Interview with a poet
Joseph McCullough talks to Liana Metal
about his work.
You are writing poetry.
Why did you choose this genre?
When did you start writing poems for the first time?
As I was going through my teenage years and living at a boarding
school for fatherless boys and as a part of family with limited resources living within an urban housing project, the availability
of funds sort of eliminated any form of art expression other than a pencil and paper; perhaps that explains why poetry is
“the poor man’s art”. Subsequently, when it came to holidays,
the most I could offer was my poems, the first being one for my remaining parent (since deceased) for Mother’s Day.
Do you have any formal training in this field?
I have had college level courses in the studies of English
but only specific areas of poetry, the Romantics and Modernists, to some degree as all college students encounter, due to
availability and scheduling of classes; I took what I learned and learned from life.
How do you usually get ideas for your books?
This is a difficult question to answer because it involves
the function of the human mind as it evolves/matures during life and I suppose there is no one answer because the ideas themselves
are a process of life and it is an individual choice which everyone makes to interact with them. Sometimes I just let my mind go free into space and wait to see what comes back; other times, the ideas
come directly from other people, places, and readings that I interpret into poems.
Tell us more about your work.
How many books have you written?
I have written four other books (actually more; four have been
published, one is in the process, and others are in various stages of developments).
When was your first book published? Where?
As a young artist portraying myself (Joyce) as a urban artist,
I sought to rid myself of any funds that were accumulated through being at the boarding school (monies accrued through social
security benefits) to claim my life again and invested in having a company develop the books.
However, their themes were not necessarily of those times but which have become very important issues. They were: A Book of Poems, Thirty-Six Animal Poems, and High
Ques. I know you only asked for the first one, but these three represent that
period of my life. The first two were done relatively simultaneously so I consider
both of them my first books.
Tell us about your latest book.
What/who inspired you to write it?
If you are referring to The Rite of Passage, which you so kindly
reviewed, it was begun when I began to attempt to prove that a person of the last and this century (1900/2000) can attest
to humanity and reach the heights of mind of our literary predecessors; realizing that more so than having to compete with
other poets was the overwhelming concept of dealing with electronic methods of communication which are much easier and simpler
to encounter for the human mind – it’s all so immediately visible and there is no need for actual conceptualization
of ideas through symbols.
What is the format of your books? Where are they displayed?
I am not sure what a ‘format’ is since I only use
the accepted structures of books as a foundation for constructing my own books; let it suffice to say that I integrate the
functions of literary genres into my books of poetry. Presently, only the Rite
of Passage is available through Booksurge.com and Amazon.com. I believe my next
book, An Energy of Vision (Publish America) may be available through bookstores and
other venues of sales.
Have you encountered any difficulties in finding the right
Finding the right publisher has always been a problem since
I do not limit myself to ideas and themes for a particular audience/visualence of readers; a typical example is my witting
attempt to construe new words (i.e. –visualence; the Microsoft program often shows that it cannot use Spellcheck –
a word itself that gets the ‘red wavy line’ - ) but I have begun to master that skill and use the words sparingly
within the concepts of established ideas. Immediately, a poem comes to mind –
An Ode to Conformity – but then I say to myself, I am borrowing on the past and it will leave me in debt to the future
– so I dig deep into my mind and try to figure out what I am really thinking about the ideas which might become the
Have your poems been published elsewhere?
Other than in books and a few magazines related to sixgallerypress,
no; not that I am a recluse, but the nature of modern society and the possibility of having the poems stolen from sight because
the size of the population makes it almost impossible to track any materials that may be borrowed upon or used by other persons;
I spent the years developing a style and concept of ideas that only a person living them could (re-)create them.
Tell us about your own background in writing, teaching and
your other interests.
My background is my experiences, like any other human in the
being of life. I teach to support myself and I am devoted to my students who
are considered to have learning disabilities in reference to the standard of norms which suppose to be the supporting system
of life on this planet, although modern developments of it seem to be doing more harm to it than progressing with the nature
of its life forms. I am interested in everything but I also believe that all
ideas should not be put into action (war, racism, etc …..).
Now, would you like to share with our readers a sample part
of your latest work?
Do you mean TROP, An Energy of Vision, or the poems which I
am scrutinizing presently? Actually, I went and changed the titles of all my
poems in my present manuscript to advance its level of interest; An Energy of Vision is written in haiku, an ancient language
of ….. seriously, though …..; and my present work has a new technique of structure that represents a re-combination
of ideas above the ordinary sense of common realities. You can interject some
verse of TROP (The Rite of Passage) if you would like to bridge this gap of my interactions; I have some haikus stored in
memory or, if you don’t mind pausing for a moment, I can look about the world and maybe write one now.
The motion of earth
balanced against human life;
the rest of species.