon Olds, Al Purdy, Rilke, Stan Rice, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, James Schuyler, Anne Sexton, Louis Simpson, William Stafford, Mark Strand, Gerald Stern, Dylan Thomas, CD Wright, James Wright.
What book are you currently reading?
I tend to read several books at a time. Currently, I’m reading ‘The Adventures of Augie March’ by Saul Bellow, which is wonderful on the sentence level. I’m also reading a biography of the the nineteenth-century English poet John Clare, while also reading his selected poems. I’m also reading through some literary journals, including the latest issues of Rattle and 32 Poems–and now Issue 1 of Into The Void.
What’s your favorite piece in Issue 1?
I haven’t made it all the way through it yet, but I’m fond of “Pub” by Joseph H. Odermatt. I love a good drinking poem.
Where else can we find your work?
Most recently I’ve had work in Red Truck Review, Spry Literary Journal, Eunoia Review, The Gambler, Deep South Magazine, and Picaroon Poetry. But I also have things online at The Cortland Review, MadHat Lit, SOFTBLOW, and other places.
What is on the horizon for you with your writing?
I’ll hopefully be finishing up my MFA in December of this year. Also I’ve been shopping around a poetry book. I had it accepted once, but the deal fell through, so I’m back at it, double-time.
You can find Steve on Twitter @Stevekgb2003.