Interview at Four Ties Lit Review

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Matt Larrimore, editor of Four Ties Lit Review, interviews me:

http://fourtieslitreview.com/home/interviews/interview-with-robert-okaji/

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21 thoughts on “Interview at Four Ties Lit Review

  1. Great interview, Bob! Very interesting and insightful probe into the alleged mind of a REAL poet, not just a poetaster like me. 😛

    Ron

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  2. I enjoyed this very much (also took a side trip to read/listen to Rain Forest Bridge–not sure how I missed that–very beautiful, loved it). I especially liked the questions you suggest the poet ask when revising a poem–duly noted, in fact I wrote them down. I’m obviously too easy on myself 🙂

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  3. Hi there Robert, it was a great interview. Your knowledge of the written word-poetry is quite amazing to me, when I write “poetry”, I don´t even think about verbs,nouns, e.t.c, if they push the poem forward or not. I just sit down, have an idea a sentence or a word I have written down in my little booklet and just start typing away without much editing to tell you the truth. I eventually have enrolled in free online classes that takes a course in poetry, starting at the end of this year, which is quite strange by the way. But is should be interesting. Since 1983? You´ve been writing poetry….no wonder you´re so good at it. And I had to smile when I read you served in the navy, at least I do have something in common with a good poet I thought to myself, we both have been in the military. That´s about it, since your knowledge of poetry is quite fascinating to me. The whole world of poetry I´m finding it fascinating. And great advice you gave specially for a very novice writer who has no clue really about sonnets or different styles of writing, or with a great vocabulary….you said be patient and when talking about publishing I thought that too was a great advice. So thank´s for sharing some of your knowledge. I´ve saved that page plus you introduced me to a new blog which is very interesting one so thank´s for that also.

    Have a great day.

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  4. Thanks, Charly. What we do with the words AFTER those initial impulses will often transform the poem from being merely okay to being good. For example, in a poem I’m currently working on, my first draft included the phrase “put back together,” which certainly said what I intended. But it sounded a bit clunky, and I revised it to “reassembled.” A month later I read it and thought that it could still be improved, that it didn’t carry the reader far enough. So I changed the word to “refleshed,” which carries much more weight. The rest of the poem may not be any good, but this line works for me! That is part of my goofy process, and plenty of poets likely would have started with a better word than what I finally, and very slowly, uncovered. Every day I learn something more about my limitations!

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  5. Congratulations! What an interesting interview! Very, very eloquent. And thanks for the words of advice – you may still be a student (as we all are), but you may be a more advanced student with something to share with others like me. Thanks!

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  6. Thanks for sharing this great interview — I especially enjoyed the fact that you took the poetry workshop as a means to improve your prose but as a result “fiction fell away”. This happened to me when I had blank-page anxiety and took a break from writing prose; I found so much worth in the economy of words. Eventually short stories lured me in, mainly because I can’t keep fiction from creeping into my poetry, or vice versa. I think I’ll always write poetry, though, when I need to. I worry that I’m a liar at heart, and it keeps me honest!

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  7. Never knew you “started” as a fiction writer, Robert. I read this interview several days ago, but will definitely have to return to your advice again and again. I would be keen to see some of that prose; I’ll bet it’s rather literary. For myself, I moved opposite, from poetry to fiction . . . well, mostly (of course I’ve wobbled and wavered over the years). Good stuff!

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  8. Great interview. I loved what you said about revisiting pieces of yours and making sure they are ready – that is actually one of my favorite parts about writing, especially poetry. Tinkering, tinkering tinkering until the word(s) capture the feeling I’m trying to convey in the best way possible. Thanks for sharing!

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